Online exclusive: Communication breakdown

Last year, the Ondine Housing complex was host to a plethora of drug-related offences, including possession and selling of drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA.

Last year, the Ondine Housing complex was host to a plethora of drug-related offences, including possession and selling of drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA. Some of these offenses have been the acts of residents, while others are a result of homeless people entering the building. Other crimes committed in the complex included assault, trespassing and stalking. As a resident in the Ondine building, I find this a bit disconcerting.

The problem stems from is a major breakdown in communication between students and resident assistants. There is no room for a discourse between students and RAs. RAs are often perceived as scary authority figures, and many students don’t feel they can identify with them. Students know quickly who on the floor does or deals drugs, yet they do not report these potentially dangerous situations to campus authorities.

Part of this mentality is that students don’t want to seem like a “tattle tale” or a “rat.” But at a certain point, it becomes an issue of the safety of those in the dorms. While many might not have a problem with a marijuana user, most students would probably be concerned when they found out they had a serious and violent drug addict in their midst. So, a certain level of responsibility falls on residents to report suspicious and dangerous behavior.

“There is only so much we can do,” said Ondine Resident Assistant Deenae Murphy. RAs are the enforcers, but have limited power in dealing with behavior.

Resident assistants are people who are hired to look out for the well being of students. They have attended classes and have gone through a rigorous selection process. The Portland State website states that they are in charge of “providing resources and assistance that will make each residence hall community a place that supports and enhances all aspects of student life.”

RAs are trained in a three-week long seminar. They go through a variety of emergency situations and are taught how to handle drunken students, drugs and even situations such as suicide. Murphy has expressed to her superiors that more of the training should be hands on, and that some RAs in training just don’t think that these kinds of situations will ever happen. Unfortunately, they do.

By choosing to live as a resident, you are obliged to comply with the rules of the facility, and are under the supervision of a Resident Assistant. This means that there are no loud noises after a specific time, drugs are prohibited, and alcohol is not allowed on specified floors with residents who are under the age of 21. But, a side-effect of the high number of college students in campus housing is that there are a lot of noises, with drugs and alcohol on all floors.

 Being no stranger to college shenanigans, as well as a liberal hippie communist, I don’t find a problem with someone drinking or indulging in substances on my floor. If done correctly, it doesn’t cause a problem to other residents. But, there is a line between everyday college behavior and potentially dangerous situations.

What needs to change is the relationship between students and resident assistants. By becoming more approachable, an RA can become a source of positive change in resident housing. Taking the time to meet your residents can create a more comfortable living situation for everyone. You don’t have to be best bros, but you’ve got to be able to talk to one another. Students can improve the situation by being aware of their surroundings and by reporting dangerous behaviors to campus authorities.

Drunks and druggies shouldn’t be allowed to ruin your living environment, so if you have a problem, say something. With what you’re paying for the dorms, you should try to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.