Resident assistant gives OU dorms dependability


Staff Intern

Those who live in the dorms at Oakland University might be seen peeking from their doors from time to time to see if a resident assistant is on duty.

Relando Thompkins is the resident assistant for a community service floor and it seems as though his door is always open in anticipation of providing some service.

Thompkins’ job as an OU resident assistant focuses mainly on providing assistance and aid to the residents on his floor. He is the go-to guy if you had a question or issue to discuss.

“I know all my residents by name and important things about their life,” said Thompkins. “I like that they feel comfortable enough to let me in.”

As a junior working on his degree in the social work program, he said he is genuinely interested in people and the diverse stories they have to tell.

He is an avid listener and says he is a proactive RA, striving to bring a sense of community and support to his floor.

Thompkins often gets residents to come together and simply hang out.  They also combinine efforts on community service projects.

Thompkins believes his passion for social work stems from the idea of an imbalance in society. Through his RA position, he is able to use those beliefs and apply them to his current job.

“There are a lot of imbalances that exist in society,” he said, “and I want to be a part of tipping the scales more so towards things being equal. I want to be part of that solution.”

Thompkins has one ground rule for all the residents: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

At times he has had to step in and mediate situations, which later results in residents usually feeling a sense of disappointment that they let him down, he said. An apology inevitably follows.

“We consider ourselves a family and even families have disagreements from time to time,” said Thompkins.

Thompkins has been an RA since winter semester 2007 and has no intention of leaving his position anytime soon.

In order to be a resident assistant, one must go through group activity experiments and an individual interview.

Selection committees interview aspiring RAs while group activities are performed in order to observe an applicant’s leadership and communication skills. So timidness is not on the checklist.

The application process starts in the winter semester and is open to any student interested.

Resident assistants are compensated with room and board expenses covered by the university and also a stipend for their work. Besides these perks, Thompkins gets much more from his experiences as an RA.

“I’m big on interaction. The things I like aren’t necessarily tangible. It’s just that feeling of community with my residents. Everybody trusts me, I trust them,” said Thompkins.

“Even though some of the people on my floor may not be coming back next year, knowing that they’ve established that bond where they plan on keeping in touch with each other, who knows where that could lead for them and for me?”