Every dorm has them.
They plan pick-a-dates, open houses, floor events, small groups and foster intentional community among under- and upperclassmen.
At Taylor they are known as PAs (Personnel Assistants) and DAs (Discipleship Assistants).
However, there is more to their jobs than what students initially see.
Sophomore Kayla Britt is a PA on fourth Bergwall and describes her average week as a PA as being busy.
Besides the logistical aspects of planning pick-a-dates and floor events, a PA is also required to attend a weekly meeting with the other PAs in their dorm. Britt also said that she is required to be on duty at certain times.
“You’re basically on call for anything that happens,” Britt said. “If someone got injured, if a fire happened, if there was smoking or drinking or anything that would break any LTC rules, and even just for emotional support.”
The other leadership role on a floor, the DA, is also responsible for planning a few consistent floor community events such as small groups or weekly sharing of testimonies. However, one of the primary aspects of their job is to find ways to connect their floor with God.
Senior Paige McNinch was a DA during her junior year on second Breu.
She recalls the position of DA being less structured than that of a PA. Often McNinch didn’t know her schedule for the week because a large part of her job was simply being available for when the people on her floor needed her and being aware of conflicts happening on the floor.
However, McNinch enjoyed the aspect of being a DA that allowed her to plan events for her floor.
Though this event-planning role often falls to the PAs, students in both positions are expected to communicate with each other and coordinate things like floor retreats and a floor theme.
“I really like being creative and coming up with ways for people to do new things or have fun and just do something that is kind of memorable, and connect with one another,” McNinch said. “And with more spiritual events, finding ways to connect with God — different ways of worship, or prayer or scripture reading.”
Additionally, she said being a DA came with a certain level of peer pressure.
“Everyone has their different idea of what a DA should look like, or what they should do, or what events there should be or how this event should be done,” McNinch said. “On a floor of like 50 women that I had, that’s a lot of expectations that are very different.”
Natalie Jorde is in her second year as the hall director of Bergwall Hall and is very familiar with the responsibilities of a student leadership role on a floor.
She says one of the most challenging parts of these jobs is figuring out how an individual’s personality, gifts and strengths fit into the job description of being a PA or DA.
Jorde also said a lot of what you see PAs and DAs doing is going above and beyond what Res Life expects from them. Students love these leaders because of this.
“I think the average student really underestimates how much work a PA or DA puts into events and forming the community,” Jorde said. “In a practical sense, like the time they actually put into planning those events, but also the mental space that they give their floor or wing.”
Overall, both PAs and DAs strive to create communities where every student can learn to step up as a leader.
“I think it is also important to have a community that holds each other accountable,” Britt said. “If you see your neighbor doing something that is not neighborly for you to be able to build up that courage and do it yourself.”