As An RA, How Do I Set Boundaries?

During my first day as an RA, I had a floor meeting with my residents. I introduced myself, did an ice breaker, shared some resources, and shared policy expectations. I can vividly recall telling my residents, “I am here to support you, so never feel bad if you need to reach out for questions or guidance.” Fast forward to 5:15am the next morning.


Honestly, this resident could’ve been an RA with that heavy-handed knock.

“Kassidy! Please open up.” I woke up, frantically thinking that there was an emergency and ran to my door. “Can you tell me where the library is? I want to go explore!” Internally, I thought, Are you kidding me? Customer service Kassidy, however, said, “No problem! It’s right over here on campus!” I was so glad that my resident asked me for help, but…did that question really need to be answered at 5:15 in the morning? Maybe not so much. I followed up later that day and spoke to that resident about my personal boundaries. Specifically, I was available 24/7 for emergencies, but if there is something that was not as urgent, I would ask that she send me a text or maybe wait til a more appropriate hour to wake me up. 

Oprah Meme - Everyone gets a boundary

As an RA, you truly are in such a unique position. You are expected to support your peers and foster your community while you study and work on your personal growth. You are experiencing higher education life (college) alongside those that you mentor and guide. Knowing this, it is important to set the boundaries that you need for yourself to be successful. So, let’s talk about who you should set boundaries with to maintain your personal wellbeing:

  1. Your Residents
    • Do you want to share your social media with them knowing that they can screenshot any post you make?
    • Do you want to share your contact information?
    • How will you share that you are available? If it isn’t an emergency, can they knock whenever?
    • What boundaries do you need to set so that you are prioritizing YOU?
  2. Your Supervisor
    • What do you want your supervisor to know about you?
    • Do you want your supervisor to be able to see your social media?
    • Can your supervisor contact you with nonemergency information at any time?
  3. Your Peers
    • Do you want to keep your relationships with your fellow RAs professional?
    • How will you share your boundaries to your peers?

As you are establishing relationships, be thinking about how you will communicate your boundaries with those you work and connect with. Setting meaningful boundaries will help you be successful in the RA role as you learn how to prioritize yourself and your development.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why are boundaries important?
  • What boundaries do you want to set for yourself in your leadership role?

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