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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Residential Life fires seven RAs for drinking policy violation

<turday August 25th, seven Residential Assistants who had arrived on campus early for training were caught drinking, violating college policy that no alcohol is permitted in Carleton residences until the first day of classes. A few days later, all the RAs were let go. All were people of color.

According to an RA not involved with the drinking incident who wished to remain anonymous, the group of RAs, some of drinking age and some not, were having a “chill hangout,” and a couple of people posted videos of drinking on their Snapchats. Residential Life was then informed of the videos by an unknown source, who the anonymous RA said was likely an RA themselves.

“One day of RA training I noticed a lot of people being pulled to the side by Res Life staff,” said Clara McCurdy ’19, a current RA. “Two days afterwards, the Res Life [professional] staff addressed us as a group, saying there were a number of RAs that got fired in the last couple days, and that it was related to a party.”

A member of the RAs who were let go agreed to talk to the Carletonian as a representative for the group as a whole.

“We all violated policy, we are aware of that, and we were aware while we were violating, and so we all agree that it was a fair decision from Res Life to fire us,” said the former RA, who wished to remain anonymous. “We already are on good terms with Res Life and the Dean of Students Office and we have our lives already set to move on.”

Andrea Robinson, the Director of Residential Life & Housing, declined to comment.

“From a policy standpoint, I get it. From a personal standpoint, it’s more complicated,” McCurdy said. “I’m frustrated that it happened – I think we’re all sad to lose people that were on our staffs that were our friends … There are people who haven’t gotten caught doing things like this, but I think it’s just that Res Life has never been presented with such a large group of people at once, which is why it’s so jarring.”

The current RA who wished to remain anonymous said that they thought the person who turned in the former RAs did not handle the situation well.

“I think that RA should have known what the effects of turning in those RAs was and the effect it would have on the Res Life office as a whole,” the anonymous RA said. “The RA that turned [the group] in didn’t go talk to those people personally … I think that would have been a better way.”

The anonymous RA also said that, though they think the RAs were not fired because they were people of color, there was a “concern around the diversity of Res Life.”

“Res Life is a pretty diverse office in terms of the RAs … which is really important so that students on campus can feel like they have an RA that they relate to,” the anonymous RA said. “There were some people that were concerned that they were losing this many RAs of color because it would make Res Life less diverse and that having less RAs of color is less resources for incoming students of color … Res Life did say that they do see that concern and want to make an effort to be as diverse as possible and continue to hire more people of color in the future and advertise the position so they continue to get a high number of people of color who apply to be RAs.”

McCurdy said that, though she does not know the details of the firing, comparing it to a “Permit Patty” incident in which people of color are unjustly policed for merely existing is “a valid framework to keep in mind when considering” the situation.

“We need more people of color in leadership positions at this school … it’s a loss for students who would have been looking up to those people,” McCurdy said.

According to McCurdy, every RA staff group on campus lost at least one member due to the firing, and the hardest-hit area was Goodhue/Evans, which lost three.

“The biggest impact for me is just that we were supposed to have 14 people to be able to split [duty nights] with and now we don’t,” said McCurdy, who works in the Musser/Townhouse area.

According to the anonymous current RA, the first priority for Res Life was to fill RA positions on floors with first years, especially Goodhue and Watson floors that had no RAs. Res Life filled the positions they needed by contacting people who had applied for the RA job last year but had been waitlisted, and sending those who accepted the job through a condensed RA training program. Vacancies on upperclassmen floors have not yet been filled, said the anonymous RA, because there was no immediate need to do so.

“[Res Life] is just having other RAs in the area pick up the slack,” said the anonymous RA, who also said they didn’t know of plans to fill these positions.

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