Resident Assistants Disbanded Due to COVID-19 Campus Closure


Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

Nicolette Noce, Campus Editor

On Sept. 4, resident assistants were informed that John Carroll University would not be returning to in-person learning this fall. RAs were notified in the same way as the rest of the student body: through an email sent out by President Michael Johnson. 

 Following that initial email,  Senior Director of Residence Life Lisa Brown Cornelius reached out to the RAs directly with a follow up email. Cornelius informed them that they were permitted to stay on campus until Sept 12, and then were required to move out of the residence halls and return home to their permanent addresses.

 Cornelius explained, “We worked with and supported any RA who may have had challenges in meeting the deadline for moving out.”

 Raymond Flannery, class of 2022 and first-time RA for Millor Hall, spent one week on campus before in-person classes were scheduled to resume. During this time, he was training for the important role. 

 While RAs were under the impression that school would be starting as planned, Flannery admitted, “They braced us for this outcome … but it was never presented as more likely than the alternative.” The possibility of a remote learning semester was always a possibility, but many were hopeful to be back in-person.

 “Before the RAs returned to campus for training prior to the start of classes, the Office of Residence Life shared with them that even though we were returning for training, there was a possibility they would need to return to their permanent addresses if the decision was made to remain fully online for the fall semester,” Cornelius said.

 Prior to the RAs’ arrival on campus for training, a virtual meeting was held to give them the opportunity to ask questions and address concerns. 

 “The doubt I had about returning diminished a lot when I returned to campus and saw all the protocols they were implementing,” Flannery said. 

 Flannery explained that RAs are able to live on campus at a highly reduced rate as compensation for their work, which involves ensuring residents’ safety and building community. 

 RA training includes depression awareness, suicide prevention, mediation and campus safety protocols. Despite COVID-19 being an obvious concern for those living in close quarters, RAs were not being specifically trained on COVID-19 information. 

 While typical RA training is the  last two weeks of summer, the protocol was different this year due to COVID-19. Flannery explained that much of the training was done in small groups and over virtual meetings that took place almost every morning. The RAs in training gathered only twice for larger group meetings over the course of the training week and social distancing was practiced. 

 Flannery explained that RAs do not receive financial compensation for training week because training is “part of the job and meals are complimentary.”

 Although Flannery expressed disappointment at the announcement of a virtual semester,he said,, “I cannot fault John Carroll for making the call” and expressed gratitude for being able to spend a short amount of time on campus.