Drug-centered event prompts Slav staff turnover

March 4, 2014, 1:46 a.m.
SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily
SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily

A Slavianskii Dom staff member was fired and the house’s resident assistant (RA) driven to resignation last week, following fallout from a drug-centered event held at the house.

According to house residents, the Feb. 22 event—which was hosted privately by the house’s community manager—featured a large amount of pot in various edible forms. In an open email to the house mailing list, the RA argued that the lack of warning given and the risk of inadvertent or excessive consumption by residents obliged her to consult the Row’s residence dean (RD), who subsequently instructed her to shut the event down.

“I called the RD because it was my job, and also because I wanted to do right by you, and because I was worried for your safety,” she wrote in the email.

Following meetings between University administrators and house staff, the community manager was fired last week and barred from returning to the house.

The decision to report the event and implicate a fellow staff member to the residence dean received extensive criticism from Slav residents. House members argued that the community manager should not have been reported by a fellow staff member without prior warning or consultation among the staff, and more than 30 residents authored character references for the community manager prior to his dismissal.

In her email to the house, the resident assistant framed the hostile reception to her decision as making her continued role in the house untenable. She resigned Tuesday evening.

“I stand by my decision 100% to pick up the phone and ask the RD for help on Saturday,” she wrote. “I have not been able to sleep for days because this has been unbelievably stressful, but in a few weeks, I know that I will rest easy knowing that I did the right thing by all of you.”

“I assure you that your efforts to make me feel unwelcome in a community I have put so much effort, care, and love into were the absolute LAST things I needed yesterday,” she added, addressing residents who had expressed criticism. “You have made this a toxic environment for me and are the reason I am choosing to leave it.”

Slav residents portrayed the incident as reflective of longstanding issues with this year’s staff, in terms of both intra-staff communication and engagement with residents. Residents also critiqued an alleged lack of engagement by University administrators, noting that they had received no official communications until Tuesday.

Residential Education Associate Dean Nate Boswell ’99 M.A. ’09 emphasized the challenges of replacing two staff members from the same house at the same time.

“The removal of a staff member for any reason generally reveals a whole bunch of other things that might have been going on within the community,” Boswell said. “Those houses are often a very intimate community for people so any transition can be pretty disruptive.”

‘“Most of the time, generally speaking, these situations are complicated,” he added. “Those choices can impact the health of the house…so especially when there’s an incident or a set of concerns that trigger an action like this, subsequently there are a lot of conversations to have…to figure out the best course of action.”

According to Boswell, Slav staff members and staff from other Row houses collaborated to compensate for the two lost staff members over the past week. Slav’s resident computer consultant has since been named as the dorm’s new resident assistant, while the search for another community manager and resident computer consultant continues. Boswell said that replacement staff would likely be drawn from current residents.

“Because the house, by this time of the year, tends to be quite close…it’s least disruptive to solicit existing staff members or existing residents,” he explained. “That said, it’s not unheard of to solicit students from outside the house and depending on the circumstances that’s sometimes actually to the benefit.”

Contact Marshall Watkins at mtwatkins ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu

Marshall Watkins is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily, having previously worked as the paper's executive editor and as the managing editor of news. Marshall is a junior from London majoring in Economics, and can be reached at mtwatkins "at" stanford "dot" edu.

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