While students up and down the country return home from a drunken adventure, some remain awake to resolve the issues caused by alcohol.
Residential assistants, or RAs as they are also known, are based in university halls of residences across the country to help and support students in need. Their role is often overlooked but it can be argued they have one of the most difficult jobs going.
From fixing boilers through to dealing with the consumption of illegal substances, the RAs deal with an awful lot.
They often make or break a night. In the real world, if you forget your keys inside your flat, you’re locked out for good, not just for ten minutes.
These guys are often the unsung heroes of our time at university.
Macauley Moseley is a RA at the University of Derby. Along with the hall manager and four other RAs, he looks after ‘Cathedral Court,’ a fairly new block of flats built just a two-minute walk away from the picturesque Cathedral.
Dressed in his official RA hooded jumper, Macauley attentively answered the door just half way through a weekend shift. With his hall manager only working from Monday through to Friday, it leaves one RA to cover the weekend shift. Friday 5:30pm to the following Monday at 8:30am.
Not only can this format come with several complications, mainly from drunken students, but it can ruin plans and social lives.
He said: “Weekends are an awful lot busier, mostly for me since I get bad luck and always have to cover the weekend shift. They feel like they go a lot longer and it definitely feels like a marathon.
“As long as I’m not working on a weekend, I feel like I can release my inner student and enjoy a night out. It’s really good to socialise although when you see all your friends out while your on call it can feel a bit demoralising.”
In Cathedral Court, the five RAs are given their own flat to separate them from the other students. It’s crucial that they are able to all work together and by putting them together this environment, this can be achieved.
When entering the flat, it has a different feel to most others. Not only is it a place of living and experiences, but it feels like a place of work. All the occupants have got their doors swung and kept open for communication, which of course is crucial for the success for any team. There are no students who feel the need to lock themselves away, they are like a family.
“It’s important that we all live together. There’s a really good atmosphere in here. Everybody gets on with one another and you can see that.”
Residential assistants are dotted around Derby just like all of the university’s halls of residence. Just a short walk past the Joseph Wright Derby College and over the A601, lies Princess Alice Court. A much older building, one which could be considered a typical halls of residence in Derby. Unlike the before mentioned Cathedral Court, Princess Alice Court is far bigger. It houses nearly double the amount of students which can be challenging for the hall manager and the team of residential assistants.
You may think that there would be nearly double the amount of RA’s for Princess Alice – but in fact there are less. Just three students are based at this halls, meaning they have to split the shifts much more evenly than at Cathedral.
Elliott Moore, is one of the three RAs at Princess Alice. He plays a huge role in the up keeping of the property. Just like Moseley before him, Elliott was enduring the marathon of a weekend shift and was only halfway through it. Elliott perhaps had a much calmer look to him than Macauley when he answered the door. Also dressed in his bright blue hoodie, he made his way down to the office to see what was required of him.
WATCH: AN INTERVIEW WITH PRINCESS ALICE COURT RA, ELLIOTT MOORE.
“Mostly, I’m sat in the office doing admin and other tasks, it’s a lot like sitting behind a reception desk. After you’ve finished your duties, you are able to go back to your room but you have to be on call.”
Being on call means that Elliott and the other RAs must take a telephone device with them to their room. Should any student with the need for help text or ring the telephone, they must abandon their sleep to help their fellow students. They are not allowed to leave the site of which they are working but can also receive calls from other halls in Derby.
“When you’re on call, you can get some really strange incidents getting reported to you. It often involves a lot of maintenance and an awful lot of dealing with people’s issues.
“I’ve had to deal with a full scale flood before. I got absolutely drenched, I got covered head-to-toe with washing up liquid. I had to get behind the washing machines and the cupboards to deal with it.
“If you’re on shift on a weekend then you are the only point of contact. If anybody has got any problems then you have to deal with them. There’s no caretaker or halls manager there to support you.”
Just like most other students, Elliott does not struggle with his social life. Despite being on shift twice or sometimes more a week, he is able to make time for his friends and enjoy being a student. He explained:
“Sometimes you have to miss out when you really want to go but the money that you can earn helps pay to go out when you are off shift. As long as you plan it well you can find time to go out.
“I enjoy the job and I would do it again but the timing is not great for me. Since I will be entering my third year in September, I feel like it could get in the way of my dissertation and other work.”
Matthew Killcullen is friends with Elliott and believes that his RA work doesn’t get in the way of their friendship. Killcullen said:
“Although Elliott does work an awful lot of hours, we still get to see a lot of each other when he’s not on shift. It means that he can always afford to go and do things with our friendship group since he’s got the money from working for the university.
“I think it’s given him a lot of responsibility as a person and it has really begun to show in these last couple of months after Christmas. He’s become much more independent and has found a really good way of balancing his work with his friends.”
Although it can be seen as one of the most dedicated jobs that a university has to offer, it is one of the most important. Parents often worry about their children going away to university but it is the people like Macualey and Elliott who ensure they are safe and well looked after. They don’t always get the credit they deserve from other students, but without them they could easily find themselves locked out of their rooms, for good.