Resident Assistants are a key fixture of the Bridgewater State University resident community. They are our friends and the people who we turn to when we need help in this place that we call home. The people that we should feel safe with.
However, according to a recent report by a student made to The Comment, residents living within Crimson Residence Hall have made several attempts to report alleged sexual harassment by one of their RA’s over the past several months. According to this source and other students, the response by ResLife has been unsatisfactory.
We at The Comment have verified our sources as credible. We have decided to keep them anonymous due to the sensitive content of the article.
According to our source, students communicated to other RA’s that they were feeling uncomfortable with the conduct of this RA in question. Many of the complaints according to our source, were about this RA looking down the residents’ shirts during conversations, knocking on doors with quiet hours complaints (even though it was not quite hours), and asking to do room checks at 10:30 and 11:30 at night without a reasonable cause.
According to the source, “Originally [the RA’s] were told not to do Title IX forms because the first time it happened, they were told that it technically didn’t fall under harassment because it was the first time, and there had to be a pattern.”
At this point, they filed a “communication form” to the Resident Director based on ResLife standards.
The protocol for sexual assault accusations at BSU is that all allegations are handled by the Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office, which deals with sexual assault, sexual violence, and other forms of gender violence and discrimination. “As time went on, it was becoming a pattern—it was already a pattern, just there was no paper trail,” our source added.
It was only during an altercation with a different RA, according to our source, that issues were finally addressed, and the RA in question was offered three options;
Stay in the building, quit being an RA, or leave Crimson Hall and be placed in another building.
During a brief interview with Director of Residence Life and Housing Justin McCauley in which he was asked about the allegations, he repeated, “I can’t speak of personnel files or anything in terms of cases that may or may not have been submitted to Equal Opportunity Title IX,” and “I cannot speak on the individual.”
When asked if he believed a different course of action should have been taken, McCauley evaded the question by explaining how an investigation is processed.
At a Crimson staff meeting where the conduct of the RA in question was being discussed, our source said, “Justin was just saying the same thing over and over again in different ways… He was trying to diminish everything that was said while they were trying to make their voices heard.”
After this RA meeting, it was revealed that the RA in question had been removed from Crimson Hall and placed in Scott Hall. This has been leaving Crimson RA’s baffled as to how this could have happened, considering the number of residents who have stepped forward with their experiences according to our source.
“[RA’s] whole job is to protect. They’re not, like, f****** police officers, but their job is to be there for residents who need them,” our source explained.
After the RA moved to Scott Hall, Title IX was brought in. It was decided that all reports, including the ones from last semester, should be processed. According to our source, these reports should have been handled earlier through the Title IX office.
“[The RA’s] are rushing to put in all these Title IX forms and going to meetings and advocating for the residents,” our source said.
According to our source, several RA’s talked to Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Joe Oravecz and Assistant Dean of Students Elizabeth Ching-Bush with concerns over these issues, and allegedly, they shut down the RA’s with varying answers such as “they shouldn’t protest, they shouldn’t start a petition, they shouldn’t go to the press about this, it’s childish, it’s high school-ish.” Note that due to scheduling conflicts, Elizabeth Ching-Bush was unable to comment.
“To put [this RA] in with such a vulnerable population is insane,” our source said. “Especially because those are freshman, EXCEL students [in Scott]. This is their first time living on campus, … their first year in college, and to have them as an RA [in the building] could ruin everything for them.”