September 17, 2003

Incident Involving Alcohol Leaves R.A.s Without Jobs

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Being a college student and being responsible do not always go hand in hand, as several resident advisors (R.A.s) in Mary Donlon and Court Halls recently learned, after being fired by the university for violating regulations in an incident that occurred several weeks ago.

While exactly which rules were broken by the students remains unclear, Don King, in the office of student services, explained that “there were R.A.s that were found and it was substantiated that they violated both their expectations and responsibilities.”

As to the nature of the violations, King admitted only that, “It was serious enough that it warranted relieving them from their positions.”

Because the students were employed by community development of Campus Life, the university refused to disclose the names of the students involved and the reasons for their dismissal.

R.A.s are asked to leave their positions for a variety of reasons, King said. However, they are usually not forced to leave in groups as was the case with this incident.

Neither the administration nor any of the R.A.s contacted by The Sun would confirm the reasons for dismissal. According to freshmen living on the floors though, the incident involved underage drinking by these R.A.s employed by Cornell.

When asked what kinds of activities might constitute a violation, King mentioned that not being on call, failing to meet expectations and not providing sufficient programming could all suggest that an R.A. was not living up to his or her potential.

Serious infractions, such as those related to alcohol, would depend on the circumstances, according to King.

Resident advisors are permitted to drink in the dorms if they are 21 years or older and all of the people in the room are of age as well, according to King.

The vast majority of students living in the dorms where the incident took place, however, are freshmen and therefore, underage.

“Technically, they’re not supposed to be drinking in the residence hall,” King said. A large responsibility of being an R.A. is acting as a role model, he said, and drinking alcohol in the dorms is not exactly behavior that should be mimicked by those under 21.

According to Ben Slovis ’07, a Court Hall resident, there are only four R.A.s left of the nine who were assigned to the hall at the beginning of the year. Students at Donlon were unsure how many of their RAs were involved in the incident.

Slovis told The Sun that one of his R.A.s, David Gross, had been dismissed when he took a group of his students to dinner on campus. He did not, however, explain why he was being forced to leave.

“He just apologized and said he would miss us,” Slovis said.

Slovis’s floor had not been assigned a new R.A. as of Sunday, but students were told that a replacement would be found as soon as possible. In the interim period, the understaffed halls have been tended to by remaining RAs forced to cover additional shifts.

King said that the University is in the process of hiring new R.A.s to fill the vacated positions. Two or three students have already been hired. The R.A.s, who had been receiving free housing were forced to find alternative accommodations upon their dismissal.

“We worked with them about relocating them to other places on campus,” King said. Most relocated to other university housing, while a few moved off campus, according to King.

All will now be responsible for paying for their own housing.

King emphasized that a significant amount of research and thought went into the university’s decision. An entire week was devoted to determining what the infractions were and who was involved, by speaking to students and members of the community, King said. “We spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what is fair and what is an appropriate action to take,” King said.

“It seems unfair that they didn’t have an extra chance,” Slovis said. “The general consensus of the floor is that it was wrong that they got kicked out. They broke a rule.”

Calls to current residential hall advisors and those involved in the incident were left unanswered.

Archived article by Stephanie Baritz