Having the job of a Resident Assistant is a crucial part of Northwestern. There are only a handful of students on campus that are called to the RA position. They have the important job of bringing students together and creating a community and culture where people are willing to hang out with one another. RAs are there for students if they need a trusted friend to talk to. There are many necessary responsibilities that an RA has to deal with on campus. However, I wish to talk about RAs’ responsibilities with alcohol off campus.
Resident Assistants’ responsibilities concerning alcohol off campus are an abuse of power. Frankly, anything that happens off campus should not be the responsibility of the RA. Thus, if an RA catches an underage student drinking alcohol off campus or abusing a handbook policy off the campus of NW, I do not believe it should be the RA’s responsibility to give that student a contract.
I am by no means an advocate for underage drinking. No person should drink alcohol until they are 21 years of age – that is the law. However, it is not my decision to make for them. If a student wants to do things when they are underage such as drinking or smoking, that is their personal choice. We are all smart enough to make decisions for ourselves, and we know the repercussions if we get caught.
Saying this, the underage student that decides to drink off campus should not be punished because it was done off campus. Obviously, if the student gets caught by a police officer who busts a party, it will be because of other reasons out of an RA’s control. The Resident Assistant, however, should concern themselves with the matters on the campus of NW. If a student decides to do anything that violates the student handbook and gets caught, they should get a contract because that is the policy of this institution. I have no problem with students getting contracts or punishments for their inappropriate actions. Off-campus, though, it should not be the RA’s job.
Here is a scenario: a 20-year-old is on the beach in Florida with a drink in their hand. At just that moment, a RA from NW happens to see them. The student on the beach is told that the RA will have to report this to their RD. Another scenario goes like this: a RA is at a Morningside football game and sees a freshman take a drink of alcohol. Now, they are supposed to report the incident, even though the RA was simply trying to watch our National Champion football team. I do not think this is right.
Moreover, I believe that since RAs’ are required to concern themselves with minors drinking off campus, that prevents them from being able to have quality time at different school functions and may hinder the relationships they are trying to build. Colleges are a breeding ground for alcohol. That is a fact. It is inevitable. The power RAs have is too great when it concerns anything that is off campus. My general point here is that RAs should not have the responsibility to report any handbook violation that happens off campus.