House Advisers to be Dismissed After Multiple AODs
Under new expectations and guidelines for dismissal for House Advisers being drafted by Residence Life, House Advisers may be put under probation or dismissed for “multiple minor violations of the alcohol and other drug policy and/or egregious use of alcohol that endangers the wellbeing of the individual or others.” A “verbal and/or written warning and/or probation” may be issued for “first-time minor violations of the Alcohol and Other Drug policy.” At an open meeting between Residence Life and students on Tuesday, Britt Hoover, Resident Director for Old Dorm Block and Anna Mann, said that the guidelines were being written because House Advisers wanted to know “how that could happen, when [dismissal] could happen.” She added, “There’s going to be a lot of context to every situation, and not every situation is going to be considered the same based on the impact it’s had.” Both Hoover and Drew White, Resident Director for The Grove, Farm House, Garden House, and Canyon House, emphasized that the guidelines are intended to allow Residence Life a certain degree of flexibility.
Other incidents that “may result in probation and/or dismissal” enumerated in the draft include “gross misconduct which jeopardizes (or has the potential to jeopardize) the safety of the individual, others and/or the greater community”; “sexual misconduct or harassment (which may include, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which creates a hostile environment)”; and “intentional or malicious theft, destruction, damage or defacing of college or personal property.” House Advisers may also be placed on probation or dismissed if they are removed from housing or campus “as a result of a Judicial Board case or other administrative disciplinary procedure,” or dismissed after “repeated failure to fulfill job expectations and responsibilities after documentation and probation.”
Both White and Hoover emphasized that confidentiality would be respected as much as possible with regards to AOD and that Residence Life works on a strictly “need to know” basis. Student records are only accessed when they pertinent to the situation at hand.
“If a twenty-year-old HA gets an AOD for drinking a beer in the Library on a Friday night, why should that necessarily jeopardize their position as an HA?” one student asked. “It may or may not, based on the information we receive,” Hoover said. “We’re going to look at that in context. Were they being disruptive? Were they being difficult with the CSO?” She continued, “It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be an extreme response. It doesn’t mean it’s going to jeopardize your future employment. But maybe you make a huge scene out of yourself, and you might get sick, and you might need to be transported to the Hospital. Those things do matter.”
“Some of this piece also comes back to trusting us,” said White. “There’s a process in which we’re still initiating the conversation whether you’re an HA or not.” He added, “There’s a huge part of this that goes back to trusting your supervisor and being able to know that they have that relationship with you, and that we are not just making decisions hastily or on the fly, but that we’re having a dialogue about it, that we’re talking about it.”
“It is always hard for us to make decisions that involve the potential of dismissal. We don’t take those lightly. Fortunately they’re very rare. I think the verbal or written warning is what we largely deal with,” said Hoover. “Probation is very situational, like everything else.” Probation might be a response to anything from missing multiple area group meetings to disruptive or harassing behavior and may prevent rehiring or affect House Adviser candidacy for the next year.
Situations of sexual assault may warrant an immediate response. “If there’s an allegation of [sexual] assault, and we’re waiting a week or two for JBoard to meet, you might be removed from your community temporarily, until that decision was made,” said Hoover.
Concerns were raised about House Advisers being dismissed despite the Medical Amnesty policy. “Imagine a situation where we have an HA who has overdosed on heroine, and their community knows,” said Hoover. “If we said you get medical amnesty in the same way that you get it from the Dean’s perspective, we cannot remove you from the community, and it is really hard and difficult for me to think about an HA who is struggling in that way and has affected their community in that way to remain in that position because of that policy.”
Hoover said she hoped that HAs would not be reluctant to seek help for fear of losing their position. “I get that there are situations where it puts fellow HAs in an uncomfortable position of having to call and say, ‘I know that by making this call, potentially, my friend here is going to lose their job, their ten thousand dollar job that helps them stay at Reed.’ That is absolutely a hard decision. Again, it does not mean automatic dismissal. But if someone is absolutely in a health jeopardy situation, what’s the honorable thing to do, what’s the right thing to do?”
Hoover continued, “I feel very conflicted, but I also don’t want the community to be bound by this; I don’t want the community to suffer because of that loophole.” Residence Life wanted to create written guidelines without limiting its responses, said Hoover. “We wanted the language to be loose enough that we have the ability to respond when it’s absolutely important and needed, and that we also have your trust to know that, if it’s a Medical Amnesty for a situation that didn’t create a large compromise of an individual in the community of Res Life or Reed College, you’re looking at probation or an educational conversation.”
Res Life does not “want to set up a policy that discourages you all from seeking medical help,” said Hoover. “I say this, and I know that for some people this is harder than for others; I hope that you would prioritize your health and safety over this job. It’s a great job, and it’s a great financial aid package for sure. But I think in most cases it shouldn’t be, ‘This will be an automatic dismissal.’ If it is a dismissal situation then it’s actually a pretty bad situation.”