RAs to carry out all weekend rounds in pairs

24

A new Residential Education and Housing Services (REHS) policy now requires resident advisors (RAs) to perform all three evening weekend rounds of residence halls in pairs, according to a Feb. 20 email from Associate Director for Residential Education Juls White to RAs. White hopes the change will make RAs more comfortable performing this job, which involves walking through and checking the halls for which they are responsible.

The Feb. 20 email explained that the policy change was prompted by multiple alcohol-related transports that have occurred this semester without an RA filing an accompanying incident report. Another major concern is that RAs often encounter situations on their rounds in which they need to call another RA or a Graduate Hall Coordinator (GHC) for assistance, White said in an email to The Occidental Weekly.

REHS currently requires RAs to perform three rounds every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the buildings for which they are on duty. On their rounds, they check for unreasonable noise or damage to property and write incident reports if they find students breaking school policy, according to the RA handbook. Before the rule change, only the 12–2 a.m. round was required to be conducted by two RAs. The other rounds, from 8–10 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., were generally done by the one RA on duty in that hall.

In certain recent incidents involving transports, students called Campus Safety and/or 911 instead of contacting REHS, according to RA Emily Linebarger (junior). She added that these situations distance RAs from the issues in their halls, making it more difficult for them to support the students they are charged with protecting. They often find out about incidents after paramedics call Campus Safety, who contacts the GHC, who then contacts the RA, White said.

“The specific reason for adding the extra walks done in pairs is to ensure that staff feel comfortable and safe when needing to respond to a situation without having to wait on assistance to arrive,” White said via email to The Weekly.

Former RA Sita Wong (senior) said that she occasionally felt uneasy performing rounds due to the possibility of having to write incident reports on students who broke REHS policy.

“First off, you don’t want the students to think you are the ‘bad guy,’ but part of our job is to document policy violations,” Wong said via email. “In addition, if you are a new RA, it can be even more difficult because you are new to the job and you don’t want people to judge you or view you in a different light.”

One RA, who chose to remain anonymous, believes that several recent incidents also contributed to the policy change.

“We had two alcohol poisonings in [Stewart-Cleland Hall] two or three weekends ago, and I think that’s what prompted the pairing up,” the anonymous RA said.

However, White said that there had been no recent increase in transports, although REHS considers any transports unsatisfactory.

Wong, though, was unsure whether the new policy will have any effect on the number of transports. Since RAs were already expected to perform rounds each night, increasing the number of people walking the halls may have little consequence. Furthermore, since RAs do not always perform their rounds when they have homework or go to bed early, student behavior in the halls may not be influenced by the policy change, Wong said.

“I don’t necessarily think that having the RAs do rounds in pairs will decrease unsafe alcohol use,” Wong said via email. “I think that having two RAs rather than one is more for the RAs.”