Being an RA during COVID-19


Ciara Brown is an RA at Gibbs Hall. Photo by Brown

Going into Spring Break with a building full of residents, I would never have imagined returning to a ghost town. The coronavirus was without a doubt an unexpected gift that I am sure everyone would want to give back.

After days of many emails pertaining to the university’s emergency steps in dealing with the pandemic, FAMU officially announced its transformation to remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester.

Emails later, it was officially announced by the Office of Housing that students who reside on campus are strongly suggested to move out.

While many students freely moved out to go home, the Resident Assistants of FAMU do not necessarily get that same opportunity. I have been asked by my family, some friends, and a few curious minds about whether or not I would be returning home as expeditiously as my peers — or if I would have to stay until every resident left. I have found that many people aren’t happy with the answer that I give.

“Personally, I am not extremely upset about not being able to leave, but I can see how other RA’s are affected. I think the title of being an RA sometimes is used as an advantage or an excuse to suppress the reality that we are students as well,” said Shamara Zephir, a first-year RA at Polkinghorne Village.

Many RAs on campus –- like myself — have participated in just about every internet trend you could think of in order to kill time.

“Inside of Sampson Hall, it has been very empty with a small number of residents being present. Although students are given access to check out and leave as soon as possible, there are not many that have done that,” said Kaleb Levarity, a first year RA.

While this is my second year serving as an RA, I am more than familiar with the duties of an RA when it comes to our presence in the residential facilities. We are always the first ones to arrive and the very last ones to leave.
After learning how aggressive the pandemic had gotten, I was definitely curious as to what this meant for RAs and our attendance.

Jiared Crowd, a second-year RA in Sampson Hall, said the experience has not altered his feelings toward the student leader position. “I think I would still be an RA, I just think when it comes to things regarding our health, I think it should be taken more seriously,” Crowd said.

Zephir said: “The job itself is very meaningful. I wouldn’t let the slim chances of a pandemic like this happening again deter myself or anyone else away from the position.”

Without question, this experience has been surprising and more than a little uncomfortable as I experience it as an RA. But I have definitely been able to learn new things, including TikTok videos.