Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2018

First Advisor

Dr. Cindy White

Second Advisor

Dr. Joanne Belknap

Third Advisor

Dr. Ruth Hickerson


Alcohol use on college campuses, especially in campus residence halls, has a significant impact on students. In order to help build community and provide support to college students who live on-campus, universities often employ current students as resident advisors. Resident advisors are also charged with enforcing campus and residence hall policies, and they often face challenges when attempting to have conversations about underage drinking and drinking habits with their residents. The purpose of this study was to uncover ways that resident advisors navigate conversations with their residents regarding drinking. Qualitative interviews were conducted in person with nine resident advisors employed at a large university in the southwest United States, and interviews were analyzed using thematic coding. Resident advisors reported structuring conversations about drinking around discourses of safety and, on occasion, references to personal experiences in order to connect with residents. Institutional rules and pre-determined discourses, along with personal views of the resident advisor role, also shaped how resident advisors approached these conversations. The implications of this study for higher education initiatives and resident advisor training are explored.