Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

ResLife alters RA policies

<ir="ltr">At the beginning of fall term, Residential Life changed its policies and procedures related to alcohol and drug consumption, according to Andrea Robinson, Director of Residential Life. Robinson explained that these changes are intended to increase consistency in regards to how RAs respond to illegal drug and alcohol consumption and to ensure that RAs act as resources rather than as police for the student body.

Robinson said she hopes the changes shift RAs focus away from policing campus on weekend nights and onto responding to concrete problems and complaints arise. RAs on duty this year will still visit their areas, but will no longer knock on doors or enter events unless they have received a noise complaint, it is past quiet hours or there is a student emergency.

Robinson explained that in past years, the RAs on duty had knocked on every door where noise could clearly be heard. They introduced themselves, reminded the group of quiet hours and asked the resident to call them with any concerns. However, Robinson said she felt that this was an assumption of wrongdoing and implied that every student gathering was a concern.

Elaina Thomas ’18, who is in her second year as an RA, said that it was often difficult to determine what constituted a party. “It was hard to tell when music was too loud or if it was just a couple of friends talking in their room,” Thomas said. She also said that her responsibility as an RA last year was to assume every gathering involved alcohol. RAs no longer make this assumption. “People hang out without drinking all the time. We have to assume they have the best intentions,” Thomas said.  

However, Robinson said that RAs will also be more consistent and strict when they do encounter underage drinking; if they visit an event in response to a noise complaint and witness illegal drinking, RAs have the responsibility to address the situation. In the past, RAs often observed underage drinking while informing residents of quiet hours and took no direct action. Now, when they do enter a room where students under 21 are consuming alcohol, the RAs will ask all underage students to pour out their drinks and will record the names of those involved, according to Robinson.

In addition during fire safety checks, if an RA notices alcohol in an underage resident’s room, the RA will request that the resident pour it out, Robinson said. Previously, Robinson explained that RAs were often unsure what was expected of them in this situation and sometimes took no action, allowing underage students to illegally possess alcohol.

Robinson clarified that the changes to RA policies and procedures are not meant to prevent RAs from witnessing illegal activity, nor are they an attempt to crack down on drinking culture at Carleton. Instead, they were made to prevent RAs from acting as police on the behavior of their residents and to ensure they are always addressing an evident problem and never turning a blind eye on illegal behavior, according to Robinson.

The procedures increase consistency by reducing the scope of an RA’s duties on policing behavior, but increasing their responsibility in the face of clear law breaking, she said. Thomas believes the policy changes are a good step forward. According to Thomas, the previous policies “put RAs in an awkward position.”

Though she will miss interacting with lots of people while on duty, Thomas said she is happy to no longer worry about being held liable if she sees underage drinking during an early round of room checks and things later spin out of control. The new procedures “keep everybody consistent.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *