Ethan Bachand ‘22
Chief News Editor
Last Friday afternoon, I logged out of my last Zoom class with a sigh of relief. After four hours of class on that single day, I thought I finally made it to the finish line for the week. Despite being exhausted from being on my computer, I thought it would be a good idea to check my email one last time before powering down for the weekend. Dropped between the fifty emails about random events occurring next week, one message stuck out as unusual.
Someone I knew from freshman year sent an email with the subject line “Welcome Back.” Since the email came from out of the blue, I decided to click on it. The message consisted of only a few sentences, but it took me multiple reads to believe what my eyes were processing.
As it turns out, the College of the Holy Cross has instituted virtual resident assistants (RAs) for this semester. My new virtual RA sent me a Zoom link for a meeting scheduled this week, as well as informing us that we will be creating community guidelines.
The College is in a tough position right now where they want to keep their mission and sense of community alive despite the people that occupy Mount St. James being dispersed far away from Worcester. Yet, there are effective and ineffective ways to achieve this objective. The creation of virtual RAs belongs in the second category. This program not only pushes an unwelcome part of campus life into our own homes, but also adds stress for students in an already difficult situation.
Even before considering the issues behind virtual RAs, it is important to note the role students currently connote with RAs. Although they are meant to foster a sense of community with dorm residents, activities involving RAs are typically viewed as a hassle. Every person who has lived at 1 College Street can recount a drawn-out hallway meeting consisting of people who wanted to be anywhere else. Some events, especially ones that promise free food, can bring students together for a few seconds, but struggle to form a true sense of community. While some students do take full advantage of the RA program and find someone on campus they can confide in, a majority of residents will have minimal interaction with their RA.
Now, students who are sitting at home are expected to interact with this person who they would have avoided anyway? Let alone with no commitment, seeing as a majority of students are not actual residents. All this does is put one more Zoom call on a remote student’s plate, one who probably has 10 or more hours of Zoom calls they are already committed to. That is not even counting any other clubs or activities they have, plus homework.
I will concede the situation is different for first year students, who with no prior time on campus could benefit from a guiding voice and a change to meet other people in their class. However, this should not be the priority of the College of Holy Cross. Instead, every resource available should be poured into ensuring our return to the dorms we love in January. Once that happens, I am sure that every student on campus would be delighted to meet with an RA whenever the College asks because all we want is one thing; to come back home to Worcester.