Letter to the editor: Problems with Residence Life

By Kim Feeny
April 14, 2005

I was at work over the weekend and someone asked me to cover a shift for them this Saturday. I said that I was sorry, but I can’t because I’m on duty for a big campus event. “Oh you’re an RA, Resident A**hole,” he said. I didn’t think much about the pun until this week. Everyone knows all about the R.A.’s; they know who they are, which ones to look out for and which ones they can trust. Being a resident on this campus, you may be used to an R.A. confrontation. Some of them are your friends, some of them aren’t. You see them as a big group of different people who work together and get along. R.A.’s, your peers and fellow Cabrini College students, take on the role of adversaries to your social life. But that’s okay, because it’s their job. They are a well-oiled machine of write ups, safety rules and regulation, working together to ensure the safety of our school. Right? Wrong. That’s what you are meant to believe. R.A.’s are college students who go to class, have jobs and have friends. Yes, friends. Friends that they like to, on occasion, socialize with. But what happens when in the midst of the socializing, one R.A. finds another in a situation that is not so “R.A. like.” Well, let me tell you a tale of a thirsty Thursday that is starting quite the commotion among the Residence Life.

I had a friend from work come up for a visit. We went over to House 2 to visit some other Cabrini students who we work with. These residents are 21 and House 2 is a wet house, therefore it being Thursday, my friends were drinking. After about 10 minutes of socializing, the door opens to the room I was in and two of my fellow staff members are standing there. See, the interesting thing is that these two R.A.’s opened the door themselves. Not allowed. R.A.’s are not permitted to force entry into a resident’s room, but that’s a whole different issue. I stepped out of the room and spoke to them explaining that I was sorry, I had only been there for about 10 minutes to say hello and I realized that it was getting too loud in there. Like a parent reprimanding a child, one of them responded, “Well you should know better.” Know better? I was not drinking, I was not in a room where underage residents were drinking, and I was merely attempting to do something us R.A.’s don’t frequently have the chance to do–socialize with friends.

Following that night, I, on occasion interacted with the two fellow staff members who I had encountered that Thursday. These interactions did not consist of conversations regarding that night. It was not discussed, therefore I had assumed we had put it behind us and realized that each of us are human and we make mistakes. Wrong again. A week following the incident, I was approached by my Area Coordinator about the incident. Wow, they reported back to the bosses about it and didn’t have the guts to tell me. There’s nothing like being stabbed in the back. Following that meeting, I had another meeting with the director of Residence Life a few days later. The meeting lasted seven minutes, ending with my termination as an R.A. for the remainder of the semester and for the following academic year.

I honestly thought this was a joke. I was being fired for “giving residence life a bad image.” Other R.A.’s don’t show up for duty, condone drinking in their residence halls, drink with their residents and even participate in underage drinking themselves. They’re not fired. So why me? Why was the decision made to by pass the probation stage and just tell me to pack my stuff up and move out. Who knows, maybe the Office of Residence Life is trying to make things stricter around here. Maybe they want to reward their student leaders by stripping them of every ounce of freedom we crave at the college level. More importantly, why did my fellow staff members, two people who I am supposed to trust, confide in, respect and work together with, rat me out? The R.A. lunch table in the cafeteria explains it all–the clique. They look out for each other, and hurt everyone else over in the mean time. They are the epitome of hypocrisy. Holding the policies of the school in high standards and constantly enforcing them. They appear as the perfect R.A., the ones who don’t let anything go. What non-R.A.’s don’t know is that we have all seen most of them breaking the rules: drinking underage, not showing up for duty or not sleeping in their room, yes, R.A.’s are not allowed to sleep outside their rooms unless requested off. R.A.’s, such as myself, are not allowed to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time by them, they have even seen each other break the rules and just let it slide. For instance, one night after my little encounter that Thursday night, a staff member did not show up for duty. This R.A. deliberately put the residents of the area at risk and jeopardized their safety so that they could go to a hockey game. Wow, some reputation and image this R.A. gave residence life. The best part about it is that the same staff member, who did their job by ratting me out that Thursday night, didn’t do their job three days later because they willingly chose to cover for the R.A. that decided not to show up for duty. Interesting huh? Amazing how our trust system and communication works between the R.A.’s.

After all of my ranting and raving, I want everyone to know that is article is not just about me. I’m just another pissed-off student of this school who has been hurt. But I will not go down quietly and will not be burned while others get away with things. I hope that my current situation has opened many eyes. So here’s a question to the residents of this campus. If R.A.’s can’t trust each other, do you feel that you can trust them? And to my former staff members, beware for you have no freedom here anymore and you do not even have the security and comfort of trust among each other. Remember, you are an R.A.

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Kim Feeny

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