University responds to allegations of RA mistreatment
The University has responded to the allegations, published last night in a Voice online exclusive, that the Office of Residential Living mishandles instances of work-related trauma among its resident assistants. The University has committed to review these issues and work towards addressing them and confirmed that Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15), an RA and the first responder to the Daniel Milzman (formerly COL ’16) ricin incident, will not be fired.
Lloyd initiated the RA criticism of ResLife after The Hoya published his account of the personal trauma he experienced as first responder to the ricin crisis. When fellow RAs feared for his job safety, they anonymously contributed stories of their own problems with ResLife to show that he is not alone and there is a problem within the organization which, they say, must be addressed.
Lloyd will not lose his job.
“He [Lloyd] is not going to be terminated or face disciplinary consequences for what he wrote,” Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said in a conference call with Vox and Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh.
“We respect the right of students who are part of our team to share their perspectives and we know these are important issues,” Olson said.
Olson said that the eight RA accounts published by the Voice last night are being reviewed and taken seriously and that outreach to the RA staff has already begun.
“We work hard to provide support, good training, ongoing support for everyone who serves as an RA,” Olson said. “We appreciate the hard work. We appreciate that their roles can be challenging. And so, we’re concerned about any reports like this that we read about.”
Olson denied that reporting work-related trauma, such as a sexual assault by a resident, makes an RA unlikely to be rehired or likely to be phased out of the RA program for being a potential liability, which was a concern brought up by several RAs whom the Voice interviewed.
“We work with a number of RAs, as we do with other students, who face a variety of challenges during the year, and our primary interest is in working with and supporting them, connecting them with resources that can be helpful,” Olson said. “And so I just don’t agree with that assertion.”
“The reports that have been made are issues that we take seriously,” Olson said. “We want to follow-up on them. We welcome RAs who have concerns to address those directly with the professional staff in Residential Living. I want to be clear: it’s not that that never happens. We certainly have, on an ongoing basis, RAs who bring their concerns, their challenging experiences to supervisors, to other staff in Residential Living, staff in CAPS. That happens regularly and we work with and support those students and work through those situations.”
Olson said he would not comment specifically on specific situations that were brought up, but said that all will be followed up on.
When asked what the normal policy is when an RA reports a work-related sexual assault, Olson said that those processes would be similar to if a student reported being sexually assaulted. Olson identified the numerous points of contact that are available for RAs in need of resources, many of which are confidential.
Katie Heather, associate director of ResLife, directed Vox‘s request for an interview to Pugh. Ed Gilhool, director of residential education for ResLife, was unavailable for comment today.
Photo: Vox Populi