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.