Hey, administration: Do better for your CAs

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“You knew what you were signing up for” could have been a valid excuse to shut up a Community Advisor complaining about their job, but only if we weren’t in the middle of a global pandemic. Instead, what we, as CAs, signed up for is not what we were expecting or were promised. In short, I, as well as many other CAs, am fed up with not only the way residents have been treating us this year but with the administration as well.  

To start, Community Advisors are not the police officers of campus. That is not our job. As student employees who are meant to build community within residence halls, we are finding it very difficult to do so if community members are being unsafe and disrespectful to us.  

Like we were trained, we report those who are violating COVID policies — but, we are the majority doing the reporting. For something that is supposed to be dispersed to students across campus, most expect CAs to do all the reporting. And we knew that was going to be one of our responsibilities this year. But for us to be the major group reporting? That resulted in being hated and harassed by the very people we protect and live with. 

Community Advisors are not upset at the fact that part of our job is to report people violating COVID policies. In fact, we take our jobs seriously and we know how crucial reporting is for the campus. Or, at least, how crucial we thought reporting students was. But the administration has failed us.  

For violations that we do report, especially for serious cases I have reported, major action has not been taken to help or protect us. Although weekly Judicial Board hearings are taking place, this solution was not utilized with the serious cases I have dealt with. I know Lawrence is a place that prides itself on education when resolving incidents, but during a global pandemic, I really do not believe the educational path is rigorous enough concerning COVID violations.  

As a Community Advisor, I need to see action beyond the administration “resolving” policy violations just by having conversations. As student employees who risk their own physical, mental and emotional health to protect residence halls, Community Advisors deserve to see real solutions for multiple violations, especially those involving guest policy concerns and mask wearing.  

Accidentally forgetting your mask in the hallway is very different from violating the guest policy multiple times, but from my personal experience, as well as many other CAs, the administration deals with both concerns in the same way. Please note that these cases are so extreme that they go beyond the power Residence Hall Directors hold. Even some RHDs are struggling with the repercussions of reporting. 

Administration appears to not have a reliable operation plan for appropriately solving concerns based on their level of severity. On top of their unsuccessful way of addressing violations, they have not properly supported Community Advisors who are facing the aftermath of reporting head-on. 

As a CA who has dealt with multiple forms of harassment, including name-calling and bullying from their own residents, I have experienced no weight lifted off my shoulders due to the administration’s help. I have not only consistently reported people but have been in communication with the appropriate administration. For all of the emotional and mental trauma I have experienced within this position, I have not once been satisfied with how my cases of harassment have been dealt with. I am not the only one who feels this way. 

In a building in which I am supposed to be creating a welcoming community, I am the one being rejected and ousted. In addition, residents have brought up concerns with me about these same incidents. Every time I tell my residents the importance of reporting the concerns that they see, I feel sorry for them because I feel that there simply will not be a lasting effect from the reports they file. 

I receive harassment by reporting, but I report anyways because I believe that this will truly change the unsafe behaviors I have dealt with. But, let me be clear: I feel like reporting is not working. As someone who has filled out a surprising amount of reports, consequences have not been given fairly, and I have not been treated respectfully. Administration needs to change their system of reporting or support their Community Advisors when facing harassment and discomfort due to filing reports on residents. They cannot do nothing for both sides of the spectrum. 

I have repeatedly stated how uncomfortable and unsafe I feel in my own residence hall. I have reached out to the people in the administration who I thought could offer insight and solutions to bullying. Instead, the administration seems to have forgotten that Community Advisors are students first. I have struggled with my mental health and emotional well-being because of the backlash I have faced after filling out COVID reports. I experience all of this while being paid the same as any other year.  

So, here is a message to the administration. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. You are not allowed to expect Community Advisors to be the backbone of your COVID violation reporting system without offering them better pay, protection against harassment and a system that offers real solutions. The same should be done for RHDs. We are overworked, underpaid, and I am simply tired of the disrespect I, and many others, not only face consistently from residents but you as well. 

Lastly, I’d like to remind the administration that they rely on Community Advisors. You need us. Change the reporting system. Give us the support we need. If we do not see actual results, we will not be keeping our positions. We simply cannot face any more damage to our well-being. We are not only students but human beings. You clearly need a reminder of this as well. 

Do better. The stability of your residence halls relies on it.