Under the Radar: RA Policy Changes Part 1
Written by Bwog Staff
On December 19, two days before potentially returning Resident Advisors had to submit their applications for the 2008-2009 school year, rising junior and senior RAs received an email from Dean Kromm, Director of Residential Programs, detailing changes to their duties. Specifically, when on-duty, they must be closer to campus at all times and cannot be in the subway.
The rationale provided by administrators, according to several current RAs, is that after the Radio Perfecto shooting, RAs should be available immediately to talk to their residents and can never be more than a ten minute walk from their residential area or building and cannot be on the subway at all. Kris Alspach, CC ’09 and Wien RA, wondered what they, as RAs, could do in a situation like that of the Radio Perfecto shooting. “They’re turning us into police officers. They’re making our responsibility for our jobs greater than our responsibility as students,” he said.
RAs are primarily in charge of directing students to the proper authorities in emergency situations rather than taking an active part in resolving violent incidents. They are not trained to “strap on a gun” and go out in the middle of the night, Alspach said.
The timing of the announcement (it was sent after all first time applications were due, during the middle of finals and after many potentially returning RAs had submitted their preferences sheet) aroused concern among several current RAs, including Alspach, who felt that the decision was being pushed under the door. He thought that his suspicions were confirmed when, during recharge week before spring semester classes started, there was a
Only 15 to 20 out of the approximately 60 junior and senior RAs were in attendance, and several RAs felt that the meeting was simply a technicality so that the administration could later say that they had listened to student concerns. “It was very clear within the first three minutes of the meeting that there were not going to be any changes,” said Chris Daniels, CC ’09 and EC RA.
Several RAs spoke up at this point, trying to find a suitable compromise in the new policy where they could be responsible for their jobs and as students and drafted a letter of complaint. Afterwards, RAs who signed on to the letter found that when their assignments were not what they had asked for when returning RAs almost always get their first choices of dorms.
One RA who was in East Campus as a junior will be in a Woodbridge walk through double, despite the fact that he had received no complaints and knew other EC RAs that were drunk multiple times on duty and got reassigned to “prime real estate.” Another was moved from EC to Broadway.
Kris Alspach was in Wien this year and had a verbal agreement with Darleny Cepin, Associate Director of Residential Programs, to go to EC with another Wien RA as a senior, but when he was told when he received another Wien assignment, he found out that Cepin said that he had “communication issues” and that she wanted to have special opportunity to help him with these issues in Wien. No one had mentioned that he had communication issues prior to his complaints about the new policy.
This year, the second year that rising sophomores could apply to be RAs, saw an astronomical increase in the number of applications, according to several RAs. In 2007-2008 there are only six or seven sophomore RAs according to Alspach and Daniels. Next year, most buildings will be far more new RAs than returners, as opposed to in the past when it was closer to 50/50, with returners mostly in freshman dorms and the LLC, which require more active work.
While at this point Alspach and Daniels are certain that the policy will not be changed for next year, they do not think that such a large influx of new, younger RAs will be able to keep control over the dorms with older students and are disappointed that the staff, which they thought of as “really supportive” this year, will be disbanded.
Stay tuned for the administration’s reaction later in the week.