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Vitaly OConnor
1101-1102 UWRT
Olivia Rines

The RA community at UNCC (A Micro-Ethnography)

The RA community is an interesting community, being my first semester here at UNCC, I
knew little of this community. Through a series of research forms such as: interviews; (with
Nichole, Troy and Colby) field notes, observations etc. Ill be explaining the following
community. The main focus and purpose of this paper is to introduce an outsider to the things
they need to know about the RA community at UNCC, and explain how this community fits the
criteria of a discourse community according to Swales six characteristics.
An RA is a residential advisor; it is a position offered at UNCC. This community is made
up of students that are experienced in caring out the duties required to keep a living facility safe
on campus. Ive encountered moments of cruel gestures from students toward RAs, regardless of
words or childish acts it left an uneasy feeling in my chest. I noticed that the approach of an RA
in an unfortunate situation is like balancing on a tight rope and constantly getting the nauseous
feeling of slipping off. Its a constant battle against the self, putting aside feelings toward others
and being just and fair, for the better safety of others Its not easy they all said. Safety may be
the main key focus and the second would be the unification of the student body. This brings me
to Swales first characteristic in fitting the criteria of a discourse community. A discourse
community has a broadly agreed set of common public goals. (Swales). This community
most definitely fits this characteristic, making safety and unity of the student

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body two of the main public goals the RA community has. To achieve such unity
and safety, precautions are taken. Regardless of friend to friend status, in bad situations the right
thing must be done. Colby stated its not like I can just sweep it under the rug, as if it were never
there. If I cover someone elses mistakes, that mistake becomes mine, and at point once Ive
made the choice, I will have to pay for that mistake I covered myself, and if the situations is
crucial enough, it could jeopardies my job. So lets say an RA catches someone smoking or
drinking within the living facility, the first thing they are obligated to do is call the police. I
witnessed a scenario where an RA called the cops (was not present for the phone call), I managed
to catch the actions and reactions of the situation. The student was in fear, the cop just looked
more disappointed then anything, and the RA couldntt even face the student, so he overlooked
the situation from feet away. I noticed the student saw the RA and with words unspoken, the look
that came next on his face was of anger, hate and despite. So in a situation such as this, would the
RA be wrong? After all just reasoning is key, to avoiding someone elses mistakes. An RA may
lose their job if the actions are not taken accordingly. So does a student have the right to anger
and frustration? In moments like that the student view himself or herself as the odd one out
Causing a naturally accruing anger toward someone else, such as the RA that may have gotten
the individual in trouble. Troy said You get use to it, they eventually accept the reality of the
matter, and give you respect back, sometimes more than expected, we have guide lines for a
reason, without these guidelines we fall apart. In conclusion to Swales first characteristic, the
RA community fits the criteria of a discourse community because this community has a set of
public goals, fitting Swales first characteristic.
Swales second concept is A discourse community has mechanisms of
intercommunication among its members. This characteristic fits in Swales chart

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because in this community, communication is done through language,
emails, meetings etc.. For example the RAs have meetings, in these
meetings every important issue is covered. In other words, to fulfill the public
goals forms of communication such as meetings, are used. This form of
inner communication is beneficial both to the students and the ones in
charge. Nicole was main source on safety, well to be honest just about
everything. But the way she presents safety through communications is well
done. She said Our main focus is your safety, so we are provided with a set
of rules that help us keep you safe. This communitys one form of survival
is communications. To satisfy the residents while keeping them safe
communication is constantly used.
The following characteristic: A discourse community uses its participatory
mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback. Is the third presented by
Swales. In the community Ive chosen, the following characteristic applies
because recreational methods of persuasion to unify the student body are
used in witty manners. Such methods provide feedback from and to. Another
form would be surveys promoted by the community. Or the information
provided by the office to the students. There are at-random notified safety
inspections, such inspections cause the student body to give feedback to the
community they live in. I recently had an inspection. Prior to the inspection
Ive noticed a broken chair in my room. At the time of the inspection my
feedback to the community fixed the problem. This characteristic is broken
down into so many sub-minor characteristics that go into creating this

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characteristic. Trey argued how the events chosen by the community give
unrequested feedback. Unrequested feedback is a method used in which the
party accumulates information from its audience by providing events in
which the audience takes part and provides unrequested information, the
results are used as feedback. That feedback is used to better accommodate
the residence in that live within the community. But to accomplish a unified
form of communication, so that the public goals may be meet, an RA goes
though training. The School provides a system that prepares the applicant
for the duties they are to accomplish. This training is done by other
experienced students. Imagine running around the track with your team and
having to
In the following characteristic, which is Swales forth point A discourse
community utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of
its aims, The RA community fits this criteria due to the genres required to create this
community. Genres are vehicles, which mediates and promotes writing. The forms of genres that
fit this community are, email, Facebook, texting, group-me, and roommate agreements.
Roommate agreements are genres exclusive to any living community. This genre is almost like a
contract, which sets forth an understanding between two or more roommates in which they will
live by. This genre directly assists the RA goal, by directly forming the guidelines of comfortable
living agreements with their residents. RAs were students that chose to be given responsibilities
into keeping the facility safe, by applying for the benefits the community brings, a great example
would be free housing etc.. For instance during summer time the positions of RAs lower down,
being that the University only offers 3 buildings for on campus living. In reality this community

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is made of numerous genres, it all depends on how deep one is willing to search and better
understand this community. Genre of communication, this includes verbal communication,
email, cell phones(texting) and room forms. The most persuasive form of communication is
verbal communication because it effectively evokes feeling and facial expressions that get the
message across.
In addition to owning genres, last discourse community has acquired a specific lexis.
This would be the fifth characteristic presented by Swales. The community
Im presenting does not fit this characteristic. For example Colby came up
with poker night, the way the community presented itself was trough a new
lexis that Colby chose to present in his own unique way, with goals of unity in
the student body. Each similar community creates a lexis of their own, and
that lexis is the way each community presents itself in different ways from
others. However this is not a set lexis for this community, it does not stand
them apart. There is no form of lexis that the community uses. They simply
use a universal form of lexis, the form of lexis can just about fit any
community. Being that they dont have a set form of lexis used in this
community, the RA community does not fit this characteristic of Swales.
The six and final concept that Swales presents is A discourse community
has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discourse
expertise. Without this characteristic there would be no RA community. This
characteristic fits in the following way. The RA community is made up of
members, these members are students at UNCC that have gone through
training, and contain the required skills to serve in the RA community. Each

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community has a group of RAs that are equally qualified for the tasks
required. For example, several RAs told me they became friends with the
people after having so many activities together. Some told me they are
simply there for the job but they comply with any setting required of the job.
Ive noticed that the bond that makes this characteristic true is the bond of
similar skills within the community. These skills bring them together as a
team and help them overcome problems that at times may be a bit difficult.
The threshold level of member in this community is made up of RAs
(residential advisors), and RCs (residential coordinators).
The RA community is a thrilling experience from what Ive encountered. And from what
Ive noticed a very spontaneous one as well. Never knowing what may happen, or how things
may turn. But organized and always focused on safety and accommodations required. This
community is bound to survive and flourish, due to the intelligent decisions made. In doing so,
they have built a foundation of respect and trust within the community.