By ISABEL FAUST
Recently, Resident Assistants at the University of Mary Washington have become reluctant to speak with student writers when it comes to the subject of policies and procedures. RAs have been told that they cannot speak directly with The Blue & Gray Press and the reasons why are unclear.
Emily Ainsworth, a junior communication and digital studies major, experienced difficulty when talking to her RA about the recent shot glass ban that was lifted earlier in the semester. Ainsworth attempted several times to talk with different RAs and was told to speak with one of the directors of ResLife. However, the director then told Ainsworth to talk with the media director of ResLife stating, “RAs are not allowed to talk to The Blue & Gray Press.”
Ainsworth just wanted to find out what the new policy on shot glasses was all about so she decided to talk to her friend’s roommate, who she knew was an Resident Assistant. At first, the RA responded in an email saying she would be happy to answer Ainsworth’s questions, however, in her email she CCed one of the directors of Res Life.
The director of Res Life then responded to Ainsworth’s email saying RAs are not allowed to talk with student writers for the BGP and that instead, Ainsworth would need to get in contact with the media director of Res Life. Ainsworth tried to get in contact with the media director several times, by email, phone and in person, but Emily never received a response.
Ainsworth then tried to get in contact with the media director by emailing her, calling her and asking to see her in person, but there was no response. “It was very frustrating, it is a school newspaper, we aren’t professional journalists, but we still need to report the truth and [I needed] information from the RAs to back up my story,” Ainsworth said.
Ainsworth added, “I think [RAs] are afraid to give me information because one of the RAs got in trouble for releasing something to The Blue & Gray Press, sonow they are extra cautious.”
Many RAs want to talk to students but they end up responding with, “I was told by my boss that I cannot comment on the policy at all.” The most troubling part about this resistance towards talking with student writers, according to Ainsworth, is that the shot glass policy has now become taboo.
An RA said, “Anyone in ResLife is always happy to answer your questions, I can give you one of their emails.” However, when Ainsworth tried to get in contact with someone in ResLife who would talk with her, there was no response.
This challenge of trying to communicate with RAs has turned into a sort of round-robin game for students. RAs are supposed to be reliable sources of contact for students at all times whether or not they are student writers. Even after being given the option of anonymity, RAs were still afraid to give their comments. Many of the RAs seemed to want to help and regretted not being able to help but felt they would get in trouble if they disclosed anything to The Blue & Gray Press.