Residence students battle expectations

By Brent Constantin

Residents of residence are having some reservations about recreation.

Last Wednesday the University of Calgary Residence Students’ Association was given a probation notice from Residence Food and Conference Services, and some members aren’t too happy.

RSA president Luke Mason, who represents about 1,750 students living on campus, revealed the probation is the result of several issues.

“We basically had really big parties in residence and, unfortunately, the way they went down and the way they were handled by people in my camp were not the best.”

The result is a probation that dictates RSA orientation for residence leaders will be pushed forward to general orientation week — where it had typically been the week previous — all members must now uphold the community standards (rules in residence) in their own lives and all of the apartment student representatives will lose access to the Olympus building, where their vice-presidents live.

Mason said the probation is unfortunate, but not unjustified.

“I think [the probation] is just as much my fault as it is [the administration’s]. There was a lack of communication of expectations for us when we came in,” he said. “I should have pursued those expectations.”

But, according to RSA events commissioner Kim Richards, the probation is just one sign that the relationship between administration and the RSA is changing.

“The RSA is there to represent students,” said Richards. “The administration is trying to get rid of that representation with these sanctions.”

Students’ Union president Charlotte Kingston said she was unaware there was an issue until recently.

“I have taken part in a lot of residence events this year and they were going above and beyond to keep as dry as possible,” Kingston said. “The RSA is an important community member, I’m surprised this is how the admin reacted.”

RFCS acting director Randy Maus wouldn’t comment specifically on the probation but said that ultimately the RSA is responsible to the administration.

“Just like clubs underneath of the SU, if they broke terms and agreements that’s who they would be accountable to — that’s similar to us,” Maus said. “There are certain expectations from residences services of what [the RSA] would do.”

While the probation is frustrating, Mason remains optimistic that the RSA can use this as a learning experience.

“I think it’s a wake up call, a slap on the wrist to let us know that some of the more Animal House type of things that can happen in residence, especially in regards to alcohol, are definitely frowned upon.”

These aren’t the first changes to come to residence recently. Residence services implemented a controversial policy this summer banning all glass beer bottles from student living quarters; one that Richards said is unfair.

“It doesn’t make any sense why we can bring in other glass bottles but not beer bottles. I suspect that having a dry residence is the long-term goal,” she said.

Maus said a dry residence is something that hasn’t been discussed and that the reason for the beer bottle ban is safety.

“We had a lot of issues with beer bottles particularly being thrown out windows, broken on walls,” said Maus. “[The beer bottle ban] limits the types of beers students can keep in their rooms, but it does reduce the amount of glass, which for us is the big issue.

“We’ll hear arguments like ‘we’re not being treated like adults,’ ” Maus continued. “We have enough people in residence that aren’t acting like adults to justify it. Yes it’s inconvenient, but, at the end of the day, is it really a right to have beer in a bottle?”

The RSA continues to work with the administration in regards to the probation, but Mason hopes that no matter what happens the issue doesn’t tarnish the reputation of the students’ association.

“The RSA is a benefit to the school,” said Mason. “I hope that this probation doesn’t make the people that are looking down on us forget the positive impact that we have on campus.”

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