Incoming RAs worry amid uncertainty about next school year

June 17, 2020, 9:06 p.m.

Incoming residential assistants (RAs) have expressed concerns about preparations for staffing amid continuing uncertainty about Stanford’s plans for next year, including a lack of communication from Residential Education (ResEd) about postponed staff training and the potential challenges of a hybrid school year. 

Next year’s student staff have not yet completed spring training, which ResEd postponed at the beginning of the quarter. Spring training was intended to include virtual meetings with resident fellows (RFs), community coordinators and residential deans, as well as mixers with current staff and discussions on roles and expectations.

Spring training is generally an overview of the staffing role, not of specific responsibilities like the enforcement of alcohol policy. The more in-depth training usually occurs in the two to three weeks before fall quarter begins. Students say its status is also currently unknown.

ResEd told students they “would be in touch about fall training at some point, but we haven’t heard anything,” said incoming Cedro RA Kate Frimet ’22. 

Student Affairs spokesperson Pat Harris told The Daily that ResEd “expects to be in touch with additional information via email this summer.”

“ResEd will do its best to provide appropriate training after more is known about the university’s plans for fall quarter,” Harris wrote.

Amid the disruption to spring training, some RFs and former RAs have attempted to maintain a sense of community and prepare incoming staffers.

“[Our RFs] have been super supportive already and even gave us new staffers a virtual ‘roll-out’ where this year’s staffers surprised our Zoom call and shared some of their wisdom,” wrote incoming Faisan RA Ryan Tan ’21.

Incoming RAs have also expressed concerns about the challenges that next year could bring, especially after the University announced plans to have just half of the undergraduate student body on campus each quarter. Students are expected to study on campus for two quarters, in a rotation, and complete one quarter virtually. 

The University has said it intends to have frosh on campus during the fall. For incoming Larkin RA Pranavi Kethanaboyina ’22, that’s a relief. But she told The Daily that she’s still worried about being able to give her frosh the relationships and dorm community that she found so important her first year. Many experiences will have to be re-imagined, though not necessarily in a bad way, she said. 

“There’s quintessential freshman things at Stanford that I think we took for granted and I’m just sad that frosh won’t experience in the same way,” Kethanaboyina said. 

Frimet described questions about job security and the lack of clear timelines for future staffers — “whether I’ll be staffing all four quarters, whether I’ll be staffing upperclassmen as the [class] years cycle through, how many staffers will be in each dorm, and whether everyone hired to be an RA will be working as much as we expected.”

Although incoming staff expressed worries about the uncertainties of the following school year, many hoped to grow into their roles.

“Whether a student needs an ear to rant to, a shoulder to lean on, a mentor, a friend, or even just someone with band-aids and candy, I decided to staff hoping to fill those needs,” Frimet wrote.

“We will do the best we can to do the thing we signed up to do: be there for freshmen, facilitate community and connection, and help them as they figure out what it means to be a Stanford student and who they are in college,” Kethanaboyina said.

Contact Alexander Li at ali17 ‘at’

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