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Health and Safety: A Resident Assistant's Perspective

By Ada Castro
On September 30, 2016

Photo by: Ashley Alonzo

Students in Martin Hall failed to follow simple instructions. What they might call “spotless rooms” actually translates to unmade beds with clothes all over them, dirty clothes underneath, unwashed dishes and grimy sinks. The dorms are in fact home away from home, and just like your parents, we expect you to not live filthily.

A 2011 poll by the National Sleep Foundation reports that 71 percent of adults make their beds every morning. The foundation also argues that this habit increases a healthy lifestyle choice. Now it doesn’t seem as senseless for the Residence Life Office to ask students to do so, right? Also, a basic need is to have a bed, not to have it unmade.

“In the real world,” as I call it too, people do not excuse themselves with work, children and school to live on their dirt for months: You just have to get it done! The employees’ judgement does not need revision; the students’ comments do, however. As a resident assistant, I have had to clean other people’s filth at the end of the semester because they did not follow the standards that we kindly asked for at the beginning of the year. So now the office decided to make sure students understand our expectations for their own good.

“We want our first health and safety to be a learning experience. We typically look for a lot of things that might not be visible to the naked eye; we touch surfaces, check toilets and its surroundings,” says Jillian Stoumbaugh, Bennett Hall Resident Director. “We do this to make sure we don’t have to go back and re-teach everyone the standards in the middle of the year because the last thing we want to do is give them a list of fines when checkout time arrives.”

Moreover, in ‘the real world” when you don’t know something, you go find it and ask for it. If students fail to address their concerns about expectations, that is on them. They can visit the Student Affairs Office located in the second floor of the admin building anytime and ask the resident directors and other graduate assistants about anything health and safety related. Also, the expectations are in the student handbook located in the Ottawa University portal, which everybody knows upon their arrival to Ottawa University.

Nonetheless, if students ever feel like their rooms were wrongly fined, “They can send a professional email and dispute the charges,” Stoumbaugh says.

Students argue that “no one wants to live in a dirty hall,” but if we are not this strict from the beginning, students take advantage of our kindness. One dirty sink might not contribute to the dirtiness of the entire building. But it is not just one; it is one in every room!

Finally, let’s clear something up: This is not a home of your own. This is in fact an institution, one that works incredibly hard to make you feel like you’re at home. So what about next time you clean your room up to standards? Sounds like a great idea to me!


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