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Three Cedro RAs fired for alleged drinking and smoking on ski trip

Three Cedro RAs were fired after allegations of drinking or smoking with their freshmen on ski trip (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Three Cedro RAs were fired after allegations of drinking or smoking with their freshmen on ski trip (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

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.

About Kylie Jue

Kylie Jue '17 was the Editor-in-Chief for Vol. 250. She first became involved with The Daily as a high school intern and now is a CS+English major at Stanford. A senior from Cupertino, California, she has also worked a CS 106 section leader. To contact Kylie, email her at kyliej ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Catherine Zaw

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email czaw13@gmail.com.
  • ’09

    “At the end of the day, there’s no way I could ever connect to a 25-year-old…”

    I’ve never felt more old in my life.

  • ’15

    I loved Cedro and loved having RAs who were social and fun and who brought that to the dorm with them, but they are paid residents of the dorm, and their role and viability as mentors depends on them being a student enjoying Stanford life without breaking the rules. There’s also the aspect of making it possible for non-drinkers or non-smokers to feel chill and included as well, but even putting that aside and recognising that Cedro seems to be a party dorm (or whatever you want to call it, don’t get caught up on a word…) every year, RAs are supposed to help freshman navigate Stanford successfully, i.e. without making decisions that will clearly get them in trouble.

    While I can’t personally understand how some people would be so bothered by RAs drinking/smoking with the freshman during ski trip that they would report it and get them fired, I think maybe the students who decided to smoke and drink with their RAs should take a look at how their actions have hurt the lives of their RAs — as a student who valued your RAs for being young and identifiable, why would you put your RAs in that position? Based on the experience of myself and my friends in Cedro, I can guess that those freshman who were involved probably spent a lot of time convincing their RAs and then proceeded to brag about it. That’s a lesson too, and a lesson for leaders and mentors and employees, who face greater consequences for breaking rules than the average individual.

    In this case, the RAs have the opportunity to show what it means to take responsibility for their decisions – hard as that might be. To be clear – I think they are doing so, and I know how difficult this is on a personal level as I have heard from one of them. I am really glad that Stanford doesn’t seem to be pursuing this as some enormous opportunity to make an example of these RAs by pursuing further action against them.

    Stanford’s rules are there, and in this situation no one can say they didn’t know them. The situation might really suck, for the RAs more than anyone, but would sending the message to freshmen that Stanford won’t enforce its rules or will enforce them unevenly, really be better than introducing some new mentors to the community, ones who aren’t going to be peer-pressured into breaking their contract with Stanford as their university and their employer?

  • My thoughts

    It is the RAs responsibility to follow their own contracts, not the freshmen’s responsibility. End of story. If anything, these freshmen should be applauded for exposing their RAs.

    I was a freshmen RA once in a big party dorm. Didn’t drink with them until the year ended. Wasn’t that hard. I didn’t say “no” to the ones who asked, I said “yes” to abiding by the terms of my employment.

  • James

    What a bunch of whinny, entitled children. You’re adults now; adults drink and smoke—deal with it. Sure there are rules. Up till now, you’re whole life has been about rules—rules from home, from school, from coaches. Eventually you’ll discover that most rules are stupid. They’re motivated by fear, paternalism, and stupidity and used to control the timid and the stupid. You’ll lay claim to your life only as soon as you stop letting other people’s rules tell run it.

  • Subjecttochange.com

    The word you want there is older, as in old, older, oldest.