As a Resident Assistant these past two years, I have seen a lot. From resident conflicts and struggles, to wonderful friendships formed. There is a lot to this role, but the most impactful part, on both sides of the job, is the fostering of a community. As RAs we strive to bring our residents, and in a way the campus, closer together. Organizations like the Residence Hall Association do this on the macro scale, but in the halls and on the floors it is the RA that shapes the community. These communities in turn shape and influence those around them. I haven’t remained unchanged in my time here, and I am happy to say so.
So why bother being a part of a community? Well, whether you want to be or not, you are a member of a community. Your coworkers are a community, as are the people you get drinks with on Friday nights. A community helps to define you and the communities you are a part of say much about you. Humans are social creatures and these communities give us the chance to exercise our social nature. Being able to help burgeoning communities grow is a rewarding endeavor in itself. The ties of a community can bind, can instill a sense of pride, and give a person a place to belong. These are some of the reasons Bison Nation migrated, en mass, to Texas five years in a row.
As I sat here at NDSU this past weekend, I considered the community I’ve lived in this year. As the final stretch of my RA career winds down, I am enjoying watching my freshman work out what happens next, utilizing each other for support and studying diligently for those all too important finals. It is because of these residents that the residence halls exist, because of the student population that NDSU is here. Without the communities we make-up, there is no need for all of these things. Billions of dollars have gone into making NDSU what it is, and many other places like it too. So when everyone went home for Easter weekend, and only a handful of the student staff remained, it gave me pause.
All of these buildings, this campus as a whole, my hall on its own, they were a ghost town. It all exists for the community it supports and that supports it but when no one is here it has an empty feeling. I found my social nature longing for those that had left, for the life and energy I can regularly experience here. I wondered if my residents thought about the friends they met here while they were back home. How deep had those roots burrowed? I know that I will always know my residents, I will recognize them for years to come and I will always be happy to sit down and talk with them.
I guess my conclusion was that I never want my communities to be empty. The emotions that I have exist for my communities, much like the NDSU campus exists for its students, faculty, and staff. I don’t want to be a ghost town but to make sure to continue making those connections, to have that deep seeded pride, and to know I belong. NDSU is my home, and I have seen it in many different aspects. It has been a pleasure to be one of the RAs for the Health Professions First Year Experience community here at NDSU. In four weeks these floors will be empty, but the bonds that the community has left me with will never leave and because of that, the community is never empty. Community is the foundation on which we build, on which our tickets are found.
Martin “Mixy” McNichols
Until we meet again