A majority of resident-hall advisers at Western Washington University have sent a letter to the university alleging the department that oversees them is doing a poor job of running the program.
Nearly three-quarters of the resident-hall advisers at Western Washington University have signed a letter alleging the university has done a poor job of leading the adviser program and has mishandled or discounted issues raised by the student employees.
Resident advisers, or RAs, are students who live in the university-owned residence halls and are paid to work as peer advisers, troubleshooters and problem-solvers for students living in the dorms.
The student letter, signed by 53 of the 72 RAs, sums up issues in the WWU department known as University Residences. In their letter, the students wrote of “sexually charged incidents,” poor security in some of the halls and a lack of training for RAs.
In an email, WWU President Sabah Randhawa told the students he took their concerns seriously, and that he was asking Leonard Jones, the director of University Residences, to respond.
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Student Wayne Rocque, the vice president for student life in WWU student government, said Jones’ letter didn’t satisfy the RAs’ concerns because many of the complaints stem from Jones’ management of the office, and that students have raised these issues on a number of occasions, without getting a resolution to the problems.
In a letter addressing the RAs’ concerns, Jones expressed regret that students “feel disconnected and untrusting” of the staff, and said he would redouble efforts to bridge “the current perceived and real divides.” Jones invited RAs to a meeting on Thursday to discuss the issues.
In one case, students say, a felon entered a resident adviser’s room in Highland Hall and was found wearing her clothes. In their letter, the students say they were told not to share any details of the incident, and that there was no effort to make the dorm more secure by installing an external gate.
In his response, Jones wrote that Western made an arrest in the case and issued a campuswide alert. He said he would evaluate the safety situation at Highland Hall.
The students said they routinely exceed the 19 hours a week of work the job calls for, and that the adviser-to-resident ratio varies widely — with some students having as few as 27 residents to advise, and others having as many as 68.
In his letter, Jones says he has begun a systemic review of RA compensation.