The following is the resident assistant position description. You can also download the updated RA position description (PDF) if you prefer.

Position summary

The Resident Assistant at Cornell lives in the residence hall and serves as a leader, helper, and resource person for students. The position serves as a critical link between the students within the RA's assigned floor or area, the Assistant Director, and the Residence Life Office. The position requires being a representative of the College and a representative of student issues in the hall and across campus.

Term of employment

August - May

Principal duties and responsibilities

Serves as a resource to residents

  • Knows and interacts with all students within the assigned floor or area
  • Communicates and promotes the mission and policies of the Residence Life Office, Division of Student Affairs, and Cornell College
  • Knows, abides by and enforces all rules, regulations, and policies of the residence halls and of Cornell (including The Compass, the Residence Life Handbook and the Residence Hall Agreement)

Develops community

  • Creates an environment where the needs and concerns of diverse populations of students are appreciated
  • Promotes an environment that is conducive to academic and social development
  • Supports hall activities and events
  • Promotes and supports Cornell College events and activities

Provides initial support to residents

  • Assists student with academic, personal and social concerns, making timely referrals as necessary
  • Mediates roommate conflicts
  • Responds to crisis situations
  • Works with Facility Services and/or Campus Safety staff to resolve maintenance issues and safety concerns

Required skills, knowledge and abilities

The ideal RA will be able to take initiative and think critically and creatively to solve problems and to make decisions. This person will be able to communicate with and relate to a diverse group of students to understand their individual needs and to help those students establish strong social networks as well as connect with the appropriate academic, social and health-related resources on campus. The ideal RA must be able to work successfully on a team as needed, must be self-motivated to work independently as needed and must be flexible in living and working in constantly changing and unpredictable environment.

Because of the nature of the RA role, we recognize that not all candidates will possess all of these skills at the time of application. As such, we look for candidates who demonstrate a commitment to learning and openness to receiving training and feedback from their supervisor and/or peers.

Time commitments

Refer to our list of important dates for specific obligations.

  • Participates in all trainings, staff meetings, committee assignments, openings and closings during the year
  • Helps with major on-campus events (examples include New Student Orientation and Commencement)
  • Serves in a regular duty rotation (including Homecoming, Thanksgiving, and Spring Breaks and block breaks)
  • Has limited opportunity for additional employment on or off campus
  • Is not away from campus for more than one block without prior approval from Residence Life

Because of the nature of the position, the RA is expected to be a presence in their community, especially early in the semester, a time critical for the development of a strong residential community. Individuals who have significant time commitments that prevent them from participating fully in fall training, from being a strong presence in their communities early in the semester or from assisting during opening and/or closing are expected to discuss those time commitments prior to accepting the position. Such time commitments include but are not limited to student teaching, off-campus study opportunities and athletics.


  • Achieved sophomore status or the equivalent of two semesters of academic work by the time the position begins in August
  • Achieved a cumulative 2.5 GPA (both during the application process and throughout employment)
  • Be in good conduct standing with the College and be able to pass a criminal background check


Each RA receives a room credit award of $2,400 toward a single room billed at a double room rate. This room credit is applied in conjunction with other financial assistance that individual may be receiving (each RA candidate is encouraged to meet with a member of the Financial Assistance staff to determine the impact, if any, on the student’s financial aid). In the event that an RA is away from campus for more than seven days in one block, or if the RA fails to fulfill the stated job responsibilities, Financial Assistance will be notified and the RA will be expected to repay a portion of the room credit. This includes time spent away for academic reasons.


Once the academic year has begun, a resident assistant who chooses not to continue in the position or who is removed from the RA position for any reason will be required to move to a new room, floor, and possibly the hall in which the student was employed as an RA. Should this happen, Residence Life will notify Financial Assistance and the student's aid will be adjusted accordingly.