College dorm life is unlike any other living situation a person will have. For most students, it's their first time living away from home, and they're jammed into a building filled with other young misfits eager to experience the real world by, let's face it, getting really drunk and making questionable decisions. But it's not entirely without parental finger-wagging.
Serving as stand-ins for adults, the resident assistants, or RAs (sometimes known as dons, advisors, or mentors), are older students employed to help freshmen survive their transition to "adulthood." Though they're really not much older or wiser than their so called mentees, they have to be responsible, and sober, for all the shit that goes down on the job. So I talked to some past RAs about their most awkward moments dealing with drunk, impressionable students.
Adrian*, Western University, London, Ontario
Throughout the year, one of our responsibilities is to clean up puke. It's kind of one of the unique responsibilities as a Western RA. One puke story in particular that was really nasty was toward the end of last year. I think it must have been around St. Patrick's Day. There were a couple of us on duty, and we were navigating the halls when we heard that one of the bathrooms had been absolutely destroyed. So we went up there to check what had happened. Someone had thrown up so much that it covered all three stalls in the men's bathroom. Every one of my senses was engaged in that moment. It smelled horrible. There was puke in the toilet, on the toilet, splattered all over the walls and all over the floors of the three stalls. And it kind of looked like diarrhea, so we were questioning if it was vomit or poop. I think it was vomit. Normally when we see puke we have to get spill kits to clean it up, but at this point, there was so much. We didn't even know where to start, so we just ended up taping up the bathroom door and calling it a night.
James*, Ryerson University, Toronto
I had an interesting semester as an RA. One night, a student I didn't know was at a party on my floor, so I tried to corral them out in the hallway. I never met this woman before, and when I went out to clear the hallway, there were a bunch of my students there and her. She just locked eyes with me and without saying a word, stormed across the hall, pressed me up against the wall, and basically held me there. Now I'm not exactly a large man by definition, but she had like 6 inches on me—if this were a bocce match, she would have been the odds on favorite by a margin. That and the fact that I wanted to keep my job meant I spent half an hour dodging kisses and trying to explain why I was not allowed to have sex with this woman because I would lose my job. Surrounded by 20 of my students who were just laughing their asses off.
Caitlyn*, Ryerson University, Toronto
During RA training, the supervisors encourage you to keep boundaries between you and the students. You're not really supposed to reveal a ton of personal information about yourself. But one night, I went into our communal lounge area, and my students were in there playing Never Have I Ever. They weren't drinking—they were sort of just playing around. And so, I was like, whatever, I'll just play a couple rounds, even though I knew I probably shouldn't—you never know what kind of sensitive information could be revealed. But at the same time, I kind of felt good being there because if something problematic came up, I could kind of mediate the situation.
So one person said "never have I ever cried during sex," and my hand shot up, [but] no one else had their hand up. Keep in mind, I'm like 22 at the time, and these are 17- or 18-year-olds. I'm looking around, and no one else had their hand up. Everyone just immediately started dying of laughter.
Jason*, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario
So my first year as an RA, halfway through the year, a girl arrived who was only about 16 or 17, like really young. One day, her roommate came to me saying something was wrong, and she didn't know what was going on with her. And this girl didn't really trust a lot of people other than me because I was the person in charge. So I had a one-on-one with her in one of the offices and asked her what was going on. She was like, "I'm bleeding, and I don't really know why." Initially I thought she hurt herself, and I asked where she was bleeding from. She said, "From down there." I was like, "OK!"
So she had gotten her period for the first time. Basically, I had to explain to this girl what was happening and teach her what it meant to have her period. It was extremely awkward for me. She didn't want to talk to anybody else except for me, so I was like great, now I have to learn all about the reproductive system very quickly. I mean, I knew enough to say, "Hey, this is what's happening," but she started to ask more specific questions, so I went over to the computer on this random website to answer them.
Henry*, Ryerson University, Toronto
Probably my worst but also favorite night as an RA was when one of my student's boyfriend was super drunk in the lobby of the residence, and she really needed support. She was like, "I need help signing him in, but I'm literally carrying him right now." So, being the RA on call, I went down to check up on him. I then had to carry this guy upstairs and help her get him into her room. But then, as we were tucking him in, we got a phone call that there was a flood in the building.
The flood happened on the tenth floor and had gone all the way down to the sixth floor. We had to go into all the rooms and check them, like, so many crazy things were happening, and we couldn't find a mop anywhere. Plus a lot of people had gone home because it was a long weekend, so we had to get in contact with people who were away to tell them they might have some room damage because someone left their sink on. The flood just, like, didn't stop. One person had to deal with the drunk people and the other had to stop this flood from reaching the other floors.
Meghan*, Western University, London, Ontario
Most of the time, weird stories start when someone's drunk. I had one student last year who was already really high energy, but when he drank, he would become even more high energy. That night, he just started running around the residence until he finally collapsed, and I found him in a little alcove area on a bench by himself. I decided it was time for him to go to bed, so I walked him back to his room. And he wears contacts, so he was really scared to sleep with his contacts in, understandably. I don't wear contacts, but I was just like, I'll generally try and help you out here. So I had to walk him through how to take his contacts out. I don't know how long it would normally take him, I would guess probably 30 seconds max, but it took him 20 minutes to take his contacts out because he was just falling over the sink, and I had to hold him up while directing him. Then he went to bed, and I had to tuck him in too because that's what his mom did.
Andre*, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
One night as I was doing my last bit of rounds at about two in the morning, I heard a bunch of students partying in a room, so I went to tell them to shut it down for the night. I knocked on the door, and somebody said ,"Come in." So I opened the door, and there were probably like eight people in the room casually drinking. But there was one girl laying across the bed puking into the garbage can just as I walked in the room. Everyone was going "Oh gross!" so I told them to shut it down, and the girl finished puking, so she started sitting up on the bed.
I asked if she was OK, and she said she was fine, brushed her hair back, and I guess when she laid down across the bed to puke, her entire top and bra slipped down. So when she sat up, everything was just hanging out. I didn't really draw attention to it, but I wanted to get her to pull her top back up. I was pulling at my own shirt and was like, "Are you sure you're OK?" And she was totally oblivious; she didn't really know what was going on. The guys in the room started giggling, and I was trying to get her to subtly do it. Finally her one friend looked up from her phone and realized what was going on and dove across the bed to cover her up and helped her get her top back on. Then she got her back to her room.
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