By Katy Barenholtz
In light of certain events and concern about Resident Assistants ignoring their contracts or not taking them as seriously as they should, the housing office has decided to clarify the residential housing contract and highlight key points that seemed to get brushed under the rug, namely regarding drug and alcohol policies.
Kristan Hausman, Director of Residential Education and Housing/Assistant Dean of Students, explained that in previous years it was not clear about what the repercussions were when the contracts were violated.
Hausman explained the job action chart and that it outlines three levels of violations. Low level violations are the mildest. For example, if residential assistants ignore a violation of the residents’ contract such as having candles in the rooms, they get a mild punishment.
A mid level violation is concerned with failing to identify oneself to a campus safety officer in a conduct matter. For example, knowingly allowing students to unofficially swap rooms.
Finally, a high level violation is one that violates local, state or federal law. These are typically alcohol or drug related. For instance, if an RA is caught underage drinking or under the influence of a substance, or if they are doing these things while on duty. High level violations are grounds to result in firing the RA.
Hausman said that in previous years, this was a grey area. Now, they are making it clear that it is a no tolerance policy and these RAs will be fired immediately. Some initially thought this meant changes were being made to the RA contracts, but Hausman emphasized these policies have always been in place, but they just needed to be emphasized and clarified.
“This gives the student staff opportunity to opt out”, Hausman says. The student staff are allowed to back out of their contracts if they are not willing to abide by these policies, but this has not happened. These policy enforcements have been very well received by the staff. Hausman believes that “RAs are expected to be role models on campus. We should have been doing this all along.”
Cameron Young ’17, HR of Crawford Hall, supports this and also views RAs and Head Residents as role models.
“The Office of Residential Life and Housing here at Denison is changing what it means to be an RA or HR,” Young said.
“The RA contract that we all signed sets a precedent for the type of behavior that is expected of us as representatives and leaders of the residence halls. Our responsibilities are not finished when we leave the building. We are always representing our communities, which is why signing the contract is so important.”
Photo Courtesy of Anna Spanger