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It's all in the family: Resident Advisor older brother keeps watchful eye on little sister

Picture this: It's your first year of college, a time to get away from the parental authority you've been living under for the past 18 years and experience life on your own. You move into your dorm and meet your roommate, your Resident Advisor and the rest of the Residence Life Staff.

That first night, when your RA explains to you that they're not your parents, you're thrilled. They tell you how they're really there to be more like a friend, a confidante, almost like an older sibling. Only when they tell you that they don't mean it literally ... at least not usually.

Now I'd like to tell you a little about my Senior Resident. He's a great guy -- funny, smart, a member of the Academical Village People. The kind of guy any mother would be proud of. Believe me, I know! That's because I'm in a unique situation -- my Senior Resident is not just there as a stand-in for my family, he is my family. He's my big brother. Same last name, same address, same embarrassing childhood stories and trips to grandma's.

And before you ask, no we didn't get in the same dorm on purpose. No, I believe I learned in Psychology that this is what they call the "misdirected hostility" of the housing department.

Imagine spending Fall Break with your Senior Resident.

Imagine having your big brother patrolling your dorm at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night.

Imagine going to visit your friends in the suite below you and realizing that they're all playing Nintendo with your big brother.

Remember how you felt so confident in your first year when you realized your parents would not find out about what you do here? (Except, of course, in the most extreme cases.) Well, my parents called me last week to talk to me about taking my trash out more often. They heard it was piling up. But it was when they called and asked me to turn down my music that I knew things were getting out of hand.

Now before you start pulling out your tissues for me, there are plenty of up sides to this arrangement. For one, how many of you have pictures of your Senior Resident on his first day of junior high? Think about that next time you get written up! And who else can freely call up their Senior Resident's mother if he annoys you? I spent 18 years perfecting the art of being a little sister; don't think I'm not going to use it to my full advantage now that I'm at college.

Alright, so he can give any boy the third degree if they come to visit me, but imagine how many embarrassing stories I can tell to his dates. This definitely is a two way street.

Speaking of streets, did I mention he has a car here? How many other first years have a free ride to McDonald's whenever they want?

Did I also mention that my brother is a fourth year? That means he has fourth-year guys as friends. You first-year girls know where I'm going with this.

Of course, there's more to it than that. It certainly helps in getting to know people. Ninety percent of my building could pick me out the second day as the "senior RA's little sister."

While they didn't know my name, it's actually pretty cool to have people know who you are, even before you know them. So all in all, it's not a horrible arrangement.

So you'd figure that would be it right? I mean, it's a big enough deal that my brother is my Senior Resident, what else could the housing department possibly do to me? In fact at that point I figured they owed me, maybe at least a room with a nice view. Little did I realize that view would be of a construction site. Fortunately, we have construction workers who feel that 8 a.m. on a Saturday is a good time to use a jackhammer! (Those of you haven't picked up on my sarcasm who have clearly not been woken up on a Saturday morning to a sound that is reminiscent of about 100 mortar shells going off outside your window). Of course, I don't blame the hard working people in housing for putting me in this situation. They do their best to arrange housing for first years and generally they are quite successful. But I'm beginning to think they may have partaken of the fourth-year fifth just a little early when they placed me.

Sure, I thought it was odd that my roommate and I have the same name, but hey, it must happen all the time. Nikki can't be all that uncommon a name.

So what if I've only run into two other Nikki's on Grounds so far. It was obviously something they couldn't avoid. And my roommate and I have managed quite well. Sure when people call there's always the same basic beginning:

"Hi, can I speak to Nikki?"

"Sure, which one?"


(Now here's where I have to explain something. My roommate's last name is Auer -- pronounced "hour." Normally, this would mean nothing, but my last name, starts with an R. Say that to yourself a couple of times. "R" "Auer" now add a southern accent. You can't imagine how many times we've each realized half way through a conversation that the call was for the other one.) But I guess everyone has a few bumps in their first-year housing situation, right? So maybe my brother lives a floor below me, my roommate has the same name and I live next to the world's loudest construction site. I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time. What's more, why should I mind if most people know me as the "senior RA's little sister?"

Sure, it appears the name has stuck, but hey, at least now my roommate and I can tell which one of us you're talking to.