Auburn University students were not the only ones living in Willow Hall last year.
“There was a doll that just randomly appeared one day, and our RA group named her Beatrice,” said Isabelle Luckie, junior in mechanical engineering and resident assistant for the building. “She looked like an American Girl doll, but she had a big piece of her face missing. She kept randomly appearing all over the hall, but then one day, she just vanished.”
“We thought that was the end of it,” Luckie said.
The RAs soon found out that the encounter with Beatrice was far from over when notes began popping up around Willow Hall. Notes that were made in classic ransom-note style with individual clippings of letters from a newspaper.
“They all said, ‘Please return our doll to us. We don’t want her haunting anyone else,’ and it was super creepy,” Luckie said.
Beatrice wound up reappearing in the elevator while Luckie and the other Willow dorm RA were making rounds. She said that the short ride in the elevator with Beatrice was just long enough for both of them to freak out.
A few minutes after they exited the elevator to continue their rounds, they heard a girl scream when she found the doll. That student proceeded to throw Beatrice out of the window of the building.
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Beatrice was never seen again. The only documentation of the doll is a screenshot from Luckie’s Snapchat from that eerie evening.
Stories like this are common among the 77 resident assistants that serve in the dorms across campus.
Life can be strange for the many freshmen who live on campus for their first year. RAs are often the go-to for freshman adjusting to living away from home and trying to adjust to a college atmosphere.
These upperclassmen students use their own experiences to help the newest students become thriving members of the Auburn community. Gina Maddaloni, junior in apparel merchandising and RA for Graves Hall, had a recent opportunity to do just that, which she said is the most rewarding aspect of her job.
“I was talking with one of my residents who was going through a similar experience that one of my friends did when they were a freshman, and I was able to get them connected,” Maddaloni said. “They ended up meeting up for coffee.”
In addition to helping her students get oriented in order to navigate campus, Maddaloni said she has helped some of her residents get connected to the president of an organization that the students are interested in joining.
“As college students, residents have to get adjusted to their newfound sense of independence, and I try to do what I can to empower them to be as independent and self-reliant as they can be,” Maddaloni said.
Maddaloni said she chose to be an RA for a variety of reasons. She said she loves serving as a resource for others, and as an RA, she was trained to know how to best help students who are going through a wide range of experiences while at Auburn. She was also heavily influenced by her own experience of being a student living on campus.
“I met my best friends just by living on campus,” Maddaloni said. “As an out-of-state student, I only knew about three people from my high school who came to Auburn, and it was really intimidating and difficult to make friends.
Living on campus gave her the opportunity to meet people in the lobby of the dorm, at hall events and through her RAs.
“Even though we don’t live right down the hall from each other anymore, we are still close, and I truly could not have imagined what my freshman year would have been like, or even my life at Auburn, if I hadn't made the friends that I did,” Maddaloni said. “As an RA, I wanted to be able to foster and watch a similar community form.”
The Auburn Housing website states that resident assistants are upperclassmen who help students adjust to college life. Each hall on campus has at least two of these student leaders who, according to the website, make it their job to be friendly, approachable and helpful to the residents in their care.
“The best memories I have of being an RA are the simple, calm nights where I just get to sit in my room, or the lobby, and chat with my residents and spend time getting to know them,” Maddaloni said. You never know what someone is going through – being present just to hear what people have to say can mean so much to someone.”
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