Pima residents upset over dismissal of RAs

By Devin Walker
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Pima Residence Hall director and the hall's entire resident assistant staff were forced from their posts recently after the group drank alcohol during a retreat over winter break, according to students in the hall.

Officials in Residence Life wouldn't comment on why the entire hall's staff was dismissed, but several students within the hall said that during a staff retreat in Flagstaff, the director and five RAs violated the UA's Code of Conduct by allowing some of the RAs - who were under 21 at the time - to drink.

After learning of the violations, Residence Life officials told the hall's then-director, Mel Engel, and former RAs Jason Moore, Chris Allison, Amy Delozier, Elyse Paluscio and Sylvia Quevedo they could resign from the hall or be fired, said Ilan Fehler, a Pima Hall resident.

To fill the vacancies, a new staff has been brought in from Residence Life staff around campus, according to an e-mail sent to Pima residents from Ed Gilhool, Assistant Director for Residential Education.

Gilhool's e-mail also said that Engel had "accepted another position on campus and will be ending her duties as Pima (Hall director) effective Jan. 25."

Gilhool declined to comment on the situation in an interview and referred the Arizona Daily Wildcat to Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life.

"The old hall director resigned her position and has taken up a new job," Van Arsdel said. "My understanding is that the other staff members, the RAs, have all resigned and moved on as well."

Van Arsdel wouldn't comment further on the matter.

RAs Moore, a political science senior, Allison, a political science junior, Delozier, a biology sophomore, Paluscio, a microbiology senior, Quevedo, a nursing senior, and former Hall Director Engel also wouldn't comment.

"When we came back from break our old hall RA let us know they were fired-slash- resigned," said Ursulline Okonkwo, a pre-pharmacy freshman. "She told us the story that they had been drinking while at the retreat and the hall director turned them in."

Fehler said the transition from old staff members to new ones has been rocky and there have already been some confrontations between residents and the new staff.

In response to the new RAs' arrival, some upset students filled hundreds of water balloons and popped them, causing minor flooding of the hall, Fehler said.

Stephanie Milner was named hall director for Pima Hall after Engel resigned, and five new RAs have been assigned to the hall. Milner and the new RAs would not comment on the matter.

"A lot of us are concerned with how the new RAs will take care of the students and hall," Okonkwo said. "Now that we have new staff, it's kind of like we're back at square one."

Fehler said he wants the old RAs to come back because the RA-resident relationships were important to the residents.

"The old RAs used to be our friends," Fehler said. "Now it's like we have to start all over again halfway through the year."

Pima residents had their first hall meeting of the semester Sunday and had the chance to meet the new RAs during an ice cream social, but some residents, like Fehler, are not ready to give up on the old RAs.

"The hall doesn't have the same connection with our new RAs and staff." Fehler said. "We had such a great connection with our old RA."