Knowing how to handle confrontation is an important part of the RA experience.  Whether you’re confronting an issue on your own behalf, working on the behalf of another resident, or approaching a violation of campus or community standards, all confrontation can be handled by keeping a few basic principles in mind.

Confrontation is…

  • An intervention

  • Allowing ourselves to grow, change, and learn who we are and what we value.

  • Feedback about an individual’s behavior (not their personality traits)

  • Not necessarily negative!

 Confrontation is important because…

  • It helps build community 

  • It allows students to share their needs and assert their rights

  • It makes each person take responsibility and not putting it all on the RA.
  • It provides you with important skills for working with a variety of people and situations

Use Confrontation…

  • When the needs and rights of an individual are being violated.

  • When a student is involved in a policy violation

  • When you feel that someone is involved in a type of behavior that, if changed, would benefit them, yourself  as well as the community as a whole.


  • Always be prepared

  • Have a pen/ paper or phone ready

  • Know the basic facts regarding the behavior you are confronting

  • Remember

  • Check your posture

  • Watch your tone

  • Remain calm

  • Have an immediate goal

  • Collect all information to deal with the situation on hand

  • Alleviate the situation and stop it from escalating any further

Confrontation Guidelines

  • Remove any distractions and ask for their attention

  • Identify yourself by stating your name and position

  • Clearly explain why you are confronting the situation

  • Advise them of any policies that have been violated

  • Be honest and direct.  Do not over explain.

  • Be polite but assertive

  • Keep conversation focused on the situation at hand

  • Let them know you’ll be documenting the situation

  • Ask for identification

  • Ask students who don’t live in the room to leave

  • See if students have any questions before concluding the confrontation

  • Remember you are confronting the issue not the person.

  • Don’t apologize for doing your job

Other things to consider…

  • Avoid becoming angry and worked up.  Maintain professionalism and composure at all times.

  • Focus on the person’s positive points as well as the negative behaviors

  • Stick to the issues.  Don’t let the person bring in outside circumstances or rationalizations.  Sometimes, it helps to provide personal examples, but be careful that the conversation doesn’t switch to focus on you.

  • Avoid, “I told you so….” Comments that make the person feel inferior.

  • Realize and convey that the confrontation need only be an initial contact and that helpful referral service, time, and understanding can and will follow for appropriate situations.

  • You can always ask another RA to confront a situation with you.

  • Different situations call for different confrontation tactics.  Use your best judgment given the circumstances.

After Confrontation

  • Always be willing to discuss the confrontation with your ADRL for support, resources, and guidance.

  • Submit the incident report, remembering to only use facts.

  • When possible and appropriate be sure to follow-up, especially if those involved are your residents.

What If:

  • The resident will not open their room door after knocking ?

    • Knock and announce yourself again and that you are aware residents are in the room. If they do not open the door, you have to get a professional staff member or campus safety involved.
  • Resident runs away or attack?

    • If they run away let them. Other residents present can provide information.
    • If you feel a resident is going to attack, please remove yourself from the situation immediately and contact campus safety or the professional staff member on call.

DO’s and Don'ts:

  • Do-Know the policies, as an RA you have an obligations and responsibility to know institutional and residence hall policies

  • Do-Be consistent when confronting situations on your floor or building

  • Do- Seek help when needed. If a student is getting out of hand, get another RA, supervisor, On-call staff member, or Campus Safety to help.

  • Do-Know who to contact. Utilize the DSA on-call schedule when needed.

  • Don’t-take rude behavior or negative attitudes personally

  • Don’t- Disrespect or threaten a resident

  • Don’t behave inappropriately