To recognize Resident Assistants (RAs) for their hard work and dedication to Residential Life, Fordham has introduced a new honor society: Rho Alpha Upsilon. Assistant Director of Residential Life for Leadership, Development and Training, Justin Muzzi is in charge of the inductions alongside Resident Director for Loschert Hall, Julie Liss. Fordham’s chapter is part of the larger Rho Alpha Sigma (RAS) organization. There are now 33 chapters including the freshly minted Alpha Upsilon. This opportunity is available to sophomores, juniors and seniors at the end of this year.
Muzzi said that the move would give RAs additional recognition for the hard work they do. “As a department, we do a lot internally to recognize them, but I don’t think there’s a lot on the university like a campus wide approach to recognition of them,” Muzzi said. “It can be a thankless job because you put in so many hours and it’s a lot of behind the scenes work. I see this as an opportunity for us to say in front of everybody that these individuals had this really great leadership opportunity throughout their time here at Fordham and they did so well that we were able to recognize them by making them part of this honor society.”
The decision to create the society came from Liss, who belonged to the society and thought this could be something that Fordham would benefit from.
“Looking at the organization and what it stands for and some of the other schools that have it, we decided that it would be a good fit for Fordham and it would be an opportunity for us to promote the RA position as a leadership opportunity but also give them the recognition at graduation,” Muzzi said.
Only 10 percent of the RA population will be a part of the society, a process intiated by peer or self-nomination. In the spring 2016, 10 people will be inducted to the organization. There can also be up to five honorary members each year, consisting of professional staff members at Fordham that made valuable contributions to residential life but that did not meet some of the minimum qualifications. Inducted members will receive yellow and blue tassels at commencement in order to distinguish them as members of Alpha Upsilon.
In order to be inducted into the chapter, students must have a year of previous experience as an RA. Candidates must also have and maintain a 3.2 GPA or higher, which is in line with a lot of the Fordham honor societies. As part of the application process, students must write a letter of interest in the organization. If an RD or RA nominates them, they would do the same and list the candidate’s qualifications.
Muzzi and Liss searching for the strongest candidates for the organization.
“We look for people who really embody what it means to be an RA so they are strong programmers,” said Muzzi. “They are good with conflict, help address issues in their community and step up for the department. It is the person who goes above and beyond what we’re asking for of the normal RA and meets those academic qualifications.”
According to Muzzi, the chapter is expected to complete some level of community service on or off campus, as is already required for resident assistant programming. Once the members are inducted, they are also to be responsible for helping choose the new members of the society and continue to be strong programmers in Residential Life. The team behind the society is hoping that members will be recognized in the commencement books this year.
“We want them to continue meeting [high expectations,] so this is kind of another way to make sure that they’re doing that,” said Muzzi.
Now that the team has all the materials and is looking to induct the first class, Muzzi is working closely with Kimberly Russell, the director of Residential Life and assistant dean of students, to try and figure out who to work with to get Alpha Upsilon recognized on campus.
“Our hope is that if we induct 10 RAs and five of them are seniors and are graduating this year that those five people will be able to wear their cords,” he said.
The team looks into the buildings the candidate has been assigned to, their merits, the kind of programs they have done and how they have gone above and beyond.
“We hope that we can make it truly blind and that we are picking the best and the brightest and the most excellent RAs because of how they are being nominated and what is being said about them,” said Muzzi.