Warren deans fire 8 RAs

    In response to the firing of eight Earl Warren College resident advisers and one Warren college student intern this week, students and other RAs spoke out at the Oct. 9 A.S. Council meeting on their behalf.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    The intern and RAs were fired for allegedly attending a Sept. 6 party in a Black Hall apartment, where alcoholic drinks were served to minors. Residents of the building moved in on Sept. 21 and 22.

    Administrators at Warren college were tight-lipped about the firings and were reluctant to say more than that the issue was a matter between employer and employee.

    “”Something occurred that had to be investigated that will lead to a change in staff,”” said Jeffrey L. Philpott, dean of student affairs at Warren college.

    Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph Watson, to whom college deans are responsible, was able to give more information.

    “”I understand [the incident in question] was a party with alcohol,”” he said.

    Claire Palmer, the resident dean of Warren college, called the firings a personnel matter and said, “”I’m bound to confidentiality.””

    Palmer was unable to comment further about the alleged incident, firings or whether the vacated positions will be filled. Normally, Warren college employs a total of 27 RAs.

    In an Oct. 3 letter sent by Palmer, 19 student staff members, the vast majority of which were RAs, were informed that they were put on investigatory leave effective immediately, during which time they were only allowed to spend 20 meal points per day on food until the investigation of the incident concluded. The letter was accompanied by copies of the policies that were allegedly violated.

    After the investigation, eight of the RAs and the one intern received letters signed by Palmer on Oct. 8 notifying them of their release from employment for “”violation of university policy and state law.”” The letter also stated that their Triton Plus accounts and meal cards had been deactivated. The students have until Oct. 13 to vacate their rooms.

    Having lost nearly one-third of their RAs, Warren residents felt shocked and angry.

    “”It’s sad. They were only here two weeks, and we were really happy to have a great RA,”” said Laura Harich, a Warren college freshman and resident whose RA was fired. “”It’s really sudden — too sudden.””

    Some residents felt the decision by the college was hasty and harsh.

    “”It’s absolutely ridiculous,”” said Emiley Eloe, a resident and sophomore at Warren college who attended the Oct. 9 A.S. Council meeting. “”I don’t understand how residential life expects to hire anyone else or just leave a gap there — it’s ridiculous. They just didn’t think through their whole decision.””

    The A.S. Council passed a resolution by a 17-1 margin to support the rights of RAs and encourage a town hall meeting of students and administrators to discuss the their employee rights.

    The first part of the council meeting became an open forum where residents and RAs from other colleges sounded off about the firings. Many chose to address the larger issue of student employee rights, especially when employed as an RA.

    Jeremy Paul Gallagher, who is a Sixth College RA and A.S. commissioner of services and enterprises, helped rally support behind the Warren RAs and introduced the resolution.

    He called the firings a “”blatant injustice to student life and student employee rights”” at the A.S. Council meeting. He said it was unjust that RAs don’t have the right to appeal administrative decisions and that the eight students had to vacate their rooms by Oct. 13.

    “”We’re calling for some contract to be written up so this doesn’t happen again,”” Gallagher said in an interview. “”We cannot continue with the injustice that is rampant across campus.””

    Andrew Shim, one of the eight RAs fired and a senior at Warren college, said he felt no animosity toward the deans, but believed he was treated heavy-handedly.

    “”It felt like we killed somebody, like we did something absolutely horrible. It hurt all of us, even the people who weren’t involved,”” he said.

    Part of the RAs’ grievance against the college was that they were held in a room while each RA was interviewed individually. They claim that they were told to turn off their cell phones and pagers and had to ask for permission to use the restroom.

    Additionally, the RAs were given no indication of who brought the incident up with the dean. Palmer said she was unable to comment on how her office was notified.

    All eight RAs had completed the three-week RA training session in early September and worked about 12 hours per day during Welcome Week.

    “”I hope there’s a resolution to this and RAs do get some rights,”” Shim said.

    Both Palmer and Watson said that the students had the right to appeal by having the case reviewed by the next level of supervision.

    “”The RA position is a staff position, and they have a full range of employee rights of appeal,”” Watson said.

    He added that he knew of at least two students who were appealing the decision.

    Shim said that several of the RAs plan on living together off campus. For some, this is their first time moving away from Warren college.

    “”Most of us have not lived off campus,”” Shim said, who has lived on campus since freshman year.

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