By Kylie Jue
On Saturday, three Cedro resident assistants (RAs) were fired after allegedly drinking or smoking weed with their freshman residents during their ski trip.
Cedro’s dorm ski trip took place during the weekend of Jan. 23-25, and according to a Cedro resident, investigation of the staff members by Residential Education (ResEd) began on Thursday after Cedro’s resident faculty members (RFs) were allegedly notified of the events that occurred in Tahoe.
The resident also explained that after the return to campus, students had expressed mixed feelings about their RAs’ behavior during the trip. ResEd ultimately made the decision to remove the RAs from their positions and notified them of the possibility on Friday night.
“We always take the decision to remove a student staff member from his or her position very seriously,” wrote Koren Bakkegard, associate dean of ResEd, in a statement to The Daily. “While the General Expectations and Agreement [for Student Staff in Residence] is one part of the evaluation, we also take into account contextual factors such as a staff member’s judgment, decision-making, credibility, efficacy, trust and leadership.”
“Please also note that even when we determine it is necessary to remove a staff member from his or her position, that does not negate for us the positive contributions made by a staff member on other occasions,” she added. “It is possible to be a valuable staff member and to make decisions that necessitate removal from that leadership role.”
Bakkegard also spoke about the investigation process and explained that while the RFs are consulted, the final decision lies with ResEd professional staff.
“When we receive information of concern about a student staff member, we endeavor to talk with individuals with direct knowledge of the situation,” Bakkegard said. “We also talk with the staff members to hear their perspectives on the information we have received. Once we have a sufficient understanding of the situation, we consult among a small number of Residential Education professional staff members to evaluate the nature of the incident and whether it is a violation of the staff member’s contract and relationship of trust with Residential Education. That evaluation includes consideration of the context in which the behavior occurred and whether the staff member can serve as a credible role model for good judgment, decision-making and leadership following an incident.”
Hiring new staff
Cedro’s remaining staff members include their resident computer consultant (RCC), peer health educator (PHE) and one RA. According to the Cedro resident, ResEd is looking to hire new RAs as soon as possible.
Since the new staff members need to have already undergone training, the new RA will likely be a senior or coterminal student who has worked as an RA in the past, the resident said.
“Every year we have encountered situations in which a student staff member needed to leave his/her position,” Bakkegard said. “The process for identifying new staff depends on the time of the year. When we are appointing staff mid-year, among the options we typically explore are drawing from existing staff (PHEs, RCCs) and reaching out to students who have been on staff in the past. Outgoing staff receive new housing assignments.”
The fired staff members began moving out on Monday and will have completely relocated to dorms with vacancies by Wednesday.
Effects on the community
According to another Cedro resident, many students in the dorm are upset at the firing of their RAs and have been negatively affected by the decision.
“The RA is somebody who’s your mentor, somebody who you look up to, somebody who gives you guidance throughout freshman year,” the resident said. “My RA has made such a big impact on my transition to Stanford and my first quarter here and half of winter quarter that it’s such a shame to see [them] have to leave for just spending the weekend with us at ski trip.”
“The Cedro residents also feel like we’ve been robbed of an integral part of our community,” the resident added. “Beyond just impacting the RAs, it impacts the entire dorm. Overall, I think the entire dorm unanimously thinks it was a horrible decision.”
The resident also expressed concern about the integration of new staff members into the Cedro community, especially given the way in which the previous RAs were fired.
“Think from [the freshmen’s] perspective how weird it would be to have a 25-year-old living in our dorm,” the resident said. “At the end of the day, there’s no way I could ever connect to a 25-year-old, or there’s no way I would ever approach him for any issue or any problem I may have — whether that be personal or academic or school-related.”
Bakkegard said that ResEd understood the difficulties that the dorm was going through and said that they are currently in the process of finding a new team of staff members.
“We know it can be hard on a house community whenever there are changes to the staff team,” Bakkegard wrote. “The primary concern for the Cedro Resident Fellows is building a new staff team that will come together quickly as a team and will connect with the residents to help everyone move forward as a community. I hope that the Cedro residents will welcome any new staff and be open to building new relationships.”
In the broader dorm community, the decision has also sparked conversation about the roles of staff members and their connections with residents.
“What many staff members are feeling is, ‘What if this happened to me?’ Tons of staff members drink with their residents,” said an RA at another freshman dorm. “A lot of staff members are reevaluating their relationships with their residents and co-staff because no one wants to be ratted on.”
According to another Cedro resident, several students have tried contacting ResEd through emails in order to ask them to repeal the decision.
“Everybody is extremely unhappy and shocked,” the resident said. “We’re all sending out emails to the ResEd [official] who made the decision.”
As of this afternoon, no official emails or announcements had been released to notify Cedro residents regarding the situation, but an emergency dorm meeting will take place at 10 p.m. on Monday.
Contact Kylie Jue at kyliej ‘at’ stanford.edu and Catherine Zaw at czaw13 ‘at’ stanford.edu.