When I was still a high school senior coming home to a daily pile of admissions mailings, I noticed a specific phrase stressed consistently in UNC’s branding: the First-Year Experience.
Now, I know that the “First-Year Experience” was always just a marketing point meant to attract students. However, at the time, the principle behind this appeared genuine, both within the countless admissions publications I was so thoughtfully sent and the actual campus environment I stepped into when I arrived. That was before UNC Housing fired the one person most critical to my First-Year Experience and tried to lie to me about it.
I live in Ehringhaus Residence Hall. My resident advisor was one of the seven forced to resign last semester. I’m starting this semester with a new RA who has to step into a residence floor and act like we don’t know why he’s here. This is nothing against the new RAs, but what happened last semester was wrong, and I can’t sit through another floor meeting pretending like it’s August and this is OK.
Whether you think the RAs should have been fired or not, the issue is with how the process was carried out. The relationship between an RA and their residents is supposed to be one founded upon trust and openness --- this is something that was stressed to me several times in my first weeks here. So then why did UNC Housing tell my RA to lie to me about the possibility of him being forced to resign? If UNC Housing legitimately cared one iota about anyone on my floor’s “First-Year Experience,” why did a petition with over 300 signatures not turn a single head? Why were inaccurate notes from the community director enough to dismiss my RAs character when countless student testimonies argued otherwise? Why was I only made aware of this by the DTH and not by anyone in the administration who thought to stop and tell the residents what was going on?
I look at that and I don’t see a University that cares about my First-Year Experience. I did write a student testimony on my RA’s character (everyone in my suite did), but we had to figure that out ourselves because no one involved in litigating the infraction ever asked for a resident’s opinion.