The publication of an op-ed by Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15) in this paper last week has had profound effects on campus since it went to press. His account of how systemic mismanagement and stonewalling by the Office of Residential Living left him without help or support shocked many and has been received with less-than-open arms by Harbin 100.

For many resident assistants, Lloyd’s piece has created an important opportunity to speak candidly, openly and in many cases, quite damningly of how Residential Living has failed its student employees when they desperately needed help.

It’s important to remember that RAs are student employees first and foremost, though ORL and RAs themselves might forget. RAs often see their position as somewhere between an extracurricular commitment, a job and a lifestyle, albeit one that requires them to hop out of bed at 4 a.m. when you lock yourself out. (We may forget, but never forgive.)

But being an RA is a job and an important one. However committed Tucker is to the Lecture Fund, he would not attempt to chase after vomiting sophomores at 2 a.m. for it. On the other hand, Tucker has done this (unfortunately) multiple times as an RA. Why? Because it’s his job. He has responsibilities and he holds up his end of the bargain, despite the vomit.

But if Lloyd’s allegations and those of numerous RAs published subsequently in the Georgetown Voice are factual — and this RA has little reason to doubt that they are — then Residential Living has not been holding up its end of the bargain. RAs have come forward as being survivors of sexual assault and stalking, have shared stories of being ignored or belittled by ORL and many other incidents.

There are very few jobs that carry direct implications for both an individual’s housing and education, but being an RA is one of them. Upon termination from her or his position, an RA automatically loses housing. Few things can be so disruptive to both personal wellness and academic success as a university-enforced eviction, but it remains Georgetown’s stated policy for RAs.

More seriously, for the multitude of RAs for whom the financial benefits make attending Georgetown possible, termination from the RA position is really termination from Georgetown. If you have lived in student housing, chances are, you had an RA who depended on the financial benefits of his or her position to return to campus each fall.

As a result, it’s little wonder that you don’t often hear about an RA being fired on this campus. For RAs, the costs are simply too high to contemplate risking their employment. Whether consciously or not, Residential Living and the university have RAs pinned.

As the testimonials have shown, RAs can fight bureaucracy, incompetence and insensitivity, but only to a point. When push comes to shove, RAs know their employer, Georgetown University, can completely upend their lives should it so decide. In this way, they are perhaps more vulnerable to workplace abuse and short shrift than any other student workers.

This is why RAs need serious help and immediate change on this campus. As advocates for students, they work harder than their supervisors or residents may ever realize. But when an RA needs an advocate, there’s no duty phone to call. RAs need someone on the other end of the line. Right now, no one is answering.

Georgetown University Student Association’s recent establishment of the Office of the Student Worker Advocate is a step in the right direction. If there was ever a time that student workers needed an advocate, it’s now. In the coming weeks and months, OSWA and GUSA must critically and unrelentingly engage more broadly with Residential Living and Student Affairs to meaningfully address the concerns that RAs have raised.

However, these concerns will never be satisfactorily addressed until Residential Living makes students’ concerns its own concerns. And to do that, it must first start engaging with students instead of issuing marching orders. In the last week, Residential Living central staff members have opened their doors to RAs to voice concerns. This is good; more is better.

ORL must establish an ombudsman or advocate within its office charged specifically with the welfare of RAs and addressing the concerns that have been raised. RAs need someone beyond their community director to whom they can bring private issues and problems, without the fear of reprisal or termination.

The current system is flawed, and a new one is necessary. Until Residential Living takes serious action, it continues to endorse the status quo.

Thomas ChristiansenTucker Cholvin and Thomas Christiansen are seniors in the School of Foreign Service. This is the final appearance of Culture Clash this semester.

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