The dorm experience is one of those things about college
that can stick with people, right behind all-night cramming
sessions and the origins of a coffee problem. Here at
NMU, scattered between the nine different resident halls
are 55 Resident Advisors (RA). These individuals are hand
picked and recognized as a safety for students, when life
steps out of the classroom. But outside their basic duties,
RAs play a larger role in forming relationships between
the other students that they live with. Every hallway is classified
as a house, that house holds a specific theme. Some
are decades old, some are brand new. Murals cover cinder
block walls to reflect the individuality of each community.
Senior political science major Simon Moesch is the current
RA in Concert House of Van Antwerp (VA). The at mosphere
of his house is something that Moesch can only
describe as active.
“The current Concert House is very outgoing, loud, intermingled,
a big family,” Moesch said. “We put the fun in
Part of that fun is sophomore graphic design and social
media major Branden Zann. While the house is active,
Zann explains that the core of the community is really
about support among their small living space.
“The people in this house are our biggest supporters. We
work very well together at team-related activities,” Zann
said. “Whatever chance we have to make a banner and
root each other on, we’re all about that.”
When it comes down to the definition of what an RA is,
Moesch explains that no two RAs will ever have the same
answer. While the job is to ensure every student can be
safe, sleep or study, spending day-to-day within a house is
much more than that.
“I am directly and indirectly invested in every single one
of my resident’s lives,” Moesch said. “I want to see them
succeed academically but also socially, physically and mentally.
You see some of their hardest moments but also their
Each of the houses carry a history and with that comes
certain traditions. But as time goes on things come and go.
Not every house will have the same interests as the last.
Instead of those traditions being the glue among house
members, Zann views it more as the simple quality time
that builds the relationship.
“These traditions are what help give us a break so we
aren’t studying all the time,” Zann said.
Zann explains that many house residents can often be
found on small adventures and activities just day-to-day, be
it hammocking, hiking or bonfires. He has faith that many
more students will be able to experience the uniqueness of
living in a house community.
“I hope that anyone who lives in VA will have the same
experiences I’ve had,” Zann said.
As the university continues to grow, there are houses and
entire buildings that have been transferred out of a familiar
space. This was the situation when West Hall closed
down at the end of the fall 2017 semester. This can cause
a house’s slow growth when everything is starting from
phase one. Junior secondary music education major Will
Ragnone was a West Hall resident his freshman year and
is now the RA for Misty Mountain in Maple West. During
his time as a resident, Ragnone spent time with his RA
Matt Scheikart and has tried to carry over some of those
qualities as he now tries to build a house community from
“He just didn’t care who you were or what you were
doing. He was just super welcoming to me and everyone
there,” Ragnone said. “He didn’t care about the awkwardness
of the position. He just genuinely wanted to be there
and meet people.”
Being in the position now, Ragnone sees his job as
making sure that the comfort and well being of his Misty
Mountain residents is a top priority.
“I think it all boils down to making sure that everybody
in my house feels safe. They feel like it’s a home and they
have people they can go to,” Ragnone said.
Getting a taste of West Hall culture, that was steeped
in traditions to something nearly brand new has given
Ragnone a unique perspective on the forming of a house
“Going from West Hall, I just got smacked with everything
at once, it was all there,” Ragnone said.“We moved
into The Woods and that wasn’t established at all or anything.
It was important to me to try and start the atmosphere
Ragnone explains that the change in building was not
only a new environment, but a new space where it became
all too easy to shut yourself off in your own space.
Opposed to West Hall where it was purposefully designed
to make residents to get out and interact, The Woods has
slight changes, like hallway corners and locked security
doors that make it a different environment.
Since it’s only the first month into the year, the building
of the Misty Mountain community is still at a slow pace.
But Ragnone has already begin to notice steps to progress
and residents opening up.
“There is a small group of people that are really interested
in the whole being involved thing and there is another
group that just wants to hangout,” Ragnone said. “They’re
all just trying to figure out how to be in this community
and do school.”