Stephanie Navarro (SFS ’06) has kids, lots of them. Raucous and rowdy, many of them drink, need help with their classes, vomit, have their stuff stolen, break things and rarely clean their rooms.

Navarro’s kids are freshmen – all 100 of them. She’s their Resident Assistant on the second floor of New South. Though she’s only a year older than them, Navarro insists that one year makes all the difference.

“There’s such a big gap between what you are when you come in as a sophomore and what you are when you come in as a freshman that there’s enough of a difference between us,” Navarro said. “But at the same time, I just went through freshman year; it’s fresh in my head. I know exactly what it was like, so I can answer all of their questions knowing what they’re going through.”

Navarro is among the first group of sophomore RAs on campus. Of the 69 total RAs serving this year, 10-15 are sophomores. With applications for next year’s RAs due after Thanksgiving break, sophomores will again have the opportunity to fill some of the positions.

Sophomores became a part of the permitted applicant pool after the Apartment Assistant program ended after the spring 2002 semester. According to Todd Harris, associate director of residence life, AAs were mostly sophomores. The university also decided to allow applications from sophomores due to an increase in the number of available RA positions.

“We knew that we would need a larger staff this year with the addition of the Southwest Quadrangle,” Harris said. “Therefore, it made sense to offer the position to sophomores.”

Being a sophomore RA could get trickier in residence halls such as Kennedy, Reynolds or McCarthy, however, where younger RAs could have to regulate members of their own class, and juniors and seniors.

“I think that it would be much harder to enforce upperclassmen,” Navarro, who is an RA only to freshmen, said. “All freshman RAs deal with GERMings; freshmen try new things out, make new friends and have more roommate problems, but they’re more likely to talk to the RA. There are huge differences between being a freshman and an upperclassman RA.”

Despite this, Kennedy RA Shermica Farquhar (MSB ’06) has had no problems.

“I have a great floor,” she said. “It may be hard for others but I have had no discipline issues. The thing is, you have to be mature to be picked to be an RA, so class year doesn’t really matter,” she said.

Farquhar has had to write up classmates, as well as juniors and seniors.

“I did have an encounter with a person I had class with, but you have to do your job. As a sophomore I know a lot of people in this dorm, but you have to keep your job separate,” she said. “If people are being stupid you have to write them up, and if they’re your friends they’ll respect you anyway.” So far, class year hasn’t seemed to make any negative difference in the effectiveness of the RA.

“We will continue to offer the position to sophomores at least through next year,” Harris said. “There is no talk about changing that decision in the foreseeable future. To my knowledge, there have not been any problems with sophomore RAs regulating upper-class students.”

Kennedy Hall Director Brenda Nimoh Rogers sees no difference between sophomore RAs and upperclassmen RAs.

“I don’t think it is more or less difficult to be a sophomore RA,” she said. “We look for the same qualities in all RAs regardless of their year: maturity, leadership, community builder, a sense of integrity and a well-rounded individual who is open to diversity.”

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