Last Saturday, August 29, was Colgate’s official move-in day for upperclassman; however, of the 2,405 students living on campus this semester, including first-years, 1,319 students were already back on campus before Saturday. The large number of students arriving early, some with permission and others without, represents a growing concern among the members of Residential Life (ResLife) staff about the early arrival process.
“Each year in this period there have been growing concerns about health and safety,” Director of Residential Life Dean Jennifer Adams said. “As soon as we allowed alcohol this weekend, medical transports and unregistered parties increased and we don’t want that without staff who can handle it.”
This year, students who received permission to return to campus early were required to sign a contract of “expectations associated with early arrival permission.” Early arrival students were not allowed to let non-approved students move in early, host large group gatherings and parties and no student–regardless of age–was permitted to possess or consume alcohol during the early arrival period. Violation of the rules could lead to a loss of early arrival privileges, both this fall and in the future.
“When I read [the early arrival contract] at first, I thought that when Colgate does something like this it’s for liability reasons,” senior Mike Carini said. “Here’s my problem with it–‘large parties’ is incredibly vague–does that mean you can’t host a party or you can’t attend a party? I understand the no drinking, although I think it goes against the realities of Colgate.”
On Saturday, August 22, several ResLife faculty members, as well as a Campus Safety officer, broke up a group of students who had gathered in the basement of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. In attendance were four students who were part of the ResLife staff, either as Residential Advisors (RAs) or Community Coordinators (CCs). These four students, including Carini, were either fired from their position on ResLife or were put on probation.
“Nowhere in [the early arrival contract] does it say that as a CC I could lose my job,” Carini, who was fired from his position as Community Coordinator at the townhouses, said. “The fact that I lost my job off the bat is a problem. Nowhere in my contract does it say this and I had no formal training as a CC to know not to be there. I mean, I wasn’t drinking, I just stopped by to say hi to some friends.”
Adams, who would not comment on ResLife personnel issues, did say that in general, the policy for RAs regarding alcohol is that “they must be legal and that they must not be in the presence of something that is illegal.”
The other CC who was fired could not be reached for an interview; however, Carini feels that the two of them received an unfair punishment.
“They are trying to fire me for ‘conduct that is inappropriate,’ but I wasn’t drinking,” Carini said. “I told [Adams] that she knew that other CCs were drinking and she said, ‘You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ So, I just feel like I’m being sacrificed to save image.”
Carini said that he does not know what punishment was given to the non-ResLife staff who were at the party and in violation of the early arrival contract. According to Adams, the University is going to look into revising the current early arrival policy in an attempt to decrease the number of students on campus before the official move-in date.