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Op-Ed: ResEd can do better

It was the night of Eurotrash, and I had the “misfortune” of being on-call while my residents experienced their first college party. One minute, I was ordering DoorDash in the lounge; the next, I was sprinting towards the Row with a backpack full of water. All I knew was that a resident needed help. When I arrived on the Row, I saw an unfortunately familiar sight: incredibly intoxicated, semi-conscious students, most surrounded by friends, but others completely alone. Yet familiarity is different than preparedness. At that moment, it became clear that I was not given the resources to deal with this. In fact, none of us were.

Stanford relies on its student staff to address some of the most difficult problems facing the student body. A cursory glance at the sheer breadth of Stanford’s staff training would surprise many: mental health, enforcing alcohol and drug policies, programming events, community-building, managing interpersonal conflict, fostering diversity and inclusion, recognizing eating disorders and more. We are expected to balance a regular academic course load while also serving as points of contact between our residents and the dizzying array of resources on campus.

Additionally, the administrative structure of ResEd remains incredibly obscure. Try asking a current staff member if they can differentiate an associate dean, an assistant dean and a residential dean. I’d argue that a minority of residential staff members know the purposes of each of these roles, and that even fewer can name the relevant ResEd representatives for their specific dorm or house. Even worse, ResEd itself is short-staffed.

Working as a student staff member can feel like tending to a house on fire: As you try to rescue more people inside, you put a greater strain on your own health and safety. Constantly responding to the crises of others can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. We need more support.

I am tired of hearing stories of staff members crying themselves to sleep.

I am tired of learning that the University is short-staffed on residential deans, the people who are supposed to be there when our jobs are at their most difficult.

I am tired of seeing my friends struggle to get adequate sleep because of staffing concerns.

I am tired of watching people distance themselves from their friends because their job is so demanding.

I am tired of being tired.

For those who might read this and believe that I am unhappy as an RA, know that I love my job. My residents give me the strength to deal with Stanford’s many challenges. Seeing residents singing in the stairway, arguing over who is better at ping pong, or struggling through assignments with their peers reminds me daily why I love Stanford. Yet my love of the job should not excuse Stanford’s negligence on how it handles residential education. I call on Stanford to provide a minimum of three things:

1) Mental health resources tailored specifically for student staff. Constantly responding to the needs of others involves its own unique psychological challenges. Student staff deserve to have specific resources — “RAs for the RAs,” so to speak — that can help them address the psychological toll of staffing.

2) An easy-to-understand guide of how to navigate and interact with ResEd. There needs to be clarity around when we should reach out to the administration for help and who we should contact when these situations arise. The burden should not rest on us to understand ResEd’s complex structure.

3) Better partnership between professional staff and student staff. Professional staff often fail to adequately communicate with student staff when addressing resident concerns, leaving student staff feeling like their authority and wishes are being undermined.

I cannot ignore the great work of ResX. The process welcomed far more student input than expected, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next. Nevertheless, student staff cannot wait 10 to 15 years for the above changes; we need help now.

There are many people in the administration who care deeply about student well-being, but this crisis demands far more urgency. Though pay raises are steps in the right direction, Stanford must do far more than throw money our way to help us cope.

— Isaiah Drummond ‘20, ASSU Executive candidate, Meier RA

Co-signed by:

Ana Cabrera ‘20, Soto RCC

Ashley Song ‘20, Roble RA

Ashwin Reddy ‘20, Sally Ride RA

Caleb Martin ‘20, Phi Sig RCC

Chase Davis ‘20, Sally Ride RA

Christian Ostberg, ‘20, Meier RA

Ellie Utter ‘20, Soto RA

Emily Wilson ‘20, Arroyo RA

Erik Van ‘20, Crothers RA

Huanvy Phan ‘20, Okada ETA

Jack Golub ‘20, Soto RA

Jackson Eilers ‘20, Arroyo RA

Javier Aguayo ‘19, Casa Zapata RA

Jessie Seng ‘20, Meier RA/PHE

Jesus Cervantes ‘20, Norcliffe/Adelfa RA

Jomo Arcibal ‘20, Sally Ride RCC

Julia Gillette ‘20, Donner PHE

Lauren Seabrooks ‘19, Bob RA, former Larkin RA

Leila Mengesha ‘20, Arroyo RA

Loghan Thain ‘20, JRo RA

Lyndie Ho ‘20, Donner RA

Madison Largey ‘20, Cedro PHE

Maeve Givens ‘20, Roble RA

Maggie Wood ‘19, Phi Sig KM, former Crothers RA

Marco Lee ‘20, Cedro RA

Meg Enthoven ‘20, Donner RA

Priya Chatwani ‘20, West Lag RCC

Rachel Heymach ‘19, Meier RA

Remy Gordon ‘20, Donner RA

Sam Duke ‘20, Castaño RA

Scarlett Guo ‘19, Okada PHE

Shravya Gurrapu ‘20, Soto PHE

Sofia Poe ‘19, Sally Ride PHE

Steve Weyns ‘20, West Flo RA

Tatiana Balabanis ‘19, Mars RA, former Twain RA

TK Moloko ‘20, Roble RA

Walker Ramirez ‘19, Soto RA 

Zach Clayton ‘20, Cedro RA

Contact Isaiah Drummond at idrummon’@’stanford.edu

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