Widgets Magazine


Editorial: Nepotism on the Row

Every year, current row staffs go through the process of selecting the people to take their places and lead the row community for the following year. Undoubtedly, many of these new staff members are familiar to the houses in which they will work by serving as previous staff members, residents or at least friends.

Living in a row house is known to be an advantage when going through the process of applying to staff. Because of this, some people choose to draw tier one junior year, with the hope and expectation that it will help them be able to staff in a row house senior year. Those who are able to staff junior year are almost guaranteed a position the following year, and seniors who staff also have a good chance of being selected RA if they choose to return as a co-term.

The experience gained by being on staff is obviously valuable when reapplying, but even having been a resident has its benefits. People who have lived in a house know about the house’s traditions and events, as well as the issues that can arise in a particular house. In addition, someone valuing the community of a house enough to want to be on staff is only a good sign for his or her future dedication to the role.

Another advantage in the application process is simple friendship with current staff members. It is usually a good thing for the staff members to personally know applicants in order to have more confidence in applicants’ abilities than just a good application and interview could provide. This can also work to an applicant’s disadvantage if the staff members are aware that the person has a history of irresponsible behavior, despite a good interview.

Although familiarity with the house and with staff members can be valuable in the row staff application process, in too many cases friendships and history take precedence over ability and competence, leading to ineffective staffs.  Row staffs play an incredibly important role at Stanford; they are responsible for the building communities and maintaining the health and safety of their residents.  If they are not up to par, it can significantly tarnish the experiences of the students for whom they are responsible.

This year, Residential Education took a step towards lessening the power of nepotism by instituting a first round interview for Resident Assistant applications with an employee of ResEd and, in some interviews, a current RA. These interviews only provided recommendations to the staffs and were in no way binding; a staff is free to choose a candidate who received low marks from the initial interview. While the movement toward some sort of screening of applicants is good, row staffs know more about who can fill their roles and handle the specific issues that arise in their houses.

We recommend having a first round interview held by staff pooled from various houses for all row applicants. Applicants would have to be approved through this process before being considered by individual houses. This would prevent people from obtaining staff positions through pure nepotism, while leaving the evaluations of applicants in the hands of current staffs. However, it is important that each house staff have the final say on the selections for their houses’ new staffs, as each house has its own unique issues, following from its history, location, architecture, etc.

The row is an important and unique part of our university and community and it is essential that its leaders are responsible, competent and dedicated to maintaining a fun, exciting and healthy culture for all their residents.

About Editorial Board

Editorials represent the views of The Stanford Daily, an independent newspaper serving Stanford and the surrounding community. The Daily's Editorial Board consists of President and Editor-in-Chief Victor Xu '17, Executive Editor Will Ferrer '18, Managing Editor of Opinions Michael Gioia '17, Desk Editor of Opinions Jimmy Stephens '17, Senior Staff Writer Kylie Jue '17, Senior Staff Writer Olivia Hummer '17 and Senior Staff Writer Andrew Vogeley '17. To contact the Editorial Board chair, submit an op-ed (limited to 700 words) or submit a letter to the editor (limited to 500 words) at eic@stanforddaily.com.