Written by: Questen Inghram
A scheduled meeting between RAs and university administration on Thursday, April 13 featured President Sabah Randhawa and Leonard Jones, director of University Residences. Missing, were any RAs.
Instead, four members of the Associated Students Board of Directors presented a letter signed by 62 current and former RAs saying they would not be attending the meeting. The letter instead invited university administrators to a forum that will be hosted by the RAs on Monday, April 17.
Wayne Rocque, vice president of student life, handed the letter to President Randhawa.
“The [AS] Board is here on behalf of the RAs; the RAs have made a decision not to attend,” Rocque said to Randhawa.
Randhawa did not say whether he would attend the forum on Monday.
“I think the important thing is to have a dialogue, whatever form it happens to be,” Randhawa said to those present. “Truly the biggest concern to me is the breakdown in communication.”
In an email response to concerns raised by resident advisers, Jones had invited all RAs to attend a meeting of the RA Advisory Committee on Thursday, April 13.
The letter from RAs questioned the effectiveness of the meeting.
“We have exhausted all resources provided to us by Residence Life, as well as this university,” the letter said. “We also found the last RA Advisory Committee to be ineffective and containing personal anecdotes that did not provide direct answers to our questions.”
The meeting started later than the scheduled time of 7 p.m., as university administrators were waiting for more people. The meeting lasted less than 15 minutes, and everyone had left by 7:30 p.m.
As well as Randhawa and Jones, Eileen Coughlin, vice president of Enrollment and Student Services, and Paul Cocke, director of Communications and Marketing, were present.
However, not even the members of the advisory committee attended the meeting.
Coughlin told those present that the meeting was pre-scheduled and not a statement about the RAs’ upcoming forum.
“I think the message here tonight, and I want to make clear for the Associated Students [members present], that this was not a reflection of your meeting, but rather that [Jones] already had a meeting set up,” Coughlin said.
Jones will attend the RAs’ open forum on Monday if it’s the next available time to meet, he said.
“I’m going to meet with the president and discuss what the options are next,” Jones said, in an interview after the meeting. “I totally agree that a direct dialogue is the best way to get this moving, so if it’s not tonight, it can be another night.”
The letter was signed by 55 current and 7 former RAs. There are 72 RAs currently employed by Western, according to the Seattle Times.
The RAs also said they believed dialogue must be transparent and include more than just Jones and the RAs. They wanted other university residences employees, particularly assistant directors and residence directors, as well as members of the public, to be present.
“From our observation, it is a longstanding tradition of yours to isolate your employees without their supervisors or the public present,” the letter said. “As a result the information is funneled past essential members of your staff and no pressure is put on the department for follow up.”
The RAs are hosting an open forum at 7 p.m. Monday, April 17 in Arntzen Hall 100. They have invited Jones, as well as President Randhawa and other members of Western’s administration.
As of April 13, 121 people on Facebook had said they were going to the RAs’ forum.