The CA Headache

Working as a Community Assistant  (CA), has its benefits. You meet new people, become a role model, live in a residence hall/apartment for free, and let’s not forget, bi-weekly checks. However, there is more to being a CA than just the smiling faces, programming, decorations, and hall meetings.

Although being a CA is treated more as a lifestyle than a job, there are some things that most CAs would agree that sometimes can make us second-guess the reasons for taking the job. For instance, long hour desk shifts may seem reasonable but it becomes a major pain when your friends invite you to hang out and you have to cancel your plans.

Some days, the time spent at the front desk flies by when you are focused on completing homework assignments or talking to a friend. On other days, it may seem impossible to complete any task when students are crowding around the desk, giving you a slip of paper to receive their packages. Long hour desk shifts are convenient for residents to ask questions and receive packages but it’s inconvenient to a CA who has an 8 a.m. class the next day and his or her shift ends at 1 a.m.

CAs get tired of constantly knocking on the door to ask residents to be quiet just as much as residents get tired of hearing it. Jazmine Cooper, a CA in Columbia Hall, explains that “If a resident’s door is open at a late hour and more than 3 people are in the room, it usually is loud.” After being woken up in the middle of the night to enforce quiet hours, some residents will just respond “Oh, I’m sorry” in an innocent voice.

The most frequent and familiar issue also has a fairly quick solution. Most people know this as lock-outs. “I was about to go to class, but then there was a knock on my door.  I was so upset,” said Brandi Spencer-Phoenix, a CA in Elwell Hall. The worst part of lockouts is that it can happen anytime of the day. There is a separate key called the “Master key”, which has the ability to unlock every room in the dorm building or apartment. It is located in the Graduate Hall Director or GHD’s office of each building.

A CA must leave his or her room, walk down the stairs, use their ID to get the master key and go all the way up the stairs to unlock the resident’s door. Steven Paliswiat, a CA in Columbia, reminisces, “[I don’t like that we] can’t keep master cards with us. [One day] I was woken by a resident and had to go all the way downstairs to the office to get the master key.” In addition, 3 strikes you’re out policy states that CAs must keep track of the amount of lockouts each resident has by keeping a record in the office.

I’m sure if a resident is reading this, you are probably thinking that a CA enjoys hunting residents for alcohol and other drug-related incidents for fun, but that’s not true. If a CA confronts residents of an incident, we have to report it in a detailed process that takes more than 15 minutes of one’s time. This is not a complaint but a reality check; allowing people to see how much work we, as CAs, have to do.

Being a CA is enjoyable, but also frustrating. CAs are similar to regular students. The only difference is their responsibilities and roles as a CA. We are not always happy and joyful, even when we claim to be. Some CAs may not feel the same way as I do, but these are some of the things that can make us “tick” and frustrates us so much to a point where I feel like I’m going to explode. This job definitely gets a “thumbs up!” for giving CA a major headache!

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