ResLife Treatment Unfair

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Ludwell Apartments. HANNAH CHO / THE FLAT HAT

Here is a series of facts: I was, until recently, a resident assistant for Ludwell Apartments. My friend and I made the choice to leave bottles of alcohol in a small, empty lounge in Lemon Hall one Saturday night. No alcohol had been consumed, even though both of us are over 21. The RA on duty discovered these bottles in the lounge and, when we confirmed they were ours, wrote a conduct report as his job required. We complied fully with the aforementioned report. Three days later, my area director asked to see me and to hear an explanation of what happened. We have a strong relationship, and he did not believe extreme measures needed to be taken. Later that evening, he called me and said that Holly Alexander, the associate director for community development, had decided to terminate my employment. No warning was given. I was denied the possibility of an appeal. No discussion occurred between Holly and me before she made her decision.

The only three reasons given to me for the decision in a later conversation with her were that another resident was involved, another RA was involved and I broke a rule that I was supposed to enforce. On page 26 of the Student Staff Handbook, it says, “Residence Life reserves the right to terminate or request the resignation of a staff member whose work or behavior is judged to be unsatisfactory.” When I compared my situation with other residents who had the same conduct violation and were simply given a warning (as I was as well when I met with the Dean of Students Office), she said that I cannot compare their decisions to employment at ResLife. In that same conversation, she asked me what she was supposed to hypothetically say to a resident who came in with the same conduct violation and claim that an RA got away with a similar infraction.

I had been an RA for three semesters for both freshmen and upperclassmen. In that time, I had four area directors — in the later conversation with Holly, she explicitly said that no one ever had anything negative to say about me. I had developed a relatively strong community within my buildings and even throughout Ludwell, especially during the power outage in December 2018 when I spent five hours in the cold helping residents get into their buildings with the master key. The conduct violation, which the Dean of Students Office defines as a minor offense, was my first and only violation, and therefore not representative of my nature and ability as a student or employee. While I was admittedly a more relaxed RA, I did my job well and provided for my residents. We all know RAs who ‘got away’ with nefarious acts. Take these facts as you will, and if you are considering applying or reapplying for ResLife Student Staff, please be aware of unhealthy policies that deny personal and professional growth and that have no place at a progressive liberal arts college like ours.

Email Isaac Mantelli at

imantelli@email.wm.edu