Saturday, October 27, 2012

Its Okay to Help Yourself

First of all, I apologize to my readers for being away for a few months. Things in life got a little heavy for my liking, and writing took a back seat. Things are finally settling, and it seemed like a good time for me to return for a bit.

The job market has been tough. I know you're thinking, "no shit Sherlock". Sorry, I had to state the obvious. After spending too many hours to properly count on applying for jobs, I have nothing to show for it. I interviewed for a few Area Director positions at ACPA. However, nothing happened.

I have been in the same hall director position for five to seven years. I have stretched myself beyond my professional limits. I have taken on new responsibilities beyond my job description to gain unique experience. Yet, nothing I have done has led to the next step in the residence life field.

As summer wound down, I started the slow decent into depression as I realized I was once again beginning a new academic year as hall director of Xavier Hall (pseudonym) instead of settling into a new, higher position. Like many of my colleagues out there in higher education land, I felt frustrated, cheated, and angry. Had I not done everything "they" suggested to further my ResLife career? Had I not sat on lots of committees, volunteered my time with other departments, and apprenticed with the Operations office for a semester? How could all these years of self sacrifice and constant professional development fail me?

Needless to say, after a solid month of intense misery and self-loathing, it was suggested that I see a therapist to deal with these feelings. I found out just how much anxiety can accumulate by living for years in a toxic fish bowl. Although I am still disillusioned with my career and wish I could live/work somewhere else, I am learning to better handle the stress of my disappointment.

For all you readers who are struggling to find purpose in your career, take solace in that you are not alone. If there are bigger issues and you still have anxiety about your job, your living space, or your future, please don't be afraid to reach out. We all are trained to take care of others, yet a lot of the time, we forget to help ourselves.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fifty Shades of Shit

Before I launch into my usual rant, I need to be very clear, I have NEVER read Fifty Shades of Grey, nor will I ever. However, I know enough to make my stomach turn whenever the book is mentioned. A colleague of mine told me the basis of the plot and it by no means encouraged me to experience the series.

In a world where 80% of women under 30 have been sexually assaulted and every 2 minutes someone is raped in our country, why on Earth is a book that promotes sexual abuse such a big hit? Of course, I have been told this series is about a woman who willingly gets involved with a man who is into S&M and grows to love the spankings and abuse. However, even after he beats the shit out of her in the “Red Room of Pain” and it appears that she leaves him, she returns only after a short period of time.

This series is more dangerous than Twilight. It sends a chilling message that women need to be dominated, abused, and manipulated. I don’t buy the bull shit excuse that women are tired of being in control of their work and personal lives, and this book allows them to slip into a fantasy world devoted to pain and sexual dominance. When did our society fall into this pathetic realm of abuse and sadism? When did women become powerless minions of abusive men? When did women become the weaker sex—for real this time?

As a survivor of a sexual assault and several abusive relationships, I weep for the young women who read this abhorrent series and believe they must surrender their rights, their personalities, and their independence to keep a man. I weep for survivors of rape and abuse, because this series glorifies sexual assault as “romantic” and evidence of love. It is obvious the author has never been raped, never been hit, and never been in fear of her life from an abusive lover. Or if she has, she is too fucked up for words.   

As a Residential Life professional, I am overwhelmed with anger, grief, and despair over how this book has been received. This past year, I counseled three rape victims—there is no way I would describe their experiences as romantic. Their rapists were not misunderstood men (like Grey) who were simply confused about how to express love. Abuse is not sexy. Abuse is not erotic. Abuse is a horrific blight on our culture, and it sickens me to my core that a WOMAN is profiting off the glorification of it.

I will be pushing for this book to be featured in our RA training—not for its literary merit, but for the appalling message it sends both men and women. Maybe we can bring a silver lining to the Fifty Shades of Grey clouds hanging over our society. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Game Over. Or is it?

While playing Donkey Kong for the Wii with a few of my Conference Hosts tonight, they asked me why the game would even count down your lives since it saves periodically throughout game play. Even if you run out of all your red balloons, you can simply start from your last completed level and resume the game.

It was at this point, that I realized how I old I am compared to these young ones. When I first started playing video games, Mario Brothers (the original) was the most popular game and the only console available was the Nintendo. There were no memory cards or save options. You had a certain number of guys with whom to play, and if you ran out, you were forced to restart the entire game from the very beginning.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Little Diddy & His Scholarship

Justin Combs, son of P. Diddy/Puff Daddy/Sean Combs, has received a UCLA football scholarship offer. Even though his dad is reportedly worth $500 million (according to the Huffington Post article available here), Justin plans on accepting the money. When the controversy first began, Justin responded via Twitter, “Regardless what circumstances are, I put that work in!!!! PERIOD."

I don’t disagree that Justin Combs is a smart man. The same article said he is graduating from Iona Prep in New Rochelle with a 3.75 GPA. I don’t disagree that Justin Combs is a great athlete since he earned a scholarship to UCLA. What I find issue with is that P. Diddy has WAY more money than most parents of first semester students and can afford to send his son to UCLA, Harvard, and Yale (all at the same time) without taking out a Parent PLUS loan.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Liberal Arts v. Trade Schools

No job offers yet. I guess there’s still time. In the meantime, I question if I made a mistake with my liberal arts degree. Would I have been better off getting a specialized or vocational degree? Would I look good in plumber overalls? Hell yea!

Liberal Arts degrees provide students with an overall education. It prepares them not just for their career, but for the world. No one likes being forced to take Intermediate Statistics or Child Psychology if they are a biology major; however, by knowing more than their core subject, they are better equipped to be a well-rounded citizen.

Trade schools or universities with no general education component prepare students for a specific career track.  Examples are art schools, air conditioner repair certificates, and vocational programs at community colleges. Rather than expend energy on classes that have nothing to do with their future, students enroll in courses with a stronger focus on their major.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RA Training: What's on your "Hell No" List?

After several meetings, our committee is only slightly closer to a concise training plan. The last time we met, we engaged in the usual ResLife brainstorming sessions where one person stands at the front of the room jotting down every inane idea we feel comfortable shouting out. As with every other meeting before, the suggestions start serious and quickly devolve into outlandish and immature.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Training Theme Announced: Hunger Games

Sorry readers for the extended absence. I wish I could say I was busy tutoring under-privileged youth in the inner city or that I volunteered to rebuild houses in the South with Habitat for Humanity. Nope. I was just hung over from indulging in too many laps around my empty hall while screaming, “I’m FREE!!” Now it is back to the grind of preparing for RA training, which commences in less than three months.

Today, I received the training theme. Since we usually follow the pop culture trends of the year, I was not surprised to see Hunger Games. Hopefully, Lionsgate will not hunt down the department and sue the pants off of it for copyright infringement. Oh who am I kidding, I really want that to happen—a lawsuit would be entertaining. However, Warner Brothers never showed up when we used Harry Potter three years ago, so my hopes are not high. Anyway, I digress.

Luckily, I am on the training committee so I can geek out with my Hunger Games knowledge which has grown exponentially since I discovered how hot Gale and Peeta are. For the summer, I will be updating you all on how we are incorporating our favorite book/movie about vicious children murdering their peers into our training schedule. I have plenty of ideas and cannot wait to share them. I may even reveal a few door decs for your viewing pleasure. Check back often, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Participation Badge Generation

As my residents move out this week, the more I hear from their parents. Today, I had to endure a one-sided conversation from a father whose daughter was leaving after having a less than stellar semester. He told me that his daughter, Laura, is so confident in her abilities that she is actually surprised she is not the top of her class or best friends with everyone on her floor. According to her father, Laura has never failed at anything.

After listening to Laura’s father rant about her terrible roommate and horrible professors, I walked away thinking about today’s generation. I realized that Laura is not accustomed to hearing “no” or failing at anything, because she is of the Participation Badge Generation. This is a group of students who, in Little League, received a trophy just for playing. They were told by their parents they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up. This generation was always protected by mothers who overly praised their mediocre children and fathers who argued with anyone who disagreed.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

RA Banquet: It’s that Time of the Year!

Okay, yes, I have been a little cranky lately and my posts have reflected that. I blame the Mayans. In honor of a positive day, here is my blog post:

Tonight, I got dressed up in my Saturday best and headed out for the end-of-the-year banquet held at the campus’ special event building—nothing but class for my department! I was pleasantly surprised to find that all fourteen of my RAs had arrived before I did, which meant they were on time. They looked very snazzy in spring dresses and freshly pressed suits.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Shackled by Debt"

My blog title comes from the first picture in the Huffington Post article, “Obama Administration, House Dems Push to Prevent Student Loan Rate Hike”. The picture embodies what many students already feel—that they are unable to envision a positive and prosperous future thanks to the overwhelming student debt they have. This article (found here), reports that Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) are working to prevent the doubling of the Federal Direct Stafford Loan rate from 3.4% to 6.8% come July 1, 2012.

Opponents to the rate freeze argue that by not raising the student loan interest rate, it would cost tax payers close to $6 billion.

Sadly, I am a card-carrying member of the “Shackled by Debt” Club—a dubious honor I wish I never had; hence why this topic makes me so angry and disillusioned. When I was a junior in high school, my mom took me to every college fair in our area. She pushed me to pick the college that had the perfect fit for my social and academic needs, rather than on the price tag. Like all parents in the late 1990s, she assured me that a quality college education would be worth it in the long run. So what did I do? I got a Masters in Education—at times like these, I wish I had been an accountant instead.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Memo: My Boss is a Chump

Today, I came to the conclusion that good bosses and a positive work environment belong in the same category as unicorns and calorie-free ice cream—things that don’t exist.

Even since I admitted that I was ready to move to another institution for a different experience, those around me have taken pleasure in polluting my work space. They revel in telling my boss the fictional rumors they create—they lie about me leaving work early, yet forget to tell him how I attended a program with a 101 fever. They also neglect to mention how they spend their entire day playing Words with Friends or posting pictures to Instagram, all while I am busting my hump to get my work done so I can go home at a decent hour.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In Honor of the 32 Victims: 32 Words of Remembrance

Five years ago, Virginia Tech showed the nation how their strong community would carry them through the tragedy of April 16—they would not allow hate to define them. Live on Hokies!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Quarter-Life Crisis

Earlier today, as I stared at myself in the mirror, I realized that I am in the middle of a genuine quarter-life crisis. Even though I have been peering into the same mirror everyday for the past few years or more, this morning was different. What am I doing still living in a residence hall…at my age? Why am I still working a job that has not made me feel completely fulfilled for some time? Did I waste my potential by taking the hall director position? Did I make a mistake choosing Education rather than Accounting?

Today, I spent hours poring over every major decision I have made in my life and critically questioned each of them. I have tried to be a person who lives without regret—everything happens for a reason is my motto. But, at times like these, I wonder if I should have taken college more seriously. I goofed off and skipped too many classes, which made my trip to graduation a longer one. What if I had taken the typical four years to get my Bachelors? Would I be the same person typing this blog post?

Monday, March 26, 2012

RA Group Process = The Hunger Games

A few of my hall director friends and I just saw Hunger Games. Despite what I originally thought it would be like, I loved it! It left me unsettled, uncomfortable, and unsure if I liked the future—it’s always so mean. It also inspired me to look at Residential Life as the Capital and the RA Selection as the Hunger Games.

What if we replaced group process with a battle to the death? The one left standing wins the position. I think this would solve a few issues with our selection process, one being a lack of motivated candidates. If you want to be an RA, you better want it bad; otherwise you will die at the stinger of a tracker jacker.

But, honestly, how different is our group process compared to the whole Hunger Games process anyway? First, we choose a select few students who may or may not turn out to be superb candidates, or tributes. With the quality of candidate I see, sometimes I really think we simply pick names from a jar. Secondly, we sit around as judgmental spectators as they flaunt their abilities, trying to get noticed and make an impression. After all, when we are evaluating 20-24 students, it is hard to remember the average candidates.

Lastly, they must beat out their competition, especially during Carousel when there can be only one winner—the candidate who earns the job. They may not stab a sword into their opponents’ hearts; however, they have to be cunning, ruthless, and likeable all while being observed by us. To all the future RA candidates: May the odds be ever in your favor.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

There Are No Sick Days in Residential Life

Pardon the brevity of my post; I’m pretty sure I have walking pneumonia or at least one of the worst colds I have had in a while. As I lay on my couch, waiting for the wonderful effects of NyQuil to take hold, I’m left wondering if hall directors can ever take a real sick day. Can I truly “call in sick” if work is mere feet away from where I am now? Can it be considered a day off for rest if no one in the building knows or honors it, and insists on knocking on my door?

Today, maintenance decided, without providing any notice, they needed to inspect the vent duct that runs through my apartment. So, at 7:30am, they pounded on my front door and demanded entrance. Even as I stood there with a red nose, bloodshot eyes, and a fistful of used tissues, they showed no sympathy for my state of health. I told them they could wait until next week; however, they argued with me until I gave up in frustration and allowed them to traipse through my den of sick. A part of me hopes they get a cold too—at least their sick day would be uninterrupted by work.

When they call in sick, do I drive to their house and push my way through their front door? I understand a free apartment in only free on paper, but there needs to be a point when human decency trumps a work order. Sadly, whenever a hall director takes a sick day, they are still expected to entertain their constituents. As my title aptly describes my week, there are no sick days in Residential Life. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Still Feeling the Effects of Virginia Tech

Yesterday, the courts determined that Virginia Tech officials did not act fast enough or provide enough information on April 16, 2007 to prevent the deaths of 33 people (the entire article can be viewed here). Next month will commemorate the fifth anniversary of the largest massacre on a college campus in our nation’s history, and this has other colleges wondering how this will affect their emergency response.

I have mixed feelings about the ruling. It is easy to ‘Monday morning quarterback’ any situation and criticize how poorly it was handled once you are removed from the immediate stress of the moment. I have confronted enough incidents, granted none as severe as Virginia Tech, to know that you do what you think is needed as it happens and then debrief what could be done differently after the crisis is resolved. No matter how much training responders have, nothing compares to the actual incident; sometimes things go wrong. Unfortunately, when things went wrong the morning of April 16, people died.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gender-Neutral Housing, Wave of the Future

A quick glance at my iPad calendar shows me that the year is still 2012, and yet we insist on debating the issue of equality for same-sex couples and members of the LGBT Community. Seriously? One of the GOP presidential candidates, Rick Santorum, compares homosexuality to deviant sex, like bestiality and pedophilia. Unfortunately, ignorant and bigoted morons like Santorum are not the only examples of the intense homophobia sweeping the nation. For the most part, Residential Life still restricts housing based on one’s sex (what mother nature gave us), rather than gender (socially constructed).

However, according to the Oklahoma Daily, the newspaper for the University of Oklahoma (for article click here), the campus is fighting for gender-neutral housing in the hope they can change the Conservative bent of their state and provide "a little step" in the right direction. For those unfamiliar with why gender-neutral housing is so important for the LGBT Community, here you go: it provides students who may possess one set of sex organs, but identify as a different gender, with a safe environment in which to live. Usually, gender-neutral residence halls permit anyone to live with each other regardless of gender—so men can live with women and vice versa. It also eliminates gender-separate bathrooms, which avoids the uncomfortable and intimidating choice as to which bathroom to use.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mr. Longbottom Must Have Been an RA

After years of subjecting myself to RA training, I know the topics and lessons by heart. We have on-duty procedures, role modeling, administrative responsibilities, fire safety, and door tags & bulletin boards. Of course, my favorite is assertiveness training, mostly because no matter how many times I experience the presentation, I tick off in my head the names of professional staff that should learn from it.

This morning, I awoke to find Lana, a fellow hall director, had defriended me on Facebook. Normally, I would have never noticed since I just do not care enough to pay attention to my friends number. However, this time I saw it, because we had just completed a heated, yet intelligent and mature conversation about a comment I made on my wall and a passive-aggressive response she made on her wall, and I wanted to make sure I edited her out of a post I was writing in case it angered her.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Die at My Desk

It’s the American Way: work and sacrifice so many hours until you eventually die at your desk, with the gold appreciation pen you got instead of a raise still in your cold, dead hand.

How many of us, on our death bed, will wish we had finished that last report or spent a few additional hours at the office? I am willing to venture a guess and say none. We will probably lament about the lost opportunities to spend more time with our partners, children, or family; but, I doubt we will be devastated we never took on the responsibility of an extra committee assignment.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dear Resident: You Wasted My Time, I’m Suing

Score one for the whiny, helpless Millennials that populate our residence halls. Lindsay Blankmeyer, formerly a student at Stonehill College in Massachusetts is suing the school, because her roommate had lots of sex while she was in the room. Okay, yes, that is gross and in really poor taste. But, worthy of a lawsuit? Hardly.

According to the ABC News article found here (, Blankmeyer’s roommate engaged in sexual intercourse with her boyfriend while Blankmeyer tried to sleep on her side of the room. In addition, the roommate had erotic webcam sessions—again, while Blankmeyer was present. Before I go any further, I need to note that Blankmeyer was a SENIOR at this point, which means at least 20 or 21 years old. Rather than confront her roommate, she did what most of my residents do (they are much younger though) and ran to the hall director. Mediation was held, Blankmeyer was offered a new room or a single, and she was even allowed to finish her degree at home instead of staying on-campus.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rush Limbaugh: Greatest Reason for Birth Control

Well, the overinflated windbag sure has stepped in it this time. Thanks to his insensitive and sexist comments, his advertisers are fleeing like freshmen from a Frat party. Just when I thought the birth control debate could not get any more insulting, Rush has exceeded my expectations of douche-baggery; he called the young lady, who wanted to testify as to why women should have affordable access to birth control, a “slut”.

My heart goes out to you, Stacy Fluke. I also want to say thank you! Thank you for standing up for the rights of all women. Having “too much sex”, as Rush cited as the reason for the high cost of birth control, is hardly why women want insurance companies to cover it. Besides providing a woman with the right to choose when or if she has a baby, there are far more uses for the Pill. For instance, my sister was prescribed the Pill starting when she was a junior in high school; NOT because she was whoring around, but because she had extremely low levels of iron in her blood—she was anemic—and the Pill helped regulate that. I also have a friend who is on the Pill, because she suffers from ovarian cysts. She may never have children thanks to this disease. Trust me, she is not whoring around either.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thank You!

Normally I am snarky as hell. However, given the rarity of Leap Year, I thought it appropriate for me to show my rare mushy side—just this once! Thank you to all my followers, my commentators, and my readers. Without you, the BadHallDirector blog would just be a neat format to hold my ramblings. Knowing that I have a loyal base keeps me motivated to write relevant posts and be as honest as I can. Residential Life is a crazy profession and without a laugh or two, none of us will survive. Thank you again, and keep reading!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

“You’re So Gay”—Sorry, That's SO 2001

The worst judicial hearing I ever had to handle was a case of homophobic cyberbullying. Shortly after the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who had a sexual encounter with a man unknowingly captured by his roommate, Dharun Ravi, via webcam, fifteen to twenty flyers were anonymously posted around my hall and on campus announcing the homosexual relationship between two of my male residents.

Josiah accused Kenneth of taking a photo of him and his roommate, Jason, kissing, which Josiah states they posed for as a dare from Kenneth’s roommate, not proof that he was gay. The flyer in question had the same photo that Josiah described along with a paragraph declaring Jason and Josiah’s love for each other as well as an invitation to start a homosexual club, which meets every Wednesday in Josiah’s room (the room number was included).

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is the Moral Road Worth Taking?

It has been a rough week for BadHallDirector—professionally. I have had a few too many probationary conversations with RAs, I have been chewed out by my boss for not reminding him about a meeting that he was running, and I have had too many arguments with custodial services about CAD charges. My conclusion this week is that being honest and moral just isn’t paying off.

Our washing machines and dryer units are at least 7 years old. For normal use say at your home, that wouldn’t be a big deal. My parents have had their dryer set for 25 years. It reminds me of when I was 4 and wore TMNT footie pajamas—anyway, I digress. Back to washing machines. For machines in a couple-hundred-person building, a few years can easily equal thousands of loads of laundry. Keeping crappy machines for too long and making students suffer, because the department is too cheap is just not right!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Class Warfare: The Last Great Battle of the Residence Halls

Many moons ago, my department suffered a devastating class warfare that pitted the professional staff against the facilities staff. The battles were overwhelming, the outcome catastrophic so much so that the effects are still felt today. Okay, so that is a little dramatic; however, when I first asked about the division between residential life and the maintenance/custodial staffs, the response I got was just as over the top. A long time ago, before any of my peers were employed here, something happened that caused the facilities department to feel resentment towards residential life. The animosity was so strong that it made the “blue collar workers” feel like the “graduate degree holders” judged them negatively given their menial job descriptions.

None of this is true. Most likely the people who started the class warfare have long since retired, leaving behind a legacy of distrust and bitterness. Unfortunately, the real victims are those who are currently employed, on both sides, because it is almost impossible to work together without underlying tones of anger seeping through to the surface. When I first met with my building’s facilities managers, I was respectful, inquisitive, and eager to learn how I could help them have an easier time handling messy and destructive students. Our relationship started off positively and I had high hopes we would avoid the disasters about which I had already been warned.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Your Time Has Come My Friend

One of my close friends is living the life all hall directors dream about on our darkest days: living off-campus, paying rent, and commuting. He is working in Student Activities at a local community college. He took the position, because he was burnt out and wanted nothing to do with Residential Life. Sadly, his new job works closely with the Director of Residential Life (hereafter known as Igor)—that dude needs to have things his way or else. Plus, the Dean of Students is a former-ResLifer and is in love with the Director, so Igor can do no wrong.

Igor is a typical live-in professional past his prime. He has three kids: 5, 7, and 12. He has been divorced since 2003. He is more than twice the age of his oldest residents. It’s time for Igor to find another job or another position in Residential Life. Yet, he refuses. Instead, he demands every department on the small campus bend to his will without an ounce of compromise. Igor continuously forces his expectations onto others, all with the help of his buddy: The Dean of Students—a perpetual resident himself.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Freedom Riders. Freedom Writers. Freedom Bloggers?

Today, I stumbled upon the PBS Channel, and they were playing a great documentary about the Freedom Riders of May 1961. Over the course of 2-3 weeks, several busses traveled from Washington DC and Nashville, through the Deep South in hopes of arriving in Louisiana for a conference. They were brave folks (White and Black, male and female, young and old) who endured beatings, verbal abuse, and death threats just to spread the message of desegregation.

As I watched in awe, I was reminded of a book I read a few years ago for an education class, titled Freedom Writers. It has since been turned into a movie with Hilary Swank playing the role of Erin Gruwell, a teacher faced with a tough inner-city classroom deemed “unteachable” by the school and principal. The class adopted their name in honor of the Freedom Riders; they used the power of their voice and the power of their words to fight against the racism and discrimination surrounding them. The book had such an impact on me as a future educator that I still strive to be an advocate for all students facing bigotry.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Slutty or Sloppy?

Nothing makes me want to slap someone in the face more than when I hear a gaggle of gals ridicule another woman for dressing too “slutty”, especially when their wardrobe is sloppy, disheveled, and unprofessional. When did it become okay to openly mock women who may dress a little too provocative for the office—or at the very least—look more fashionable than the rest, but wrong to turn the mirror on the ridiculers who dress in ill-fitted khakis, sloppy sweaters, and flip flops?

Granted, some women I have worked with struggled to understand the concept of a bra or covering up their [breast & butt] cleavage. However, I have yet to hear a woman being called out for looking sloppy, at least where I have worked. The women I see every day in my current job wear pants that drag behind them, have blouses that are more trash bag than shirt, and deem crocs acceptable footwear. And, one of them is an Area Coordinator! What their wardrobe says to me is that they've given up.

Monday, January 30, 2012

RA Group Process: McGyver or McGruber

This past Saturday and Sunday was one of those weekends that I spend the whole year dreading: RA Group Process. It is a long weekend spent evaluating eager student leaders while they build bridges made from marshmallows, dried linguine, and rice cakes—what are they, McGyver?  Honestly, judging from how a few of the applicants act, you would think they were McGruber instead. They goof off, jockey for first place in the douche-canoe contest, and completely ignore the fact that they are on a job interview.

By the time the afternoon interviews arrive, my patience is painfully thin, and I just cannot take another saccharine-sweet response to generic group process questions. However, with each new applicant, I am faced with an abundance of politically correct, rehearsed answers. Despite the large number of diverse students I have interviewed throughout the years, I have discovered and catalogued three types of bad interviewees (hey, I have to do something to keep myself awake).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would be responsible for the well-being of a few hundred teenagers. If someone had told me when I was a junior in college that later in life I would be the individual I so despised in my hall, I would have thrown my Jell-O shot at them. Not only was I not RHD or RA material, I was barely college student material. Going to class was optional and debauchery was my life. Surprisingly, I only had two judicial meetings which resulted in me writing an apologizing note dripping with snark.

Looking back at my two years on the 7th floor in Ittibittisawashi Hall, I shudder, because I know some serious karma has been dropped on my head from the ResLife Goddesses. Boy, do I deserve everything I deal with from my rowdy residents.

I was yelled at for carrying around a beer in the common lounges. My friends and I made loud documentaries about fictional folk bands at 3am in the hallways. I stumbled home drunk and purposely woke up my roommate just to tell them I was drunk. And I wrote inappropriate comments on bulletin boards on other floors just to feel superior over the poor RA who would have to fix it in the morning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sh*t RAs Say: Residential Life Has Its Own Language

Several friends and one lovely Twitter follower were kind enough to forward the Sh*t RAs Say video on YouTube. It definitely helped cure the weekend hangover brought on by Monday. I love it! It also proves that there is a shared experience felt by Residential Life staffs everywhere. It is like we have our own language.

Between endless acronyms (RA, RHD, RCF, etc.) and common taglines (community builder, icebreaker, etc.), learning Residential Life is similar to learning how to speak French or Spanish. Sure, you can learn the basics by reading my blog, listening to friends who once were RAs, or watch Son-in-Law. But unless you work it, live it, breath it, you will never understand the tiny nuances that make Sh*t RAs Say so poignantly hilarious.

I have a few friends in Admissions and Student Activities. Despite our dissimilar areas of expertise, we can hold intelligent conversations about our professions and students. However, each one of us speaks about our jobs with a different emphasis and knowledge set. It is as if we have an accent based on where we work and who we serve. Although they understand what an RA does and why I live in a free apartment too close to my students, they cannot understand why I laugh so hard at “Who drew penises on my bulletin board”.

When I am with my peers or I am at a ResLife conference, the language barrier is lifted. We all speak with the same strange dialect. We all laugh at “I’m not just your RA, I’m your friend”, because we get the subtext and probably have personal stories that go along with said quote. As much as I despise Residential Life at this point in my career, there are very few jobs that allow you to talk about sex with students, get paid good money to cut out construction paper for door decs, and wear PJs to meetings. Until I find a new job, I guess yo hablo ResLife. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wheel of Fortune, Thy Name is Enabler

It’s Friday. I’m exhausted from a week of duty. It’s Wheel of Fortune time. No matter how old Pat and Vanna get, I always enjoy his goofy bantering with the guests and her ability to make letter-turning appear glamorous. While Jeopardy makes me feel stupid, Wheel of Fortune makes me feel like a savant genius, especially when I beat my partner at solving the puzzles.

However, despite my love for the glitter and glam of Wheel of Fortune, tonight I realized that this game has become a simpler version than when I was a youngster. I remember when, during the final round, guests could only choose four letters and a consonant to solve the last puzzle. Now, contestants get the most common letters (RSTLNE) PLUS three more letters and an extra vowel! If they make it any easier, Pat will be solving the puzzles for them.

What happened to the bonus round being a challenge? When did Wheel of Fortune become molded by the same enabled generation that lives in our residence halls?When the going gets rough, apparently the tough demand the rough get easier. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Residential Life: It’s Easy to Get In, But Hard to Get Out

It’s that time of the year again! Career Placement Fairs galore! If you live where I am, you have your pick of NASPA, ACPA, OPE, and several local placement exchanges that would give away my location if revealed. It’s obvious that job searching within Higher Education, Residential Life in particular, is a HUGE event that every school cannot ignore. However, for the individual searching, it can be the roughest few months of their lives.

When I graduated and was interviewing for Hall Director positions, it was easy to find jobs to which I could apply. All I had to do was visit a few local recruitment fairs and search to discover an abundance of open positions. Most had the same requirements and deadlines so writing resumes was a snap. I was amazed, although not completely surprised, when I was called for approximately 15 interviews, which led to 5 campus visits. Despite the grueling eight-hour interviews and miles of travel, it was one of the easiest job searches I have completed.

As I earned my experiences and built my resume, I was confident that my credentials would result in a simple step up the Residential Life ladder. However, the rung of said ladder kept creeping beyond my reach and I felt trapped in my current position. With each new RA staff and hall opening, I longed for a live-off position. I applied to job after job only to receive disappointment and rejection. Even the positions for which I landed an on-campus interview ended in, “thanks, but no thanks”. A cynical voice in the back of my head threatened that I will always be a hall director and my only hope out of the live-on position is to return to my table-waiting days.

This year MUST be different. I need to get a new job and feel the rush of paying rent to a landlord that has legal restrictions against entering my apartment unannounced. I need to experience the soul-crushing commute with other hardworking Americans each day. I need to feel like I have a job that really is separate from my personal life. At this point, I do not care if I have to drive 30 minutes to work, I need a change. So, just like the past few years, I polish up my resume, type cover letters until my fingers hurt, and desperately hope that this is the year I move out of a residence hall and into a moderately priced flat. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Hate You, You Hate Me...

Tomorrow is our departmental meeting where we all cram into the auditorium, listen passively about updates to our residence halls, and pretend that we are one big, happy Student Affairs family. Along with the announcements, there are inspirational speeches combined with a few "fun" games intended to boost morale during the winter doldrums. However, we all think the same thing: who gives a crap.

The reality of it is that barely anyone works well together in my department. Maintenance hates the custodians who hate the hall directors who, in turn, hate the Area Director team. We all are extremely territorial about our areas and feel no one, but ourselves, works to their potential. Given the contentious relationship among most people in the room, these gatherings are seen as a tremendous insult to those who try hard to cooperate with others despite the rude comments and passive-aggression faced on a regular basis.

Honestly, nothing will change the fact that, every year, the maintenance and custodial staffs walk in late wearing tattered jeans and carrying a pile of doughnuts, even though professional staff has been ordered to wear a three-piece suit on threat of death. The inconsistency in standards is what frustrates many of my peers who work hard to convey a professional image while others in the department skirt around policies whenever possible.

Then there are the promises made at each meeting that we will work more with external departments and not remain closed off inside our heavily guarded silo. Ha! That never happens. We are despised by most offices for our gluttonous budget, our snooty attitudes that scream "we have the hardest job on campus and you don't", and an unwillingness to compromise unless we benefit from it.

Last month, I needed to speak to New Student Programs regarding a student in crisis. The icy reception I received was so frigid I caught cold over the phone. I have always treated NSP with respect; however, as I later learned, earlier in the week, my boss' boss had insulted their director during a meeting with several VPs, accusing them of failing to recruit enough residential students for us to meet our residency quota. Nothing says "working outside our silo" better than publicly throwing another office under the bus for failing to do OUR job.

As we start our new semester, I am once again forced to grit my teeth as I attend another meeting pledging collaboration and positive attitudes. Maybe this year they will finally succeed at bringing us together for more than fattening pastries. Maybe this year they will honor the promises to respect the hard work other departments are doing across campus. Or, maybe this year I'll come in late carrying a grande latte while wearing my Care Bear t-shirt.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Jerseys, Old Athletics

This morning, on Sunday Morning (CBS), an article ran about the ever changing football uniforms for the Oregon Ducks at Oregon State University. According to the segment, the Rose Bowl winning team “never wears the same uniform twice”. They even introduced shiny new helmets that got a lot of oohhs and aahhs during one of their games. The trend of designing flashy uniforms to increase the hype and marketability of a team is not just for the Ducks; University of Maryland recently released a new version of their traditional jerseys. (A Gridiron Fashion Statement)

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not ask the question that looms in the minds of Student Affairs/Academic Affairs professionals everywhere: who is paying for this? Another question I need to raise is: how much money is being cut from academic programs, scholarships, or department budgets to make up for the extravagant new uniforms? Even if the money is not being funneled away from the rest of the school, why should the extra funds they (apparently) have to frivolous spend on the cost of designing new uniforms not be spent on helping the rest of the collegiate community? Why not share the wealth?

Why is it that athletic departments appear to have a bottomless budget for player recruitment, uniform creation, and coaches’ salaries? Yet, when the rest of the school needs money to retain quality teaching staff or provide need-based aid for students, there is no money left? As I wrote in my last rant on athletics, I understand that sports programs bring in students and increase morale amongst the student body. But, I wonder how much money and resources they steal (or absorb, to be less accusatory) from other areas of the college or university?

Nothing will change—I get it. However, that does not mean we should stop rallying against the opulent style of athletic departments that drain the financial well dry, leaving the rest of us cutting budgets and praying there will be funding next year. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

RA Training: There Goes My Resolution (And Diet)

Happy New Year! It’s the time of the year when everyone resolves to eat better, visit the gym more often, and kick an unhealthy habit. However, a good percentage of us fall off the organic granola bandwagon and resort to our old ways. What frustrates me is that right around the time when people are struggling to stick to a healthy lifestyle, RA training begins, which means pizza, taco nights, and soda (lots of it!).

This will be my third year on the RA Training Committee, and like last year, my pleas for alternatives to the grease, chemicals, and high-fructose corn syrup have fallen onto deaf (and overweight) ears. I am not demanding that all RAs and professional staff adhere to a draconian diet; all I am asking is that we consider purchasing better food or at least increase the budget for our staffs to afford dinners other than pizza and Pepsi. Yet, like last year, I have been told due to financial strains on the department, we will be sticking with the usual vendors for training.

What baffles my mind is how a mostly overweight department can justify continuing to feed their staff food that is processed and fatty. Plus, they rarely support those who take their nutrition into their own hands. While not everyone is satisfied with the quality of meals, and some professional staff members choose to bring their own lunch, they are usually ostracized and ridiculed behind their backs. Why all the animosity? It is my thought that those who deride their peers are jealous that they are unable to embrace a healthy lifestyle themselves. Or, they unfairly feel they are being judged by the “thin people”. Whatever their reason, it sickens me when I hear the nasty taunts against those who packed a lunch of their liking, rather than succumb to crappy food.

In my state, the obesity rate is almost 25% of the adult population. Although, not the highest in the nation, it is still alarmingly high and should signal the need for Residential Life departments to place a greater emphasis on healthier eating, especially during training when most staff members have no choice but to eat the pizza, wings, and fried foods. If we require everyone to build community through meals then we have a responsibility to make sure there are more vegetables, less grease, and better options than what we are currently offering. If we want to save our budget and build a strong staff, something needs to change, because what we are doing now is failing—big time!

I’m not preaching that we all need to be a size 4. What I am suggesting is that there is no harm in spending a little more money on higher quality food during training. If that means professional staff members do not receive their usual college swag or that we cancel the Yankee Swap party in December then so be it. I would happily forgo another free travel mug with the department’s logo imprinted on it for training to be a healthier experience. However, knowing our department, nothing will change since my boss really likes his free sweatshirt and his boss really likes to save money.