if you were an RA in college, now is your time to spill

Were you an RA in college and do you have stories? We want to hear them.

On last week’s post about misusing power for good, one commenter contributed this:

Junior year in college, I befriended our RA. There was a room between mine and the RA’s, and two students who liked to “study” to loud music every night (it was loud enough you could hear it at the other end of the building, even on higher and lower floors) and recycled at least a pound of aluminum in the form of empty cheap-beer cans every morning. The dorm also had balconies and a flat roof, which were attractive for socializing and relaxing; many students in the dorm chose it for that very reason.

We had an incident on the roof of the dorm in late September or early October, where the police were called and some drunken students threw debris at them as they approached the dorm. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and no one was harmed by anyone else (one of the students did *attempt* to run through a reinforced plate glass window while trying to evade police pursuit within the building).

As a result, the RAs were issued keys to the balconies and roof, and instructed to lock them late afternoon or early evening, to avoid more trouble. It turns out the key also worked the circuit breaker, and every night afterwards, a few minutes after dusk, the loud students mysteriously began to trip their room’s circuit and lose power for the night.

I have talked in the past about my own stint as the “intern mom” (literally living in a house with the organization’s interns and attempting to provide some semblance of adult presence) … but RAs almost certainly have it worse. If you were (or are!) an RA in college, please tell us in the comments all about your weirdest experiences.

{ 867 comments… read them below }

  1. Melanie Cavill*

    I was never an RA (so I hope I’m not first because I’d be embarrassed to be the first commenter when I’m telling a secondhand story). Fun fact: they were actually referred to as a ‘don’ at my school, as in a mafia don, I guess? – Maybe I went to mafia school and didn’t know it. Anyway, I was in a group with with a don in my first year and we had this project that everyone else in the group had essentially ghosted us on. I ended up handling most of it, but the don agreed to handle the formatting and references (which had to be handled in a very specific, very technical way, on a software neither of us has ever used before). The day before it was due, she had a meeting with the parents of a student in our residence block that went from 11pm to 4am, and then did the work after. I was stunned! And so, so curious what that meeting was about.

    I like to think she’s gotten some sleep since then.

    1. Presea*

      I’ll piggyback off of your thread so that secondhand stories are grouped together. Content warning for menstrual blood.

      There’s an RA out there somewhere who has a story about me knocking on their door to inform them that I had bled profusely all over the common room furniture. At 4am. During finals week. It was the talk of the floor for a couple of days, but only me and my roommate knew who the perpetrator was thankfully. They were a good RA.

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        Another secondhand story: I know someone who’s talked about how he, as an RA a few decades ago, would charge students a case of beer to sneak back into the dorm through his window after lights-out.

        1. Presea*

          That’s definitely a story that has different connotations depending on if this story took place in a location where the drinking age and the dorming age have a lot of overlap or not. Nevertheless, that’s a pretty neat story to look back on.

        2. MBK*

          One time a friend and I were coming in late and he was carrying a poorly disguised six pack of beer under his coat. (Neither of us was of legal drinking age at the time.) Our floor RA – a great guy and good friend to his residents – happened to be working the lobby desk that night. He looked at us with great disappointment and said, “I don’t want to take your beer. You don’t want me to take your beer. But you have to at least make enough of an effort to hide it to give me SOME plausible deniability.”

          He confiscated the beer.

          1. n.m.*

            One of my RA’s sent out an email announcing room inspections with the subject line “Hide yo’ candles, hide yo’ handles” (referring to handles of liquor). it was just such a memorable line.

          2. Sarahhopefully*

            An ex-boyfriend of mine made some good money by renting out the box for his mini-fridge, which conveniently could hold a keg or a couple of big boxes of beer.

      2. quill*

        To further piggyback, after overhearing a friday night party in my women-only dorm, I headed out for a shower saturday morning only to hear the RA say, incredulously “What on EARTH posessed you to try and flush half a pizza?”

        I took my shower much later.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I went to a Catholic university that had separate men’s dorms and women’s dorms, with strict rules about no overnight guests of the opposite gender. One morning around 6 or 7am, someone’s boyfriend who had slept over in her dorm set off the fire alarm trying to make her bacon in the communal kitchen. I wasn’t there but heard lots of stories about several dozen guys jumping out the window to avoid being caught coming out of the building!

          1. La Triviata*

            We had something similar happen. Woman’s dorm, after hours for men to be in (my father once got kicked out of my dorm), one young woman was expecting a rather obnoxious young man to come looking for her. He did, let himself into her room (we mostly didn’t lock rooms), lit a candle and sat down to wait for her and watch it burn. He fell asleep, the candle kept burning and set off the fire alarm. The women evacuated, fire department arrived … and several other men filed rather abashedly out of the dorm. There were reminders about hours when men were allowed in the dorms.

      3. Jax*

        Commenting to say that if this had happened to me, I would not have had the presence of mind/maturity/courage to tell my RA what happened and ask for help. At 18, I would have run away, felt eternal shame when everyone talked about how “gross” someone was to do that, etc.

        Presea, you’re awesome. That’s all. :)

        1. Presea*

          Thank you for the kind words! Thankfully, there weren’t too many people who were making disparaging comments – I think most people were wondering if whoever did the bleeding was dead or not. I really left a horrible crime scene behind that I’m certain even the best custodians in the world couldn’t do much to conceal before the first early-morning gawkers appeared, to the point where I don’t think most people would assume it was a menstrual accident.

      4. Pdweasel*

        When I was in college, I got off work one night and got back to my dorm at like 11 PM. I was thinking about getting a late night snack from the vending machine downstairs, but first I went into the bathroom to wash my face & brush my teeth. I heard someone getting sick in one of the stalls. I was about to knock on the door & see if she was ok when the door opened and a very drunk, very topless woman with marker all over her face emerged. Then the door to the bathroom opened and another, equally drunk woman announced, “Come on! We gotta help the PA clean up where you puked on the stairs!”

        I just brushed my teeth and went to bed.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I believe that ‘don’ comes from ‘dominus’ – Latin for master and used to mean head, or the person in charge. – it used to be commonly used for university tutors / professors, certainly at older English universities, and less commonly for schoolmasters as well..
      I assume that it is the same root for the mafia Don, but in their case rather than coming direct from Latin is from the Latin root, via Italian . (you also have ‘Don’ as a male honorific in Spanish, presumably also from the same root..

      1. Never Nicky*

        Dominie was, until at least the early/mid 20th century, used for schoolmasters (particularly headteachers) in NE Scotland.

      2. Melanie Cavill*

        That’s fascinating! I was just being silly about the mafia connection, but thank you for the info. I feel a little wiser now. :)

      3. Ana Gram*

        Domina was also used as the title for the mother superior in medieval British convents. I love weird little language facts :)

      4. allathian*

        Don is still used as the honorific for fellows and tutors at older collegiate universities in the UK, especially Oxford and Cambridge.

    3. ThatGirl*

      here’s a story of our RA wildly misunderstanding something…

      so the backstory is that my freshman year of college, I pledged a sorority with some friends; we never ended up fully joining thanks to the International Corp shutting our chapter down.

      So my sophomore year my roomie and I were in the bathroom brushing our teeth and complaining and one of us said something to the effect of “I hate International” — in context, referencing the sorority but of course I can TOTALLY SEE how it might be misheard now. And a student from Jordan did hear us, and instead of asking us what the hell we were talking about, reported it to our RA. Which we did NOT know about. Because instead of setting up a meeting or talking to us individually, she set up a “sensitivity training” seminar for our floor. And it wasn’t until weeks later that we found out what had sparked it, and finally got the chance to explain and apologize to the girl who overheard us, and the whole thing was pretty dumb.

      1. Gabby*

        I had an RA who made it her mission to make the entire dorm miserable/ her enemies. She would stake out apartments she heard any peep of noise from at night and use underhanded tactics like physically hiding behind kids as they go into a friends apartment dorm to gain entry and bust them for drinking. Not even parties – just 4 or 5 friend hanging out with some beers. I actually lived in a dorm apartment with her and 4 other girls and we were constantly miserable, she decided to call the cops on me on my birthday when I had ONE friend over and we were chatting in my room. By that time (2 months into the semester) she was already on some sort of probation and wasn’t allowed to confront any students without another RA accompanying her. Already dozens of parents had calling in with complaints of her terrorizing their kids. I knew my rights so I didn’t give her permission to enter my room, but I gave the other RA permission just to mess with her. He saw our cups under my desk and declined to take a sniff, at that point she left to go call the cops. I asked him “so I’m free to go right?” And he said he can’t hold me there against my will so I gathered my friend and things and we walked out, right past the cops in the lobby of the building) to spend the night celebrating my bday at other campuses and I crashed with a friend that night. By the time winter break rolled around everyone who lived in that apartment has transferred to a different dorm to escape her and she was fired as an RA. The whole dorm celebrated that! She was on a complete power trip and thrived off making people miserable.

      2. Gabby*

        I had an RA who made it her mission to make the entire dorm miserable/ her enemies. She would stake out apartments she heard any peep of noise from at night and use underhanded tactics like physically hiding behind kids as they go into a friends apartment dorm to gain entry and bust them for drinking. Not even parties – just 4 or 5 friend hanging out with some beers. I actually lived in a dorm apartment with her and 4 other girls and we were constantly miserable, she decided to call the cops on me on my birthday when I had ONE friend over and we were chatting in my room. By that time (2 months into the semester) she was already on some sort of probation and wasn’t allowed to confront any students without another RA accompanying her. Already dozens of parents had calling in with complaints of her terrorizing their kids. Even the other RAs hated her because she was always calling them at all hours of the day/night to go bust kids for petty stuff. Anyways I knew my rights so I didn’t give her permission to enter my room, but I gave the other RA permission just to mess with her. He saw our cups under my desk and declined to take a sniff, at that point she left to go call the cops. I asked him “so I’m free to go right?” And he said he can’t hold me there against my will so I gathered my friend and things and we walked out, right past the cops in the lobby of the building) to spend the night celebrating my bday at other campuses and I crashed with a friend that night. By the time winter break rolled around everyone who lived in that apartment has transferred to a different dorm to escape her and she was fired as an RA. The whole dorm celebrated that! She was on a complete power trip and thrived off making people miserable.

        1. Rainy*

          Oof, I have a story like that from my one year living in residence, though this guy was an RA on one of the men’s floors who took the no fraternization policy super seriously–so much so that he roamed the women’s halls at all hours of the day and night listening at doors for male voices and then using his passkey to bust into our rooms hoping to catch people having sex.

            1. Rainy*

              He was the hall director’s pet, so his activities were always officially sanctioned. Ugh. I wish I could remember his name…Justin something, I think…so I could look him up and see what kind of sex criminal he became.

          1. Pdweasel*

            Did we go to the same college?? Lol our dorms didn’t have passkeys (and master keys were kept by hall directors, not PA’s, as we called them), but we had a PA from one of the men’s floors who’d do the same thing. You could be watching a movie after intervisitation hours and he’d try to bust you for having a dude over. It was super creepy.

            1. Rainy*

              Oh my gosh, yes! I had a little tv and was watching the NBC Thursday night lineup one time and he burst into our room and rampaged through the closets looking for the boy.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Our RAs were the other extreme…they were Very Against people talking in the hallway or with doors open late at night, but cared not at all about who belonged in which room once doors were shut. I had a male friend who’d always knock on my door late on Saturday nights after watching the evening movie over in the auditorium, since he could see the light was on in my dorm room on his walk back to his room elsewhere in our co-ed dorm. Pretty much every week, we’d be talking in the hallway with my door open sometime after midnight and the RA on late night rounds would tell us we needed to go in my room and shut the door, because it was too late to be talking in the hallway with the door open.

            (I was 17 at the time.)

            1. Ever So Nice*

              Depending on how soundproof the rooms were, I can see the reason for that! Nothing worse than being woken up/kept awake because people are having a full volume conversation outside your door.

        2. Lydia*

          Somewhere on the post sharing stories about abuses of tiny amounts of power, a reader has posted about this person.

        3. Butters*

          I had a hall director who targeted my friends and I for no discernable reason that we could figure out. We were pretty quiet and chill, but she threatened to kick us out of the dorms more than once. One time she accused me of setting the kitchen on fire just because she saw me use it a lot. She was very angry when I told her she couldn’t price anything and 200 other idiots lived in the dorm as well. She would cite us all the time for noise for laughing during the afternoon, but refused to address the underage freshmen coming home drunk at 3 am and SCREAMING obscenities in the hallway.
          Our parents had to make a formal complaint when she tried to charge the first floor for every incidence of vomit on that floor despite witnesses seeing it was the 3rd floor men doing it. Petty tyrant.

    4. Panhandlerann*

      They were informally called “wing-dings” at my college. (Each was assigned to a wing.)

    5. Becky*

      I wonder if the meeting with parents of students was just something mundane like, these were international students and the parents were in wildly different time zones. 11 PM Pacific is 6 AM in the UK and 11:30 AM in India.

        1. Becky*

          Yeah the five hour duration is a question mark too–maybe the same 90 minute meeting 3 times in different time zone “chunks”? with 15 minutes between one. so 11-12:30 is Australia/Oceana/Asian/Indian group, 12:45-2:15 is Eastern Europe/Middle East/Eastern Africa and 2:30-4 is Western Europe/Western Africa/UK.

          But definitely still weird.

      1. BR Talk*

        That seems strange to me. Why would an RA have a meeting with parents? At college/university, most people are over 18 and therefore adults, and responsible for their own activities. Parents should have nothing to do with it.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          RAs can deal with issues such as substance abuse or mental illness. RAs are also there to notify families if they see the beginning of what can be serious issues.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            That sounds like it would violate privacy laws in the US. There might be an exception if students voluntarily requested it and signed a release form (with no pressure from the school), but otherwise they’re adults and entitled to personal privacy.

            1. Melanie Cavill*

              If it helps clarify (or further muddy?), I am not American and did not attend an American university.

            2. Butterfly Counter*

              RAs are not medical professionals and are not bound by privacy laws. Residents in dorms are often away from home for the first time in their lives and the RAs help them transition towards adulthood, but are also there if things go wrong.

              If I had a kid who was suddenly experiencing any variety of mental health issues that were noticeable to those in charge of dorms, I’d definitely need to know. First, the child would probably still be on my medical insurance. Second, I’d want to help if intervention was necessary. If a student is barricading their doors because “they” are after him; or if a student is sleeping all day and neglecting hygiene; or if a student is constantly in trouble due to drugs or alcohol, parents or whoever the students’ emergency contacts are should be informed.

              Dorms play by different rules than apartments for adults. Which is why there are RAs to begin with.

              1. MBK*

                I work for a U.S. university, and even though I don’t work in a position where anyone would ever contact me for any kind of student info, my onboarding included training about what kind of information we could/could not divulge or discuss about a student without their consent. Even to their parents. These rules are dictated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as well as state law and university policy. If a student is over 18, we cannot share any educational or behavioral records with their parents without their consent.

                1. Melanie Cavill*

                  I find it interesting that everyone is assuming that the RA asked for a five hour late night meeting with the parents, and not that helicopter parents insisted on a five hour late night meeting with their precious baby’s RA.

                  Not that I know what went down, but that would honestly have been my first guess.

                2. 3co*

                  When my mental health issues came to the attention of the dorm staff they (a) met with me to discuss their concerns and (b) referred me to campus health. I don’t remember if I was 17 or 18 at the time—I started college six weeks before turning 18 and the meeting with the dorm’s faculty advisor was probably within a week of my birthday.

                  My parents were not involved in any way, and probably wouldn’t have been unless I got kicked out. And even then, I don’t think the university would have explained the situation to them directly, it’s just that they’d notice if my tuition got refunded to their account or something like that.

            3. No One You Know*

              I recall many decades ago that one of my friends had a seizure late in the night. The RA spoke with me and a few other friends (an ambulance had been called so everyone was up for the noise). She asked if one of us had her family’s contact info and would we call, because as RA she was not able to call due to privacy rules.

          2. Susanna*

            When I was in school, they weren’t allowed to “report” things to parents. We were adults and responsible for ourselves, including our mistakes. Same with professors – can’t discuss grades with parents for privacy reasons (much to the disappointment of parents who think they can browbeat a professor into improving a grade for their adult offspring).

            1. Butterfly Counter*

              I think we’re arguing about scale here. Kid gets caught with alcohol: absolutely don’t call the parents. Kid is having a serious psychological break from reality: call the emergency contact.

              It’s less about reporting information and more about informing people of emergency situations.

        2. Melanie Cavill*

          Where I’m from, it’s more common than you might think to start university at 16 or 17.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            I was surprised to find this out when I started at mine and met quite a few people who started at that age (Scotland).

            1. Lady Knittington*

              At our (English) hall of residences we’d need to get a late license from the magistrates if we wanted to serve alcohol after 10 for events like Halloween or Christmas. The magistrates got savvy to this and refused to grant late licenses for Halloween parties. However if a Scottish student happened to have their 18th birthday at the end of October then we’d get a late license for their party.

          2. Susanna*

            I started at 17 but they STILL would not have called my parents unless I was in the hospital.

            1. ceiswyn*

              I started at 17, was diagnosed with depression in my second term, and suffered chickenpox in my third.
              Nobody even considered contacting my parents.

          3. Dennis Feinstein*

            Yes it’s quite common in Australia because many kids start school at 4 and finish at 17.
            I was 17 when I finished high school and for the first half of the following year.
            It was great because I had a gap year and was still only 18 when I started uni.

    6. Hyacinth Bucket (Pronounced Bouquet!)*

      Another second-hand story. I was a security monitor in college, which meant I manned the front desk and signed people in and out of the buildings. I also was the frontline for calling security, dealing with the fire department or police, etc. I was warned by my supervisor against working in a particular dorm over the summer term. That dorm was where they housed international students who were studying abroad, and there were always WILD incidents.

      A prior summer, the whole building had to be evacuated because of a fire in the basement. One of these study abroad students had dropped a Molotov cocktail down the trash chute from the top floor. In a separate incident, a massive amount of cocaine was found in one of these student’s rooms – much more than for personal use.

      I requested to be assigned to a different building when I worked summers.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        There’s a threshold for personal cocaine use?! I guess I’d never really thought about that. Y-I-K-E-S.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I suspect Hyacinth Bucket is referencing the amount that per legal definition changes a criminal charge from possession to intent is distribute.

        2. Jean*

          There’s a legal threshold for “personal use” (misdemeanor) vs “intent to sell/distribute” (felony) for cannabis, but as far as I know, in most if not all states, possession of any amount of cocaine is an automatic felony.

      2. TheBouquetResidence(the lady of the house speaking)*

        Replying just for the name! I love Hyacinth Bucket. You’re probably not typing this on a white cordless slimline phone.

      3. MM*

        A doctor told me once that because a certain local university had been recruiting students from a country I won’t name (one that has a relatively large class of very wealthy people who all send their children abroad for study), they had actually created a position where the entire job description was dealing with whatever wild incidents might come up with those students–smoothing things over with the city or police, etc. I don’t think I asked how she knew. (I also don’t remember how this came up during a regular check-up?)

        I do feel obliged to state: I think that this situation reflects nothing about international students generally (I’ve been friends with many! They were normal!) or even most people from that country specifically, but rather the antics of young people born into extreme wealth and explicit, legally-enshrined privilege. Like the silver-spoon Eton and Oxbridge set and the bizarre stuff they reportedly get up to.

    7. Chili pepper Attitude*

      Also not an RA. My only story is that one year my RA and a guy on the floor really liked each other and both kept confiding in me. I tried all the subtle ways of getting them to connect but she was too wary of violating ethics and he was a year younger and that seemed like a big deal back then.

      So the last week of school that year when he came to me with his sad tale yet again, I had had enough. I took him by the hand, walked him to her room, announced that they both liked each other and they had to sort themselves out.

      I learned later that they got married.

      1. squirreltooth*

        Meanwhile, I knew an RA who secretly started a relationship with a resident, pressured her to do everything BUT in terms of bedroom stuff (she was a very strict Christian), got engaged to her, and once they broke up because she came to her senses before it was too late, was on a dating app the next day. We all hated that RA.

    8. AnonEMoose*

      Another secondhand story here:

      An acquaintance of mine was once an RA, and was relating how she once had to have a conversation with a student, to ask him not to engage in self-pleasure while his roommate was in the room. According to her, after that, she would volunteer for most of the other awkward conversations, like telling someone they had bad breath or body odor or…you get the idea, because after that, those conversations just didn’t feel nearly as awkward as the one she’d already had to have!

      1. Maseca*

        OK, I also know a former RA who had to have the same very awkward conversation with a young male resident about which activities should be private, i.e., not done when roommates are present. She is a gutsier person than me for sure. I wonder how common that conversation actually is!

        1. Pdweasel*

          I had a friend in college whose PA had to sit him down & explain the concept of Quiet Hours and general noise in a communal living situation.

          He grew up on a farm and his parents were Deaf, so he’d just never had to be mindful of neighbors & noise before.

          1. thegirlriots*

            Oh goodness, Deaf homes can be LOUD! Poor kid must have been stomping and slamming cabinets. I hope the RA was kind to him. I’m glad he got an opportunity to learn rather than just getting yelled at by his peers.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Not me, but happened to my poor RA on move-in day the one year I lived on campus.
      I lived in a distinctly older building. Gorgeous brick architecture on the outside, definitely on the cramped side inside. The hallways were not blazing with light, the bathrooms were out of date (but very functional) and most important of all, the elevator was SLOW and less than perfectly functional.

      To try and prevent over-crowding and allow everyone reasonable access to the carts and things we needed we had pretty strict move-in times. It mostly worked – moving was crazy (as it normally is) but we didn’t cause any accidents and for the most part everyone had what they needed. Except that right as I got there and started signing in, the elevator got stuck. Between floors. With the RA inside. The fire department got called and everything, and I got glimpses of the drama as I carried clothes and plates up the stairs to the fourth floor.

      Luckily the RA was fine but we were all very wary of that elevator for the rest of the year.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        That reminds me of the elevator in my college dorm – one of my friends got stuck in it, more than once! I once happened across her stuck in the elevator on the floor where the cafeteria was – the door was open an inch or two, which is how I saw her. Since it was open a bit, I was able to go back to my room, bring her a paperback book, and slide it through the opening to her, so at least she had something to read!

        Anyway, that elevator was a bit older, and had “Otis” stamped into the metal at the bottom of the doors (the brand of elevator). So I randomly, and somewhat jokingly, started saying “Thank you, Otis!” as I got off the elevator, and some of my friends picked it up. When people would look at me strangely, I pointed out that I never got stuck in the elevator…I think about half the dorm was doing it by the time I moved out – LOL!

        1. Evelyn Carnahan*

          We had an old Otis elevator at my college radio station. Otis was always getting stuck between floors but if you jumped up and down enough you would eventually get it to slowly move back down to the first floor. Twenty years later I’m astounded that I thought this was safer than taking the creepy stairs up one floor.

          1. Oolie*

            Now I’m picturing the tap-dancing scene in Thoroughly Modern Millie, where the girls dance in the elevator to make it move! That could be kind of fun, actually. Well, when you’re 18, anyway. In my 50s I probably would like it better in theory than in practice.

        2. Miss Muffet*

          I was an RA and got stuck in our elevator (15 story bldg) with a couple of residents – thank god it wasn’t crowded! I remember we used the call button, which contacted the main office. They said they’d call the Duty RA. “um… I AM the duty RA”…

          1. Becky*

            What exactly is the duty RA supposed to do when the elevator is stuck when they are NOT in it? Not like the RA can fix it…

            I once got stuck in the elevator of a 2 story building while working a custodial job–I had my cleaning cart with me in the tiny elevator and got stuck and ended up having to call campus security to get it unstuck.

            1. Miss Muffet*

              Yeah I never quite knew either. Maybe sit outside the elevator and help keep people calm?

      2. A Library Person*

        A bunch of us, including our RA, crammed into an elevator on our way to the introductory hall meeting (which was to be held in the basement) and, of course, it gently landed on the bottom of the shaft in the basement. We had an impromptu hall intro meeting while we were waiting for the fire department to free us, and it was quite the introduction to my hallmates.

      3. Sam Bee*

        I was an RA in college and also have an elevator story! I worked in a dorm for upperclassmen so things were generally pretty chill. We were “lucky” enough to be the only residential building on campus with an elevator but it was so slow and known for getting stuck that no one used it except during move in/move out. Unfortunately as RAs we were required to “clear” the elevator during our last nightly patrol by checking it to make sure no one had gotten sick in the elevator and left a mess then riding up or down one floor. I got stuck 8 different times during the year and had to call campus security to free me from the elevator at 2 am. My fellow RAs all had similar counts.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Okay – not a former RA either, but I had several friends that were RA’s and would share stories.

        So it’s a dry dorm building, three floors tall, thirty double occupancy rooms per floor. It’s also one week before the end of the spring semester, so one week before move out. At three am on Finals Monday morning, the fire alarm goes off – because of a Molotov Cocktail that exploded in the only elevator for the building. RA friend told me they were able to catch the culprit three days later – as she tried to hit the next door building.

        The reason – she was a want to be moving megamagnate, and had drunkenly decided to fire bomb the elevators just before move-out to increase her customer base.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Unfortunately this was all about 20 years ago – so I can’t remember what happened to her, but I think she was required to pay for the damages.

            Drunk and fire never mix well. And there were several drunk and fire incidents in housing while I was there. I independently posted another one below.

      5. calonkat*

        I feel I must put in a good word for Otis elevators, named after the founder and the inventor of an early safety brake, Elisha (sp?) Otis. The issue keeping elevators from use in taller buildings was that if the cable broke, it was a fast fall to the bottom. Otis came up with a brake that kicked in automatically and made elevators safe for tall buildings. If I remember correctly, he used to demonstrate by having the cable cut on a car with his brake installed.

        Issues are most likely caused by aging equipment, and poor maintenance.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I actually remember the elevator in my old dorm rather fondly. But I do recall one other elevator story that involved the brakes. I heard this one from my spouse.

          Years ago, the Shriners were having their convention in a local hotel with which we are familiar. An elevator full of them decided to jump in the elevator, because why not (I suspect there was alcohol involved). Well…the elevator proceeded to fall two floors because someone had excessively lubricated the emergency breaks. I don’t think anyone was badly hurt, but there were some bumps and bruises and people generally being shaken up.

    10. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I went back to school for my first degree in 2011. Orientation week was during Hurricane Irene. At several points during the storm, the rain died down while the winds kept howling and debris was still flying. I got to watch several RAs haul students back inside, sometimes bodily. They’d gone out smoking, thinking that the high winds were nothing to worry about!

      1. frystavirki*

        I started college in 2011 and remember that hurricane! I….completely ran out of food during it because we’d just moved in a few days earlier and had to run across the street to get something to eat in the middle of it. To be fair, I don’t think it was that bad where we were, at least compared to the hurricanes I’d seen growing up on the coast of Florida as a kid. I put on a raincoat, acquired some Chipotle because it was the closest thing I could eat, and ran back inside.

        1. Buffy the Tornado Slayer*

          I was an RA in a college in Ohio. We were under a tornado warning, and technically all the students needed to evacuate to the basement. No one did. In fact, being jaded Midwesterners most of them went out looking for the funnel(s). I had to get on the P.A. system to tell people to evacuate to the basement, but no one listened. In hindsight, I realized an EF2 or 3 tornado probably wouldn’t have even dented the brick and concrete monstrosities we were housed in even if it was a direct hit…

    11. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Another second-hand one: this was actually told to me by my grandma who attended the same university I did 60 years before I did. One of the dorm buildings had the type of window that has a horizontal pane that opens up and out, rather than folding to the right (google Fold-Up Window to get an idea of what I’m talking about). One bright shining example of studenthood decided to convince his fellow dorm-mates to open all the windows immediately above and below him on a dorm that was 10(?) floors high, go up to the highest floor, and drop a bowling ball through all of them. Well…his bright idea worked. Pandemonium and broken glass all over the place. Luckily no one got killed.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I’m wincing and laughing at the same time! Impromptu physics experiment…yeah…that’s what it was…

      2. KoiFeeder*

        My dad’s college roommates got utterly clotheshangered, stole a telephone pole for his lizard (said lizard deserved nothing but luxury, yes, but a chinese water dragon simply isn’t big enough to need a telephone pole!) and then managed to shove it out the stairway window when he told them to put it back. Apparently this was another occasion where no one got hurt, but I’ve always wondered just how much damage occurred that night.

        My dad kindly covered for them and told the RA that they had gotten food poisoning when the RA came around asking questions, and their hangovers were apparently so severe that the RA bought it (because this was not the first or last stupid thing my dad’s roommates did, and I can’t imagine them not being known for it at that point).

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Drunken physics experiments are a thing – I have one I’ll post separately- it’s also not an RA story – but as I was the only non-drunk person in the building that day, it counts, right?

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Telling us of Drunken Physics is a noble thing and that alone should qualify it for being told.

    12. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I remembered a couple from my first college. My RA was unfond of me for various reasons, and they were often one of the biggest “pranksters.”

      One night I woke up to a bonking against my door at 3am. I opened it to find an RC car with a piglet doll strapped face down over the back. Behind him was fastened a “bouncing Tigger” plush, hopping for all it was worth against Piglet’s rear. The person controlling it was the RA, who asked if I wanted to be Piglet. Reporting him did nothing.

      My roommate was a goth, and I was unabashedly agnostic. Our next door neighbors were very religious. One even shoved a card under our door, “inviting” us to come be exorcised. This was probably because on Halloween, during a “trick or treat” event where our door was open, my roommate had worn a goats head mask while stirring a cauldron with dry ice in it. We showed the card to the RA, and they told us that we must be making it up, that two God-fearing Christians wouldn’t have done such a thing. That if we didn’t want to be harrassed, maybe we should try going to church. (This was NOT a Christian school, but it was in the northern Bible Belt.)

      I would not condone my response to their “invitation” these days. One of the two was more than a bit of an arachnophobe. Fake spiderweb is all but invisible in the dark if you stretch it out thin enough. So I did so, then added a few realistic fake spiders. His screams at 3am woke half the hallway. They did not bother us again. As the RAs could not prove it was us, I never got in trouble. (I never did find an opportunity to prank the RA and get away with it.)

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        Memories of 1999-2001 are literally flooding back. Floyd hit while I was there as well! Near the dorm was a golf course on Green Pond Road, which normally didn’t have a pond. Until Floyd! While it was still raining, some of the guys setup a HUGE white tarp on the ground, leading into the morass that was this new “pond.” They enjoyed that homemade Slip n Slide until the RAs yelled at them for coming back in looking like mud monsters.

        The flooding eventually ended up in the dorms themselves, leaving about a foot or two of water on the first floor. The building was cinderblock and concrete, which is important. During cleanup, RAs found loose floor tiles in several of the first floor rooms, under where the beds had been. Underneath were carefully chipped hollows, some containing bottles of beer. No one knew how long they’d been there, but it confirmed at least one rumor!

    13. Bunny Girl*

      Yeah I was never an RA, but my summer internship had 1 and 2 level interns with the level 2s living on the property and supervising the level 1s. The level 2 interns lived in the basement in BFE and they shared their living quarters with a basement full of minks, possums, and the occasional raccoon. Yes they all screamed. Yes, they stink. There was a reason I was a level 1.

      1. Splendid Colors*

        So were the animals part of their internship or did they just do freelance critter rescue? (I went to a school with a Wildlife department and could well imagine that at Cal Poly Humboldt.)

    14. Salymander*

      The RA in my building was terrible. He was the one we complained about. We lived in a portable building, so the walls were super thin and the whole building shook when someone closed a door even a tiny bit harder than they should. Unfortunately, the RA wanted to be a DJ, so he invested a ton of money in equipment, including the biggest speakers I have ever seen. From about 9:00pm to 2-3 am, the RA DJ would practice his skills, sans headphones, in his room. It was so loud that I could play music in my room on full volume and I could barely hear it. Noise canceling headphones made no difference whatsoever. The building vibrated like it was an earthquake. My blinds fell off the window because the vibration somehow made the fittings detach from the wall. I tried talking to him, but he just kept telling me that I was trying to kill his dreams. I tried talking to our housemates, but most of them were buddies of his and I was brushed off for being a drama queen. I reported him to the administrator of our housing, but they were not interested.

      This went on all week, and was even worse on the weekend. By Monday I was beyond angry and had moved into titanic rage territory. I mean, this guy was a terrible RA anyway, and was a huge creeper. Plus, this new torment was right before midterms, and I had about 10 books to read for class and 3 papers to write while studying for tests. Something had to be done.

      I banged on RA DJ’s door (yet again) to tell him to shut it down, but he couldn’t hear me. I had to break into his room by unscrewing the peephole in the door and using a wire coat hanger to hook the door handle. He didn’t even notice until I unplugged the power strip that his stuff was hooked up to and ran out of the room. The campus was surrounded by forest, so I hid the power strip out in the woods and went back later to dispose of the evidence. RA DJ complained to me about it later, and I was surprised that he was fairly calm and not yelling at me, until I realized that his back had been to the door and he didn’t realize that I was the one who stole the power strip because I left the room before he turned around. To this day he has no idea that I am the power strip bandit. RA DJ was actually pretty freaked out, but I didn’t say a word.

      Of course the RA DJ bought another power strip, and was at it again the next night until I called the security/maintenance guy I was friendly with and asked him to talk to RA DJ. He was a really big, intimidating guy, but was normally just a teddybear, so I thought he would just give RA DJ a Stern Talking To. Instead, he banged on RA DJ’s door, yelling about noise level regulations, and confiscated the speakers. He was totally not allowed to do that, but he disliked RA DJ anyway for unrelated reasons so when I asked for help he went a little overboard. The RA DJ got the speakers back a couple of days later, but I guess he gave up on his dj dream job because there were no more music induced earthquakes in our building. The university didn’t reprimand or discipline anyone for any of this. I swear, that campus was like the wild west.

      1. frystavirki*

        I’m so glad the maintenance guy could do something, even if it wasn’t officially sanctioned, because wow. I had a guy like that next door to me at my first college, who brought in enormous speakers and would play dubstep at high volume all hours of the day and night. At first I thought there was just an incredibly rude car parked beneath my window because it was only a few hours, but then the time the music was left on started increasing, things started falling off my walls, etc. I worked up the courage to ask this dude who was nearly 2 feet taller than me to turn his music down and he quit for a day or two and then went back to it. By the time I had to leave that college for medical reasons they were working on kicking him out of the building, so hopefully whoever took over my room for the spring semester didn’t have to deal with him. To this day, though, can’t hear any Skrillex without thinking about that guy.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          At my first college, way back in 1999, there was a guy who BLARED rap music from his boombox. The RAs did nothing. I ended up blasting classic rock CDs on my computer, which had the old HUGE metal fronted Gateway speakers every time he started. My volume consistently beat his in the volume wars. (This was during the day, he wasn’t dumb enough to do it at night.) It only took 2 or 3 sessions for him to turn it down.

      2. Lisa*

        ” He didn’t even notice until I unplugged the power strip that his stuff was hooked up to and ran out of the room.”
        Scene from a movie!! Classic!!!

    15. Granny Weatherwax*

      Story that happened to my sister (who wasn’t an RA): she found a corn snake in her room one evening (pets were not allowed in the dorms) and apparently no one in the building had any idea what to do about it. The RA on duty asked if my sister could keep it until the next day. My sister’s answer was an emphatic “NO!”, she doesn’t like snakes plus had no where to safely store a snake. My sister ended up calling animal control and someone came out that night to get the snake. You’d think if the dorms don’t allow pets there’d be some policy for what happens if someone finds a pet.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, something similar happened to me! I was trying to use the public kitchenette and there was a hamster that had gotten inside the burners (there was a flat coil that heated up when the burner was on and then empty space beneath the coils- both a horrific pain to clean AND the perfect fit for a frightened hamster). I roomed with the RA (separate rooms but shared bathroom) and I didn’t mind holding onto the hamster for the evening, but she was the one who had to buy the hamster cage so it didn’t leave the dorm overnight.

        I confess that I’m very curious about what the rumor mill made of your story, especially given that animal control appeared. By the time my incident got back to me via the rumor mill, people were claiming that someone had put a chihuahua in the oven and turned it on.

        1. Granny Weatherwax*

          From what my sister said she was asked by numerous people if she was the person who had the snake in their room. This all occurred late in the evening so not that many people saw what was happening since they were in their rooms.

    16. Cat Mom Cuddles*

      I worked as residence hall director and oversaw the RA staff. Norms and expectations of university housing offices are wildly varied. I would never expect one of my RAs to a.) speak with parents about their adult child and b.) have meetings at 11 pm. RAs are not qualified or paid enough for that. Even as a professional staff member, I would not meet with parents at that hour or even for that length of time.

    17. Zephy*

      I’m not an RA but I do work at a college with residence halls. One day I overheard some admissions folks talking about an early-morning tour that had just wrapped up. In the Before Times, rather than keeping one dorm room unoccupied to use as a show room for tours during the school year (and thus lose that $$$), the university would have students volunteer to have their rooms shown on tours for a given span of time. I think it was something like monthly. All of our dorm rooms are either 4- or 6-person suites (consisting of two bedrooms with 2 or 3 beds each, a common area, and a bathroom), and we have a lot of student athletes so it’s very common to have, say, 4 or 6 baseball players or whatever all in a suite together. That morning, the showroom was occupied by six women’s lacrosse players, and no sooner had the tour guide explained this and opened the door to let the touring family inside, but they encountered a young man (!) brushing his teeth in the en-suite bathroom. I believe I heard someone mention that there were a few, uh, undergarments strewn about the common area, as well.

    18. Little Sister*

      Another 2nd hand story:

      My first week of college, I noticed a super cute guy in one of my classes.* After class he happened to walk back to my same dorm! I found out he roomed with his older brother (who was also cute, but not as cute as his younger brother) on a different floor of my dorm. (Maybe the RA mentioned it when I was talking to her about how my first week was or something, I don’t remember. She was from the same town as them.) Our dorm also had a Big Brother / Big Sister program where a first year student could get matched up with an upperclass student. She did me a solid and matched me up with the cute guy’s older brother. So I had all sorts of excuses to go to their room, hang out, etc. I would purposefully stop by when I knew Big Brother wasn’t around, “Oh hi, I was looking for BB. Oh he’s not here…darn.” and then get to talk to cute guy. Or I would ask Big Brother to something I knew he couldn’t attend, “Oh rats. You can’t come? Do you think [cute brother] would be interested?”

      Cute guy and I became very good friends (although much to my chagrin, never anything more than platonic) and I was even invited to his (first) wedding. Twenty years later, we still keep in touch (and I still have a little crush on him), but I am okay that we never dated…we probably wouldn’t still be friends if we had.

      * We had adjacent majors so we ended up being in a lot of classes together that were required for both of our majors.

    19. Bryce*

      My main RA story is when my dorm threw a party and I was feeling awkward because I didn’t drink and couldn’t find the groove. My Dorm Mom told me that as long as you’re carrying something nobody checks, and if you cut loose they’ll just assume you’re drunk.

      She told me this while wearing a saran wrap dress and stone cold sober.

    20. Ally McBeal*

      One of my dear friends was an RA in our junior year, which was also the year that my then-boyfriend’s mischievous little brother started college. I got to hear about the pranks from both of them, which was my favorite thing in the world – little brother and his hallmates built a snowman directly in front of his door, they moved all the lounge furniture into the bathroom and had a party in there, they stole orange parking cones from all over campus and had some sort of weird bowling event, mattress surfing, etc. My friend had a good sense of humor so he took it in stride, but not knowing what fresh (funny) hell they’d cooked up for him that day definitely stressed him out at times.

    21. Lalaith*

      My secondhand (or at least, on the other side) story:

      When I was a freshman, I woke early one morning to the sound of water dripping from my ceiling. Fortunately it was far enough from anything important (like my computer) to not cause damage, but it was too close for comfort. And, you know, just bad overall. I don’t actually remember if I had to go get my RA or if they/security/maintenance were already up and trying to fix the issue. Because as it turns out, my ceiling was leaking because some drunk dude ripped a water fountain out of the wall on the floor above mine.

      Fun little postscript – my senior year, I was in an acting class, and as part of some assignment, that dude told the story of ripping out the water fountain! I told him what he did to my room. He was not sufficiently apologetic :-P

  2. Cori Classen*

    I was an RA in a dorm that didn’t allow pets except for fish and certain birds. One of the girls called me in a panic because she was secretly keeping a sugar glider in her room and it had escaped. She was looking for it everywhere. I was about to hang up and go look for it when I heard a terrified scream a floor up. Fastest resolution to a call EVER.

    1. Suzanne (not Susan)*

      sugar glider – I was envisioning some sort of alligator type creature, or at least a skink-type reptile, but no, a sugar glider is a cute little marsupial.

      1. quill*

        Except that if they are frightened, they will go STRAIGHT for your hair to nest.

        … my sugar glider incident occurred in high school.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Yeah, I would’ve been screaming too. Not intentionally, and not because I’m afraid of sugar gliders, but I do not like surprise things coming at my face or head and sugar gliders will go directly for your hair.

          (lower school for me- show and tell day explicitly said no live animals but the teacher really should not have tried to confiscate the sugar glider while it wasn’t in its carrier)

          1. quill*

            Standing in the middle of drama club screaming “call off your rodent!” as it attempted to weave a safe house on the back of my neck ALSO didn’t work.

              1. quill*

                I would have loved the dang thing if it wasn’t trying to burrow into my scalp. They’re adorable.

    2. quill*

      *Dying laughing*

      Junior year my roommate had a pair of rats. The RA and I spent a lot of time cuddling the contraband rodents while trying to do horrifyingly complex problem sets in analytical chem (me) and required calc (RA)

    3. Rob aka Mediancat*

      One of my classmates had a single pet mouse (at a college that allowed no pets at all) and she let the mouse out occasionally to wander around the room. (It would come when called, apparently.)

      One day the mouse gave birth.

        1. Rob aka Mediancat*

          Long enough that it wasn’t pregnant when they got it. I’m not sure otherwise.

    4. Not a rat*

      There was a guy in my dorm who had chinchillas that he kept hidden from the RA for most of a semester. When the RA found out, he told us that the maintenance people had been really concerned all semester about the “rat” droppings they found at the bottom of the garbage shoot, since they had tried everything but hasn’t been able to catch any rodents. The RA said there were at least a few long meetings with the RAs about it.

      1. Salymander*

        I think chinchilla poops are way bigger than rat poops, so they must have been pretty worried about any rat big enough to poop like a chinchilla. *giggles*

        1. KoiFeeder*

          From what I remember of chinchilla poop, it is a little bigger, but if someone’s not looking closely and just cleaning it up I can see where they’d make the mistake.

    5. The Katie*

      A sudden scream from elsewhere was how the missing leg incident was resolved at my work.

        1. The Katie*

          I work in a medical lab, and we had a severed leg go missing in transit one evening. Turns out it had been placed in a poorly labelled blood reagents box and the orderly who received it delivered it to the blood bank. When they opened the box…

    6. kitryan*

      A friend had a secret (albino) hedgehog on my freshman floor. Based on what I know now, it was probably in too small an enclosure with not enough enrichment (and too much daytime ruckus for the poor nocturnal baby), but boy was it adorable.

      1. CatToys*

        Senior year the person across the hall from me also had a contraband hedgehog. RA was clueless. Those in the know asked about her “fish” since you could have fish in the dorm.

  3. On Patrol for Miscreants*

    I was an RA for summer programs for high school students. The rules were extremely strict, and students of other genders could only share common rooms – no hallways of gender-segregated areas, certainly not rooms, nothing – along with a very strict curfew where students had to be in their rooms and not leave.

    I was on duty one night well after curfew and walking around the deserted dorm, and saw two students on the couch in the common area, clearly hooking up – things were quickly moving from PG-13 to R. Sighing internally and questioning why I took the job, I opened the door to write them up and ask for their IDs. They gave me the blankest of stares. I said I had to write them up and they would have to report for disciplinary action in the morning. They looked at me, confused. I looked at them, resigned. After a few excruciating minutes, we ascertained they were fellow college students who thought the dorm was empty, and were mortified to find it was not. I did not, in fact, write them up, but did send them on their way with a few suggestions for truly deserted floors.

    1. nonegiven*

      I was in one of those programs. It was way looser. There were women’s floors, men’s floors, and co-ed floors. There were visiting hours, something like 7am to 11pm. We were advised if there was a man in our rooms after 11 pm, we would be better off having him leave after 7 am, than to get caught trying to sneak him out during the night.

      This was during the 70s, though. The cheerleader camps even had a separate cafeteria, so it wasn’t all looser. Maybe they thought math and computer science students were way more trust worthy than cheerleaders.

  4. Cheap Ass Rolls*

    Not only did I work for Res Life in college, I was a “dorm mom” in a boarding school for two years. Ill be back to share stories later.

    1. Rara Avis*

      Oh gosh, I was going to ask if dorm parenting stories counted too. 3 years at a girls’ Catholic boarding school, starting at age 21 when I had to try to tell an 18-year-old junior what she could and couldn’t do. Fun times.

      1. kicking_k*

        Augh. Worse than my stint as an English teaching “assistante” in a French high school. Three-quarters of my teaching hours per week were primary school kids who were delightful and thought I was an adult. The remaining quarter? Aaaaargh. They were as tall as me, smelled blood in the water and I had no chance!

    2. Hyacinth Bucket (Pronounced Bouquet!)*

      Oh man. I was a student at an all-girls Catholic boarding school. I felt so bad for some of the resident faculty with all the crap we got up to.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I went to boarding school. We had a whole extra person living in our house that the staff never knew about, who was supposed to have left the country. And the jello in our dorm fridge? Let’s just say you could have set fire to it.

  5. Albeira Dawn*

    One of the RAs in my dorm moved his girlfriend in 4 days out of the week. She did not go to the school and worked a professional job. I have no clue how he managed to get her past the security guards, since they were pretty strict about having visitor and overnight passes and would definitely have noticed her.
    Mostly I wonder how they fit in the bed, since they were both at least 6′ and even the RAs only had twin XL mattresses.

    1. R*

      I’m a non-thin dude who generally dates other non-thin dudes, and that was especially the case in college. At 40 I have a queen size mattress and I sometimes regret not buying a king — I don’t know how I even ever slept solo in a twin, especially these days when I have back pain when I sleep even the tiniest bit off.

      I guess we did have pretty strict rules against having only same-gender overnight guests, but honestly I never noticed them affecting me much :P

      1. 867-5309*

        I am a 5’2″ CIS women who dates men, often smaller statured and I don’t know how I ever fit into a twin bed with someone, either! As a now 42-year-old, even in a queen bed I like my space when I sleep. Oh to be young again :)

        1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

          Through Circumstances (TM), I loved my twin bed in college, to the point that when I moved home afterwards, I begged for a twin bed to replace my (very crappy) double bed. My father thought it was ridiculous to have an adult daughter with a twin bed (plus, he had the free frame for a double bed) and decided that, even though it was my graduation gift and I wanted a twin bed, I was getting a double bed. I finally got my own twin bed 17 years later and I love having a small, compact bed for my spinster self, and extra room in my bedroom.

          1. 867-5309*

            I have a queen bed and I sleep on approximately 1/3 of it – same side, every night, 365 days out of the year. The dog gets the other 2/3.

            1. Avery*

              Same here! Well, the dog shares her portion with the cats. And during the day I spend some time on the other side just to shake things up. I swear, my dog spends more time on that bed than I do…

            2. alienor*

              I also have a queen bed and only use a very small slice of it. (It’s the same side I slept on when I was married, even though that was 15+ years ago – old habits die hard I guess.) The rest is usually taken up with pets.

            3. SeluciaMD*

              Same! What’s really funny is that I used to have a King sized bed – which was lovely! – but I decided I wanted room to have a comfy chair in my bedroom so when I needed to replace my mattress, I downsized to a queen. While my 60lb fur baby has always slept on the bed, she always did it curled up against “her” pillow at the foot of the bed. She never crowded me or spread out so I did not anticipate any issues with her because she’d still fit just fine that way on the queen. BOY WAS I WRONG. She now takes every opportunity to spread out the ENTIRE width of the bed around knee level right when I’m ready to go to sleep. And if I try to move her she goes deadweight like I’m trying to put her in the bathtub. I can’t decide if this is her way of saying she loves this bed or she absolutely hates it and is punishing me for changing it.

              So yeah, unless my back is killing me I just keep to my “part” of the bed and pretzel myself around her.

              Dog = 1, Human = 0

          2. Not Australian*

            I’ve got a story that reverses that. My sister bought a flat which had been a holiday let, so she got a lot of furniture to go with it – including a double bed. As a very tall girl, this was paradise for her.

            And then she went on holiday and gave my mother a key so that she could water her plants, and my mother took advantage of her absence to *sell* the double bed and replace it with a single. “What does an unmarried girl want with a double bed anyway?”

            Sister was fully independent and in her twenties at the time.

            1. Mauvaise Pomme*

              I bet your mom often and loudly bemoans why, oh WHY, her terribly ungrateful children keep her at arm’s length, don’t want to spend time with her, and won’t give her keys to their homes.

            2. allathian*

              Oh my goodness. I hope your sister had words with your mother when she found out… Did she sell the single bed and replace it with a double?

            3. Summer*

              Wow that makes me so mad on your sister’s behalf! The absolute nerve to sell her *mattress* while she was away!! My jaw dropped and I can’t stop shaking my head. I hope your sister reamed her out and made her replace the mattress!

          3. MistOrMister*

            Fellow twin bed lover here!! Growing up I had the smallest bedroom and I assume that is why i had a twin bed (my parents, sister and the guest room all had bigger beds…probably doubles or queens). i had a twin in college due to the apartment size. When i got my first ever apartment I got a queen and didnt care for it. Moved to my house using a twin but then got some of my grandmother’s furniture and figured I should put the lovely antique double bed to use. God do I hate that bed. I lasted a couple of years then moved it into a spare room for my cats and am back on my twin daybed. And it is heaven!!!

            1. Becky*

              I am a single 38 year old woman and currently use a twin bed because live in a friggin tiny apartment. If I one day ever manage to buy a house (which would most likely entail moving a good distance across the US) I will have to see if I even like something larger than a twin because except for occasional guest or hotel beds, I have slept on a twin my entire life.

          4. Daily Ham Raffles*

            i slept on a queen size bed from the ages of 12-26, then when i moved into a new place i switched to a twin. i sleep soundly and hardly ever move, plus i’m only 5’3 and therefore don’t need much room. i love the additional space in my bedroom. more room for pretty things! plus room for a desk with my gaming PC in there rather than in a common area.

          5. calonkat*

            I’m with you. I got rid of the double bed when I moved into my new place, and I miss some extra room occasionally, but I can change the bedding without help, the bedding is smaller (it’s a small apartment, so that matters), and there’s more room for bookshelves and cat trees!

          6. kicking_k*

            I don’t like sleeping in a large bed when it’s just me, even though my husband and I have the biggest bed you can get…

            Our college had very narrow single beds, pushed up against an exterior wall which was very cold on the back…

          7. kitryan*

            I have an IKEA bed that is normally a twin sized daybed but has a pull out that doubles its size. I have 2 twin mattresses stacked on it when it’s a twin and then flip one over to the new half when it’s pulled out. It’s great. The twin ‘setting’ makes the whole room roomy and the bed a bit snug and the double size takes up most of the room but is luxurious to sleep on. When I switch it I am delighted each time with my newly large bedroom or my newly giant bed.
            I mostly use the ‘big’ bed when I’m not feeling great or am having a lazy weekend.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          I used to live in a very petite studio apartment, and had a twin bed because a larger bed would have taken up basically all of my floor space — a twin bed meant I had room for the world’s tiniest 2-searter dining table, my little bitty desk, AND a tiny Ikea sofa. And when it was just me it was, well, cramped, but nice.

          Unfortunately due to Reasons(TM) my partner and two giant suitcases ended up staying with me for 2 weeks. I love him and we are still together 15 years later but I was glad to see the back of him after two weeks of both of us sleeping in a twin bed. We are neither of us especially small. It was very cramped. I think part of the only reason it worked was that it was one of those Ikea bedframes that sticks out like 4 inches on either side and I had a mattress topper that sort of smooshed out onto the overhang so we both were able to wrangle a few extra inches.

        3. Free now (and forever)*

          I can’t understand how I ever did the twin bed thing either and I’m 5’9”. When my husband and I were first married, we had a double bed and we literally had fights about who was one inch over on the other person’s side of the bed. We’ve had a queen size bed now for many years, but I always look for the opportunity to get a king size bed when getting a hotel room or renting an Airbnb.

      2. Shhh*

        Yeah, I’m a woman who generally doesn’t date or share a bed with anyone. I stayed with my parents for a while at the height of the pandemic, which meant sleeping in the standard twin I last regularly slept in during high school. In turns out I’ve gotten REALLY used to spreading out while sleeping.

      3. ceiswyn*

        I was a non-thin chick who dated dudes of multiple sizes while at university, and I have literally no idea how some of those combinations managed to both fit onto a single bed. And yet we did.

        Teenagers have some kind of topology magic?

        1. Wendy Darling*

          My recollection, as a fat woman who shared a twin bed with my partner for a few weeks in grad school (so I was like 25 and too old for any teenage magic), is that we sort of slept in a pile. My bet is teens just care less about sleeping in a heap like puppies.

          I went to a small college that required all students to live on campus, so 100% of everyone was in dorms with twin beds (they weren’t even extra long!), and we pretty much all spent some time doubled up in them.

          I suspect this is also where I developed my tendency to sleep curled up in a little ball. I still kind of like sleeping in a twin bed when I’m alone. Before I lived with my partner I used to sleep on one side of my bed and leave a pile of books and laundry on the other side.

          1. Daily Ham Raffles*

            this reminds me of the time in high school when i and three other girls had to share a queen bed during a school trip. it was okay but awkward, then got uncomfortable when one classmate started kicking and blanket-stealing.

          2. Owler*

            I still like to sleep with my toes off the end of the bed. I suspect my teenage twin bed was extra short.

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          I think it’s also easier to fall asleep in an uncomfortable bed when you are as perpetually sleep-deprived as college students often are. I saw sunrise from the wrong end far too often in college.

        3. allathian*

          It’s the first flush of love that does it. When my husband and I started dating, he had a single/twin bed. I’m not small, so it was cramped, but because we were in an LDR and I only spent the occasional weekend in his city, it wasn’t a problem.

          That said, for much of my childhood I shared a room with my sister. We had an army surplus bunk bed, and it was only 60 cm/approx. 2 ft wide, so I got used to not having much room.

          When we moved in together and got married, we bought a king as soon as we had enough room for it, but these days I’m a poor sleeper to the point that I can’t tolerate another person sleeping in the same room… So I sleep alone on a king size bed, while my husband sleeps on a twin in the guestroom (my office). I’m convinced that separate beds and bedrooms saved our marriage, I turn nasty when I don’t get enough sleep.

    2. OrigCassandra*

      It’s possible if you’re cozy and reasonably bendable. I’m 5’9″ and my college boyfriend was 6’1″. Ah, college…

      1. Filosofickle*

        I spent my senior year sharing a twin almost every night and cozy is the word! You also have to be able to sleep on your side. We spooned all night, and when one of us turned over we both turned over. Looking back decades on with a middle-aged body, it’s hard to believe that worked.

        1. 867-5309*

          I want an entire Sunday, nonwork thread on “things we did in relationships in college that we would never do today.” Example: Cuddling. I love to snuggle but at some point, I need to roll away and sleep but same to your point, in college, spooning all night. Now, I get hot and sticky and I’m like, “get away from me.”

      2. Wendy Darling*

        My freshman roommate was 5’8 or so and her hometown boyfriend was 6’6 and somehow they crammed into a twin bed together, but I remember it looking like a game of pick-up sticks.

        1. Anon4this*

          Hahahahaha! When I met my husband, we were both tall & very skinny and were able to fit in my twin bed if we spooned or snuggled (we’re fat now, no way would that work.) Looking like a game of Pick Up Sticks is a great description!

    3. The Original K.*

      Someone I knew in college moved her boyfriend in for like two months. He lived abroad (where she’d met him) and his school schedule was such that he was off for that time, so she moved him into her dorm apartment with her roommates. I’m not sure how she pulled it off – I think she had to sign him in and out every day. (Her roommates were very glad to see him go.)

      1. Enough*

        Back in the old days where visitation by the other gender was only allowed during certain hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday one of my dorm mates would spend Thursday night thru Monday morning in her boyfriend’s dorm. It wasn’t really that hard to get in and out but I did wonder how they handled the bathroom. Single sex dorms with the corresponding single sex bathroom and for small dorms that meant 1 per floor.

        1. Avery*

          I spent some time in boys’ dorms as a… well I’m agender but thought I was cis female at the time. Not for the same reason as your dorm mate, mind, just one of my friends was in that dorm and we’d stay up late playing Pokemon together. The bathroom situation wasn’t that bad, just had to grab a stall, ideally at an off time. It didn’t help that it was the school party dorm, though, so those bathrooms weren’t especially clean…

        2. Kacihall*

          I lived off campus in college but my boyfriend was in the dorms when we got together. If it was snowing or our bowling league ended after the busses stopped, I would stay with him. There’s usually a gender neutral bathroom in the lobby, or my boyfriend went slightly ahead of me to make the the RA wasn’t in there if I didn’t feel like sneaking all the way to the lobby.

          Granted, the ‘adult’ supervisor in the building definitely saw me a few times after hours and didn’t care. We weren’t loud or dirty, and we weren’t drinking so we caused fewer issues than most of the guys in the hall. (I have no idea how two not-petite 19 year olds slept in a twin loft bed. I don’t like sharing a twin bed with my toddler nowadays, which is why he has our old queen sized bed!)

        3. The Original K.*

          We were seniors and the dorms we lived in were apartment-style and co-ed (all dorms were co-ed but there was a sizable Orthodox Jewish population so each dorm had lower-level single-sex floors), and you could have overnight/weekend guests but not for months at a time. I think she signed him in and out every day, and maybe asked her roommates to do so too so nobody caught on that he was linked exclusively to her.

    4. Zephy*

      Probably pinched an extra bed kit from storage and DIY’d himself a king – a standard king-size mattress has the same dimensions as two Twin XL mattresses pushed together.

      1. DarthVelma*

        Other than the first couple of weeks, I never had a roommate in the dorms in college and I did this very thing. Pushed the two twin beds together, tied the frames together, got one of those twin bed connector thingies so I wouldn’t fall between the mattresses, and I was good to go.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For what it’s worth, that’s how my parents set up their bed because our older house had a very tight staircase. Not even a queen mattress could turn that corner.

        1. Can’tAdultToday*

          I have a king that made it up tight stairs, the frame is in 3 sections, and the mattress was bendy enough to take the curves.

          My non-slim hubby and I take up 9/10 of it, including sprawling space.

          1. Becky*

            In my youth, my family once tried to do a “camp out” on the living room floor and decided to move my parents king size mattress from the lower level (shallow basement with a full entrance in the back) to the main level. We folded the mattress like a taco to go up the half staircase with a low ceiling and broke the mattress.

            1. Becky*

              Would have been smarter to take the mattress out the back door, up the drive way around the house and in the front door but we didn’t know the mattress couldn’t fold that way until we tried it.

    5. AnonInCanada*

      Mostly I wonder how they fit in the bed, since they were both at least 6′ and even the RAs only had twin XL mattresses

      I’m pretty sure they figured it out *wink*

    6. KateM*

      Oh, everything is possible when you are young…
      There was time when the bed I shared with my husband was only 8″ wider than the bed that our 2yo child shared with a teddy.

    7. anonNY*

      Oh wow, this is bringing back memories of fighting with my college boyfriend (now my husband!) because I was convinced that he (6’4″ tall) could spend the night in the twin bed with me if he really really wanted to, and that his reluctance to do so was a sign that he didn’t really love me after all.

      Somehow, he managed to look beyond these occasional bouts of crazy on my part and we are celebrating our 20th anniversary later this year.

    8. ScruffyInternHerder*

      I’m towards the tall end for a woman and have always tended to date taller men. Its a long running joke that since childhood, I occupy about two square foot while asleep because I curl into a tiny ball. Twin XL beds never seemed to be an issue.

    9. outside sleeper*

      My now wife and I shared a twin XL bed for two years in various dorm rooms in college. She always slept by the wall because she didn’t mind sleeping kind of half in the crack between the wall and the bed. I would often hook my outside arm into the waistband of my pjs so that my arm wouldn’t flop out of the bed. It was HEAVEN when we got a real apartment and a full size bed.

      Ah, college.

  6. Viki*

    I was an RA/Intern Mom in a less traditional sense. A local university rented out rooms in my house when I was 24-ish, to older international students who didn’t want to live in Residence. My job was to be the Canada/city local touch point. Most of the time it was fine.

    The one time of note, they decided to do a summer program and I had two fourteen year old Russian girls living with me for two months at 25. I was not prepared to be a Mom/adult for them, and had to deal with them asking for me to sign permission slips as their designated adult and also hungover 14 year old girls. It was a learning curve.

    But the absolute worse was the 18 year old girl from Mexico–she was very sheltered and coming to Canada was the first time she was ever away from home. She had a shared bathroom that she never cleaned, didn’t go to classes and seemed to have a hard time adjusting to things like not getting picked up, having to go on the bus. That I didn’t appreciate her knocking on my bedroom door at 3am to ask me I would drive her to Seattle for the day.

    And she stole my pillow from my bedroom. It was a huge oversized king pillow. The pillow thing still amazes my spouse and me a decade later. We couldn’t find it and thought we were going insane because how did we lose it? I found it finally, when she left her door open. At that point it had been four months of hell out of a 12 month stint that I didn’t bother with it.

    It ended with her getting kicked out of university and her mother calling me to apologies for her daughter.

    1. Popinki*

      Drive her to Seattle? Boy, I hope you weren’t in Nova Scotia, although that would make the situation even funnier in a way.

          1. Rainy*

            I miss Van. I also just paid devastatingly high shipping for the best acrylic paints on earth. I can’t bear to paint with anything else now. (Kroma, which I used to buy in their shop on Granville Island! And now I spend $21 to get them sent to me! Augh.)

    2. XX AAA*

      Growing up my parents had aupairs and most of them were great, but one sticks out in my mind and she was also Mexican. Her parents made good money and she probably grew up with maids. They only had enough money to put the kids through college one at a time. The plan was that she’d spend a year working some easy job like live-in childcare in the States while her brother wrapped up his degree. She’d end the year with money and better English. Yeah, send a spoiled 18yo to a foreign country to cook/clean/drive/care for two little kids, WCGW? And to top it off she smoked in the house. My smoker grandfather died from cancer.

      Most aupairs are from middle class families and get a ton out of the work experience especially language skills. But upper class kids from any country in the world are a hell of a lot of work.

    3. RA in Australia*

      We had a first year student from (rural – relevant!) India arrive one Friday night to the halls of residence. This place only served dinner – breakfast and lunch you were on your own/could use the microwave. So I tossed her a packet of two minute noodles as a snack and she didn’t know how to boil a kettle let alone operate a microwave. Ok then…. Then… she didn’t know how to flush a toilet, or turn the shower taps (someone always did it for her at home, down to running a sink of water for her to wash her hands in). I was thinking she was taking hte piss, but no… it turned out to be true. She had never even hung her own clothes.

      Off to a private home stay for her… she was not going to make it in even a halls of residence :( Why do parents send their kids overseas so incompetent!?!?!

  7. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    I was never an RA – partially because the first time I ever met our dorm’s RA we were in the middle of an all dorm water battle -a completely unauthorized “welcome to campus” event. Student A was pretending to listen to the RA telling us to stop while student B snuck up behind the RA and dumped a bucket of water on him.

    I never saw the RA again, I’m not sure he was actually there the rest of the year.

    Oh yeah, I have been married to student B for 30 years.

  8. L-squared*

    I was an RA for one year. It was a bad setup because I was a sophomore, and my floors were mostly sophomores and juniors.

    I like to think I never abused my power (though I’m sure some residents would disagree). I knew FAR more about what was actually going on than I did things about. In fact, we had an incident where people through lounge furniture out the window and a couch ended up in a tree. I found out who it was the next day, but my boss was on such a rampage and clearly would’ve tried to get the guy expelled, so I never spoke up.

    That said, the worst was our dorm had what we dubbed the “mad pooper”. That person would go to different bathrooms on different floors (both mens and womens) and poop in one of the showers. We never caught that person.

    1. RAinO-Hell-O*

      Like the Bob’s Burger’s episode!!! I can’t believe we didn’t have more poop related scandals in my dorms tbh.

    2. Jennifer*

      What is with college students and moving furniture around?? I had two girls living in my suite who would do stuff like this all the time. One time I woke up to find they’d stolen a mattress from some other dorm and put it up in our shared bathroom.

      1. G. Friday*

        Oh, I could never resist repurposing furniture. One dorm had rid itself of these T-shaped desks with a set of drawers in the middle and room for a chair on either side to sit and write. A few were left behind in the common areas, so I grabbed one, topped it with my twin bed, frame and all, creating storage space underneath for my amp and crates of records.
        Later, I received a set of keys during a summer job and discovered a surplus furniture room in a soon to be demolished dorm. My 7″ records and a row of books now reside on a set of shabby but sturdy shelves I stole 30 years ago.

        1. Zephy*

          Man, and here I thought I was clever pushing two chairs together in the common area to create a “study pod.”

        2. Becky*

          I had an off-campus apartment where the standard setup was to have the bed on top of the dresser (standard 3 drawers high by two drawers wide, flat top) with cinder blocks to act as bed lifts for the feet to give extra support for the bed frame. With two beds and two dressers in small bedroom you could stack the beds as bunkbeds and stack the dressers or stack bed on dresser. Most people preferred the latter arrangement.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Two guys in my halls tried to steal a sofa from one of the pubs in town and carry it back to our hall. From what I understood afterwards from my friend who was on their corridor, they actually got it out of the pub, but didn’t get very far with it. They ended up getting arrested.

          1. Anon4this*

            I recently saw a clip of a parade that was a bunch of older men lounging on motorized Laz E Boys. Made me LOL, and a little envious.

      3. Mr. Shark*

        It was always a free for all in the dorms when I was in college. Everyone was changing their room from the standard format, whether shoving beds together with milk crates under the second mattress if there was only one person in the room, or creating bunk beds, or t-shaped beds, to better utilize what little room there was and have more room for partying — uh, I mean, studying.

        1. MM*

          My roommate first year went on a feng shui kick and rearranged most of our room. (I didn’t mind except that it made me feel guiltier than I already did about my pile of laundry, which I guess was bad for the energy flows.)

      4. Wolf*

        When I was in undergrad, I belonged to a semi-feral amateur theater company run entirely by other undergrads. We were registered with the university, but pretty much none of the support they claimed they would offer student organizations ever materialized. We had no money but we were DETERMINED to put on productions of mostly-public-domain plays like The Importance of Being Earnest, etc.

        At one point we stole an ancient, sagging sofa from the back hallway of one campus building and carried it down the street to the building where we were performing later than week (we needed a living room set for whatever show we were doing). The building had double doors, but they were separated down the middle by a metal bar – plus the building was more than 150 years old and had worn stone steps you had to navigate up from ground level, through multiple sets of doors that we had to rotate the sofa around like a Tetris piece. We had made it through one set of doors and were working on the second when a janitor came around the corner and stopped dead in the central hallway. I vividly remember thinking, in the space of half a second, that 1) we were busted but 2) there was no point in stopping now, because the sofa had to make it to one end of the staircase or the other. So we spent another several minutes wrestling this gosh darn sofa through a doorway not designed to admit sofas. The janitor stood still and watched. Once we were safely on the other side, with no damage to student, sofa, or stairway, he applauded and wheeled off down the hallway with his janitor’s card. No one ever said a word to us about the sofa theft. The play was a success.

    3. DEJ*

      Oh the pooper story brings back memories of the year we had a person who was clearly squatting when they used the restroom. They would leave urine all over one toilet, and if it was the weekend and the cleaners didn’t come as often, they would then do it to a second toilet putting two of five toilets down for the floor until the cleaners came by again.

      1. Salymander*

        My housemate had his girlfriend and her friend stay overnight once. They were all really drunk. The girlfriend’s friend woke up and stumbled down the hall past me and two of my housemates as we chatted in the hall. She wandered into my house mate’s room and we all looked at each other, puzzled about what she was doing, until we heard the unmistakable sound of someone peeing on the carpet. My housemate whose room it was was completely freaked out, while our other housemate and I tried not to giggle. The security/maintenance guy had to get some kind of super expensive hazmat kit to use on the pee puddle, and the next couple of months were spent listening to my housemate with the peeing friend arguing with the housemate whose room was defiled (peefiled?) about who should pay the bill for the hazmat kit. Defiled Room guy was so freaked out that he spent the night on my floor. We all started keeping the doors to our rooms shut and locked after that, just in case.

        1. higheredrefugee*

          I lived in an all women’s dorm, and we had a girl on my floor that I went t high school with whose boyfriend couldn’t be bothered to go downstairs to the first floor and after he was caught in our restroom, he started to pee in our kichen sink. When he got busted for that, he started to pee out her window, and then they arrested him for exposing himself. It was so gross, and she ended marrying the guy as a sophomore, even though several friends we had in common tried to talk her out of it. They were already divorced at our 5 year high school reunion.

          1. Salymander*

            Oh wow that is bad! At least the Pee Girl at my dorm did her feed unintentionally. She was so drunk that she turned right into the room instead of left into the bathroom, and then got confused by the lack of toilets and just dropped trou in the middle of the room. She must have been pretty embarrassed because she never made eye contact, spoke to us or acknowledged us in any way after that. It was rude I guess, but at least she knew she had done wrong. Your dorm mate’s peeing boyfriend (ex husband! Egads!) is on a whole other level of grossness.

      2. SeluciaMD*

        I mean, that is totally gross, but had no one heard of clorox? Were people incapable of spraying the whole bowl with some bleach or cleaner and wiping it down rather than leaving it out of commission for two days? Maybe it’s because of the jobs I had in high school and college – one in a restaurant and one in retail – where cleaning the (public) bathrooms were part of the rotating duties for staff but I would not have waited for the cleaners. I would have been freaking angry – and I probably would have been on the hunt to identify the perpetrator – but I would not have let them make two bathrooms unusable for multiple weekends.

        1. RA in Australia*

          Yeah. I’d just get in there and clean it. And when I worked out who did it I’d hand them a spray bottle of cleaner and something to wipe and say “if you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie, wipe the seatie” in the most sugary voice. If that didn’t fix it I’d bang on their door the next time with the spray bottle and wipe loudly and say “Your turn to clean up – your mess, you clean it” because I’d been nice once.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Hahaha my college had a mass dorm lounge furniture defenestration too… you didn’t happen to go to school in rural Indiana, did you?

      1. RA in Australia*

        Pooping in public toilets is a ‘thing’ associated with a very specific few types of emotional/mental discordance. It’s not a sign of fun, it’s firmly in the “this person has issues” camp. It’s a whole genre of pscyh.

    5. Let me be dark and twisty*

      My college had a pooper too!

      Ended up being a group of guys who used to dare each other to do it when they were drunk. (And once their identities were found out, they were forced to volunteer with the housekeeping/facilities staff for a couple of days and apologize.)

      1. kicking_k*

        Worst thing that ever happened in our staircase shower (one shower between 12! I think they don’t make them rough it like that any more) was mud. Lots and lots of mud. We had a rugby player.

    6. Alice*

      I also had a mad pooper, except slightly worse because they pooped in the waste paper basket in one of the rooms. Just once, not a serial thing, but yk. Not something you want going on in your dorm. I was very suspicious of one of the girls in the room, who had been complaining that she wanted a single room, and did in fact get one after the incident. Never found out for sure.

      1. Iyana*

        My freshman year RA broke the dorm’s microwave and electric kettle simultaneously by trying to heat water in the electric kettle in the microwave… that was the point when we realized most of the residents had more common sense than our RA. Neither device was replaced all year.

    7. WWC alum*

      Wait, were you at Warren Wilson College?? I can’t remember anything with a couch, but I feel like I remember a pooping spree like this and I’m almost sure we called it the same thing

    8. Shiba Dad*

      My dorm room was on the ground floor near the stairwell and a door to the outside. One time someone took a dump in the stairwell on a weekend. Poop was there until Monday morning.

    9. quill*

      Threw a COUCH out the window? That certainly one ups my thesis buddy who came to one 8am meeting complaining about his floor Mattress jousting.

      (Yes, it’s exactly what you think. You stand at opposite ends of the floor hallway, hoist your mattress in front of you, and run full tilt at each other. The hall is 1 foot wider than a twin mattress. RIP to anyone who opens their door or leaves the bathroom during joust, to at least one water fountain, to the floor bulletin board…)

      1. Le Sigh*

        I attended a school well known for its sports teams. Which on many occasions resulted in dorm furniture tossed out the window or set on fire in celebration (or anger). It probably says something that I didn’t even bat an eye at the couch out the window.

        Mattress jousting sounds kind of fun though, tbh.

        1. A Library Person*

          Oooh I’m at a school down the street from a school notorious for that type of thing. I always said, oh, the couches are on fire, wonder if they won or lost?

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            50-50 on that, historically. They’ve been pretty good of late though, so more celebratory.

      2. Salymander*

        Quill, you once again caused me to snort tea all over myself. I hope you’re proud of yourself. *giggles*

    10. Golden*

      Does every school have a mad pooper?! Our’s would roll it into balls and leave it on the floor, or use it to smear hate symbols on the walls.

    11. Fabulous*

      OMG I totally forgot about our dorm’s phantom pooper!! We had someone who pooped in the stairwells – more than once!

      1. Splendid Colors*

        My apartment complex gets that now, and at one point we had people pooping in the laundry equipment.

    12. Rainy*

      We had a mad pooper–we’re almost certain it was a guy, but whoever it was would sneak onto the women’s floors and put a giant turd in the soap niche in one of the women’s showers, where people would be most likely to touch it unawares. We never found out who was doing it but it went on for months and then abruptly stopped.

      And of course, one of the mad pooper’s last victims was the germophobe girl, who was so terrified of dirt that she once dropped her bar of super-expensive soap that her parents sent her from overseas onto the floor of the shower and then threw it away because it was unusable. She ended up touching the poop when she put her expensive soap in its little sanitary dish into the soap niche, and she freaked out so hard I thought she was never going to freak back in again.

      (She was in med school, I don’t know how anyone thought that was going to work.)

      1. Hazel*

        I have a germaphobe friend who got MORE germ phobic because of what she learned in medical school!

    13. Former RA & Building Manager*

      As an RA, we definitely knew a lot more than we let on. The head Res Life always stressed to consider the difference between the letter of the law (what the rule actually says) and the spirit of the law (what is this rule actually trying to accomplish?). To this day I still use it that mindset a lot. Our dorms were alcohol free, but I knew of plenty of times where my residents had alcohol. If there was a loud party that was disturbing the rest of the hall, yeah, I’d bust that. But there were plenty of times where a door opened at the wrong time, or I saw someone emptying their trash/recycling, or just other unfortunately timed instances. If they were quiet and chill, I’d wave them off and tell them to not let me hear it.

      The worst I ever felt was doing a round with a potential RA (applicants could sign up a join a round to see if they were interested), and I was explaining basically the above – I don’t do write ups unless they’re being jerks about it, when our Campus Safety joined us (they did regular patrols too, we happened to bump into each other). It was a relatively quiet night, we were all talking about crazy stuff we’ve seen, when one of the officers stops and starts sniffing like a bloodhound. He goes over to one room and knocks – a girl opens the door (she was expecting her friend to come by), and lo and behold, there’s like 4 people sitting around with glasses of wine. One of them spilled a bit on the floor and Officer Bloodhound was able to pick up the scent and I had to write them up. That always bothered me – it was just a couple of friends, quietly hanging out on a Saturday (they were in their PJs!), talking and having a glass of wine. They could have been out causing a ruckus. But nope, they were 20 and in a dorm. That just sucked.

    14. Esmeralda*

      Not a dorm…my parent was a high school principal. He dealt with a Mad Crapper — a student who pooped on teachers’ desks. Figured it out by comparing the list of crapees to student schedules. Kid was expelled. Went on to become the front man in a well known punk band.

  9. BritSouthAfricanAmericanHybrid*

    I grew up in South Africa and went to boarding school for most of my high school years. At one point the school bought a rambling house on the property next to the school and voluntold 8 of us girls that we were moving there, and that I was in charge. Oh my word. I was 17, the others were 13 or 14. Trying to get them to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, to not take each other’s items, to ensure they were getting up in the morning for school, it was a nightmare! After three months the school decided the experiment was over and moved us back into the main boarding areas. They gave the house to our nurse/boarding school director – she had 6 kids and needed the space. She was also completely blotto drunk by 2pm every day, but that’s another story…

    1. BritSouthAfricanAmericanHybrid*

      Meant to add – this school was rural (actually near a lion park north of Johannesburg). One night I heard a scream from one of the girls – went to the room and there was a HUGE huntsman spider. Normally they are passive, but this one was on the rampage and any time one of us tried to get close would raise itself and present its fangs. Finally I had one of the braver girls stand in front of it, and I came from behind with a bowl and some cardboard – scooped the thing into the bowl, covered it and ran it outside. I think I threw the bowl away after that.

      We were all trained in snake identification in school, and it was the one thing we all took fairly seriously (or as seriously as teens take anything), and one day we had to call the biology teacher to come and get a cobra out of one of the bathrooms. I think it was at that point the school decided it was not a good idea to have a group of teens living by themselves!

      1. Auntie Pru*

        A cobra.
        That beats the bats & pigeons that came down the seldom-used chimney in my Victorian gothic dormitory.
        I myself was not brave enough to sign up to be the RA, not after a previous year’s RA had negotiate a resolution between a nudist and other residents who shared the same hallway & bathroom. (Minimum skin coverage for public areas was apparently defined in terms of Speedos and bikinis.)

      2. KoiFeeder*

        I mean, if you had to pick a venomous snake to show up in your bathroom, is a cobra the worst of your options? In my (very limited) experience they’d rather scare humans off than bite them… Unless they’re spitting cobras.

        (And how I wish americans were trained in snake identification in school. People really will just go out there and call a hognose a puff adder. It’s not even the right continent!)

      3. Killer Queen*

        Having a ridiculous irrational fear of spiders I would be more scared of the huntsman lol. I spent 18 months in Australia and met a few and I am NOT A FAN and the idea of a vicious one raising and presenting it’s fangs is giving me goosebumps and making me nervous and so glad I’m living in Idaho where it’s too cold to have spiders that big haha.

        Although a freaking cobra??? That’s super dodgy.

  10. Jennifer*

    The most memorable student that I ever dealt with was “Beth,” who was a hard-partying graphic design major. Beth was constantly in trouble and constantly wriggling out of it. She lost more sets of keys than I could count, threw parties every weekend she wasn’t attending other people’s parties, and often hitched rides home with the police even though she was clearly intoxicated or on drugs. She was finally arrested after streaking naked through the dorm, high on PCP, and it took 4 (grown, male) police officers to tackle her and take her down. Incredibly, this was not what led to her getting kicked out of the dorm. She was kicked out of student housing after day drinking and “Donald Ducking” (aka nude from the waist down) through the lobby, in full view of a traumatized cluster of high school students there for a tour. After Facebook stalking her for a bit, I have found out that Beth never graduated and is now a stay-at-home mom.

    1. KateM*

      I can imagine that grown female police officers would maybe have had easier time, because male ones may keep themselves back from feeling icky when tackling a naked woman four men at a time.

    2. Mrs. Badcrumble*

      Back in the day in northwest Ohio, it was “Porky Pigging”. Guessing they’re more Warner Bros. up that way.

        1. Princesss Sparklepony*

          Now I’m thinking about just how many cartoon characters don’t wear pants. Way too many!

  11. jojobee*

    I was an RA sophomore year of college. Here’s a quick bullet list of highlights from that year:

    – mediating a fight between 2 roomies in a quad (4p suite) because one wore makeup and the other one was a tomboy. Wish I were joking about that.

    – getting up at 3am and having to shop vac two stairwells from top to bottom (10 floor dorm) because drunk students emptied ALL the building’s fire extinguishers in them

    – being woken up at 2am by a room full of drunk students making margaritas; the blender was LOUD. Spent the rest of the morning doing write-ups and clearing alcohol out of their room since it was a dry campus.

    – delivering Hustlers and Playboys into various mailboxes because we had to sort all incoming mail (they might have been wrapped innocuously, but I knew what they were)

    – encountering various blow up dolls and “personal massagers” when doing room checks

    – cleaning up condom wrappers in the hallways

    – scrubbing spoiled milk out of a hallway carpet because someone dropped a jug on the way to the garbage

    – mediating laundry room arguments because someone moved someone else’s clothes so they could use the machine

    – calling an ambulance on a student with alcohol poisoning who rolled out of bed and hit his head. He also emptied his contents alllll over his room, so I spent hours cleaning that up, too.

    – The most amusing: doing night rounds and hearing all of the amorous activities occurring in various rooms as I passed by. Technically opposite gender overnight guests weren’t allowed, but I pretended I heard and saw nothing.

    1. Wendy City*

      The last bullet makes you an absolute legend, and I thank you as a former college student trying to hook up with her boyfriend in a strict-gender-curfew dorm.

      My freshman RA was the most strict (she would knock 15 minutes beforehand if she heard *any* male voices to let us know about the curfew and that she’d be back in 15 minutes) but every RA I had, all 4 years of living on campus, was an absolute stickler for curfews. It added a layer of subterfuge that, in retrospect, probably elevated the romance of it all, but it was so awful to have to sneak around.

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        My mother once got someone expelled when she was a prefect in her boarding school. In her defence, she did try to warn the guy that if he kept sneaking in to shag his girlfriend in a multi-student occupancy room she’d have to tell the teachers, but the message didn’t get through…

        (She apologised 30 something years later)

        1. Peachtree*

          Honestly? If it’s a multi-bed dorm and a couple keeps having sex in there (either when you’re there and it’s icky, or when you’re not there but you can’t enter because they’re having sex) … I’d probably snitch too.

          1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            Oh, the room was full. I think she said once there were younger students in there as well.

            1. Iris Eyes*

              Yeah I’m not thinking she owed an apology. People have a right not to witness other people’s amorous activities more than people have a right to such amorous activities especially if any or all of the parties are underage.

      1. Rainy*

        I’m pretty sure these days they’re a lot more careful about that stuff. I have a pal who at 14 did move-out cleans for the apartment complex her family lived in, for grocery money, and at least once the management sent her to clean up the aftermath of a terrible crime like it was no big deal. These days you’d have to get a licensed crew with special suits and decontamination solvents and such. Back then, you just handed a 14 year old a sponge and told her to get on with it.

    2. Le Sigh*

      I was a broke-ass college student forever working multiple jobs to try to pay for tuition/boarding, food, books, etc., and I still never did the RA thing b/c I saw what my freshman year RA dealt with. My hats off to you.

      My dorm was mixed gender (thought segregated by floor), but I don’t think we had a curfew. If we did I don’t recall any RAs caring, which I appreciate because I always found that sort of thing a bit much.

    3. ADHSquirrelWhat*

      oh dear gods, the mail. I wasn’t an RA, but I worked in the mailroom and over the summer we had to sort the mail into “forward to student” and “trash” – bulk rate can’t be forwarded, IIRC.

      we started playing “guess the sex toy catalogue” in the bulk rate to see what the percentages were .. we never checked who it was TO, just how much XXX type stuff we got in a shift. and .. some educations I wasn’t there for!

  12. RAinO-Hell-O*

    I was an RA for the upperclass (juniors and seniors only) honors program dorm, which also happened to be the smallest and oldest dorm building. Given the population, the group was fairly quiet, and the biggest problem we were likely to have was smelling pot coming from under somebody’s door. (My response: please just put a damp towel down, I don’t care but I don’t want to get in trouble.)

    There were two incidents that genuinely kinda fucked with my head and made me realize just how terrible it was that somehow we (20-22 year olds) were expected to protect and police people our age for $700 a month (no discount on tuition or room and board):

    1) I got a phone call from the other RA in the building telling me the cops had been called because a male student had snuck into the building and hidden in the closet of a female resident, bursting out when she came back from the shower and immediately fleeing the building when she started screaming and throwing stuff at him. Turns out he was her exboyfriend and had been stalking her!

    2) Because our building was so small we shared duties with another small dorm across the street which was mostly international students, but also had about 30% random underclassmen. At one point one of the male residents who was running for student government started posting campaign materials around the building, including posters that were very overtly xenophobic and “America for Americans”. This was rural Ohio in 2006-ish, and again, it was in the dorm for international students!! I lost my shit and started reporting him to EVERYONE, only to have the Resident Directors of both buildings (one of whom was an international [but white] grad student) tell me that we had to “allow debate” and couldn’t “suppress the democratic process”, despite the fact that multiple residents, mostly young Asian and African women, reported feeling unsafe living in the building after the posters went up and especially after seeing how many of the white American men in the building agreed and cheered for this attitude.

    I absolutely did not get paid enough for that shit.

    1. Lch*

      :-o oh no

      Really wonder if this is the rural OH uni I worked at. It had a ton of international students.

      1. RAinO-Hell-O*

        I’m not sure if “a ton” is right (truly not certain of the total demographics) but if it ever earned a nickname from a preppy clothing company, probably the same place.

          1. Theo*

            and I see you both waking me up with those same bagpipes my very first morning! (secretly I miss them hugely.)

              1. Lizzo*

                Final confirmation that we’re talking about the same institution: how do you feel about Tootsie Rolls? And what was your button number?

      1. Cat Lover*

        Me too!

        I was an Assistant Residence Director there for a year (a few years back). I went to UG and Grad school there.

    2. cubone*

      I got free room + board (no pay), which was definitely more than $700 a month, so it felt a bit more worth it to me. But! I absolutely think being an RA is a truly wild job with no equivalent – part peer mentor/counsellor/event planner/security guard. I feel like 90% of the skills I have now were born and bred in that time.

      1. RAinO-Hell-O*

        At the same time as I was an RA, I was also doing student teaching and wrapping up my education degree and there’s a LOT of skill overlap between teaching high schoolers and being an RA. Now in my corporate day job when people are impressed with my ability to deal with disgreement or speak to a large/important group of people, I always point to the years of managing 70 13-year-olds and 100 college students. Nothing is as stressful as that!

      1. OnlyPositronVibes*

        I think I was an RA in the building across the street at the same university, around the same era! I was an RA for one of the international floors.

        Thankfully there were very few issues in those two dorms! I had to stop some honors students from throwing water balloons at sorority girls one night (“Yes, they are annoying and spoiled and rude, but we don’t throw water balloons at people in the winter, it’s not nice”). And one of my girls kept getting harassing calls from a guy, so I told her to bring me the phone next time he called. I had the Do Not Call Again Or There Will Be Consequences talk, as well as the When She Says No She Means It chat with him, and he never called again! I was older than most students (24 to their 18-21), but I think the age gap helped. The pay was crap but I loved it!

        Incidentally, the only complaint I ever got at that job was from another RA who thought my boyfriend came over too much!

              1. Cat Lover*

                Whoa! Well hello!!

                I went to school there recently however, campus sure does look different.

              2. Lizabeth*

                Tappan, Minnich, Wells and Ogden here…in the late 70’s. Fisher Hall was just a ruin waiting to be restored. I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize it today.

                Buckhorn anyone?

                1. RAinO-Hell-O*

                  Tappan was where I lived freshman year! The campus really has changed so much in the 15+ (had to do the math) years since I graduated, I can’t imagine how different it is from the late 70s. Fisher is absolutely lovely now, though it has been very weird to watch Miami claim all of the Freedom Summer activities that happened at Western College and had nothing to do with Miami.

                2. RAinO-Hell-O*

                  I should say, what replaced Fisher Hall is lovely. I didn’t realize Marcum Center was a whole new building!

              3. OnlyPositronVibes*

                Ahaha I knew it! I was an RA in Wells. Small world! I remember sitting in the mandatory RA class hearing horror stories about the sports dorms and being so grateful that the only thing I had to worry about were water balloons and my bulletin board theme!

                1. RAinO-Hell-O*

                  Hello fellow RA survivor!!! Wells did have its own wildness, almost all at the hands of a small group of male freshmen who liked to push boundaries. Some of it was pretty harmless, but there was a rumor that one room got caught with a very large pet snake, which I honestly believe lol.

        1. RAinO-Hell-O*

          I truly loved the job so much and I think it gave me a lot of skills that I use to this day. Living in Bishop for two years definitely shaped a lot of my life and relationships in college, I think for the better. And I know RAs got a better deal after I graduated, but much like grad students/TAs I think all employees at a university but in particular student employees do not get paid what they deserve for the amount of work they put in!

        1. Cat Lover*

          I really enjoyed it but I went there for one sport so I wasn’t really involved in much else besides that, my major, and my sorority. I was a student during the 2016 election, so you can imagine how that went, lol.

    3. Gumby*

      Speaking of being given responsibility we were not entirely ready for:

      I was the financial manager for a self-op house in college. Meaning the university took care of cleaning the common areas but we hired our own chef and did the kitchen cleaning and food-buying. The way the student house staff positions worked, your term started 3rd quarter of one year and then for the first two quarters of the following academic year. This way the outgoing staff was on site to help new staff learn the jobs. So at the end of my sophomore year, I went with the previous financial manager to the guy who did all of the contracts for various self-ops. At that meeting I did read the contract but basically ascertained that it was pretty standard and matched what most other self-ops used so said to keep it the same for the next year with a small annual increase (the percentage recommended by the lawyer because I was 20 and had no clue!). I liked our chef – I found him easy to work with and liked his food.

      The financial manager after me *hated* our chef. I am not sure why but apparently he cooked the same meals too often? Or maybe she didn’t like the lunches? In any case, she started asking for a lot of changes, which he accommodated as well as he could within the food budget he had, but there were also yelling fights at some point. It was clear he was not going to be working at the house the following year. So he took his contract to his own lawyer. It turns out? The contract gave him 5 sick days “per term” – which had (I am 99% sure) always been interpreted as per contracted year. But it wasn’t defined. So when firing him the new financial manager had to pay out 15 days of unused sick time. I was called into several meetings with the university housing service people about the topic as if *I* had chosen the language – no, that was the lawyer that the university provided, and it matched what other contracts said, and it matched what the previous year’s contract said. Yes, I signed the contract, but it’s not like I went off on my own and wrote up crazy conditions. I was so stressed about it and the new financial manager wanted to blame me for this whole mess. But really? *I* am not the one who so annoyed someone that they went looking for any possible loophole. In the same situation today? Or just 5 or so years later? I would have been much better prepared to handle the multiple interrogation-like meetings that I was subjected to on the topic. At the time? I was not great about standing up for myself.

      (And it sounds silly to say this since I don’t think it’s that interesting of a story, but please don’t use this elsewhere as it would be identifying for anyone who was part of the situation.)

  13. (Former) HR Expat*

    Oh, the stories I have….
    -The person who started a fire in the common area stove/oven because they cooked minute rice for 45 minutes with only a hint of water.
    -The group who decided it would be a good idea to microwave a live goldfish
    -Finding a group of kids putting laundry detergent in the fountain outside our residence hall
    -The other (under 21) RA in my building having a raging party with alcohol, candles, and drugs while I was on duty. And finding the on-duty security people in the room too.
    -The student who liked to walk around the hallways naked at all ours of the day
    -Resident prank wars that started with stuffed animals in compromising positions and ended with someone’s personal belongings in the ravine.

    1. fullaboti*

      Oh my goodness!

      Now I don’t know who is worse the residents who microwaved a live goldfish or the residents in my dorm who gave a fish mountain dew to see what would happen. (Probably the microwave.)

    2. Auntie Pru*

      If the 4-story flight of a stuffed animal was the reason the roof got locked, I don’t have to worry about there being 2 dorms like mine.

    3. Starlike*

      They eventually had to remove the “water feature” at my university shortly after I graduated because people were *constantly* putting in laundry detergent, and once koolaid. In fairness, it did look really cool all bubbly…

      1. Loredena*

        There is a house with a dolphin fountain near my parents home. The previous owner added soap every winter. It was very popular!

  14. Former RA & Building Manager*

    MY PEOPLE! Oh man, I was in Res Life for 7/8 semesters in undergrad, going from a trainee RA all the way up to a Building Manager (managing a team of 3-4 RAs). On top of that, I worked as an administrative assistant/reception at the Res Life office for a couple of hours a week for years. Honestly, it was some of the best times of my life and also the most stressful.

    I will say it gave me a lot of practice and training on how to work and behave in a professional setting – my jobs up until then had been retail and in a theatre, not in an office, so it was a good place to learn office norms. That said, there was also A LOT of dysfunction that would appall me now if it were happening in my office.

    I managed a team of 3-4 RAs for a year and a half. It’s an incredibly weird experience to be their manager, dictate their schedule, give performance related reviews, have regular 1-1s, when your staff is only a year or two younger than you and you don’t have actual authority. For clarification, I don’t think a couple years age difference between manager and employee is a big difference in a regular work setting, but it did feel *weird* then. Also – boundaries weren’t a thing. When I was explaining my role to them, that my focus would be making sure they had the tools and resources to do their job, one jokingly quipped “so you’re like our mom?” Aaaaaaand they all called me Mom for the rest of the year. I would absolutely hate it now and be creeped out by it if someone I managed at work now thought that was a good idea, but honestly… I loved it then.

    Res life training was 2 weeks (3 if you were a building manager) before the fall term started, and that got… intense. One aspect of being an RA is you’re supposed to be able to mediate conflicts between roommates and floormates, so we had an “expert” come in every year to leave a mediation workshop. You’re also likely to deal with some heavy stuff, like drug issues, family issues, mental health issues. I will say, a lot of it was incredibly useful and there’s still stuff to this day that I use when trying to mediate problems. But during the session, we were placed in groups of 5-6, and basically told to tell the group a problem we were facing, and let everyone mediate and learn to listen and try to help. It got IMMENSELY personal – lots of mental health problems discussed, family conflicts, racism/sexism issues they were facing. There was at least one person per group who would end up crying while talking about their problems. This happened every year, and regulars jokingly called it the Res Life Group Therapy session. Looking back, I’m kinda horrified at it.

    Of course I have the stories of dealing with partying and drunk escapades and all that lovely annoying stuff. But wow, this is making a whole lot of stuff flood back to me and making me realize how dysfunctional a lot of this was. I’m also really curious about stories from professional res lifers on college campuses.

    1. londonedit*

      Wow! This is all mindblowing to me because we didn’t have anything like this when I was at university (UK). Most people only live in university-owned halls for the first year, then you’re out on your own – in towns with a big student population there will be landlords who specifically rent to students (usually in a house-of-multiple-occupancy situation where students rent individual rooms from one landlord, but sometimes in a situation where a group of students will have the whole lease on a house) or in places like London, where I went to uni, you’re usually just out there renting on the open market (though very much at the lower end in terms of standards of accommodation!) I *think* there may have been some arrangement at my uni where if you were a postgrad student then you could go back and live in halls in exchange for doing some sort of vague supervision of the first-years, but I don’t remember having anyone like that in my halls of residence. There was a security bloke and a front-desk staff member (not a student as far as I can recall) who would be the ones to hammer on the door to your flat if you were playing loud music (our rooms were arranged in corridors or ‘flats’ with 7 single rooms to a corridor and a communal kitchen) and put up notices about everyone being fined if one more person summoned the London Fire Brigade with their drunken attempts to make toast at 4am, but there was nothing like you describe.

      1. Hobbling Up A Hill*

        Yeah, I am utterly baffled at the entire concept of RA’s. These students are adults who are paying for the privilege of being there but they’re not allowed to have guests, alcohol, they’re subject to room checks etc etc.

        My only policies with uni housemates was 1. overnight guests need to wear clothes in the common areas and 2. if a guest uses someone else’s food/drink, the person who invited them is responsible for buying more.

        I admit, I did feel a bit more like an adult that some of my housemates, especially in first year, but that might have been because I had to repeatedly explain that no, I could not mix strong painkillers with alcohol unless I wanted to go to the hospital and also I was the only one who knew how to cook.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I suppose that the fact that in the USA the legal age to buy / drink alcohol is 21 not 18 makes a difference – presumably there are lots of university students who are not yet legal adults in that regard . I am not sure what legal responsibility the university has in relation to 18-21 years old students in the u? Is alcohol the only thing they are not yet considered to be adults for, or are they still seen as minors for other situations as well?

          I was in a hall of residence in my first year at university and we didn’t have any one in an RA style role.
          We had a couple of security guys on the front door, and strictly speaking they were only supposed to unlock the door once and hour, after midnight, although if you were polite to them they’d open it whenever you rolled in.

          As far as I recall, we had to sign in guests, for fire safety purposes . I *think* there was still technically a rule that if you were on one of the all-female floors you weren’t supposed to have male guests after 11p.m. / overnight, but it wasn’t policed or enforced in any way, and I think it was a rule they hadn’t got around to revoking, from when they first allowed women into the block.

          1. londonedit*

            I remember signing in guests with the front desk for fire safety reasons too, and I think there was a rule about guests not being able to stay more than a certain number of nights in a row (presumably to prevent people moving their boyfriends/girlfriends in on a permanent basis or taking the piss with cheap accommodation for whoever wanted it) but generally as long as you weren’t causing actual damage to the property or setting the fire alarms off then no one cared what you were doing.

            1. Callum*

              That’s pretty much exactly how it works at most US universities too. Except I don’t think its common here to have to sign in guest.

            2. Bagpuss*

              Yes, I think that there may have been a limit on the number of consecutive nights someone could stay with the same person, but I have no idea whether it was ever checked or enforced. I suspect it would only have been invoked if other residents complained.

              I don’t recall our hall being particularly rowdy – the most subversive thing I recall was the time that the one person who actually had a TV licence would up with about 40 tvs in his room, because an inspector came round to check, and of course most people who had TVs didn’t have their own licence, but did have time to move the set… And of course, if you have a licence, you a can have as many TVs as you like in your own space. I don’t think he had to buy his own drinks for the rest of the term.
              I didn’t have a TV so was simply an amused spectator.

              1. A Library Person*

                As an American I understand enough to find this story quite funny, but I’m also very baffled as you can legally buy an antenna here and pick up whatever comes over the airwaves. When I lived in [large US city] I could watch the Premier League in Spanish for free!

                1. Lower*

                  Haha yes! Speaking of things that are *utterly baffling* buying a licence to use your own tv sounds absolutely nuts!

                2. londonedit*

                  No one will see this, but ‘TV licence’ really is a misnomer. You pay a charge every year that funds the BBC and goes towards the other public broadcasters like Channel 4 and ITV. It means you get all BBC channels on TV and online with no adverts whatsoever, plus all the BBC radio stations, and it helps to fund original programming by the BBC/C4/ITV etc. It’s an archaic term because it’s been a thing ever since TVs were invented, but it’s really just a means of funding the incredible things the BBC do (and the current government is trying to scrap it because they hate the BBC). So if you’re American and you love British TV programmes, be grateful to all of us who are paying our ‘bizarre’ TV licence fees every year.

          2. A Library Person*

            Re: 18 vs 21 in the USA

            There are a few other things that sometimes require you to be older than 18 (like renting a car or hotel room depending on the company), but for legal purposes you’re an adult once you’re 18. It’s actually somewhat controversial as you can join the armed forces at 18 but can’t (legally) drink. That disparity between “you’re old enough to die for your country” and “you’re not old enough to make certain legal decisions” is a massive part of why the voting age got lowered from 21 down to 18 during the Vietnam War era as well. Historically it’s been different for alcohol, too- both of my parents were able to drive to a neighboring state at age 18 to get some kind of part-strength beer in the 60s/70s, but as far as I’m aware that’s no longer the case.

            There are some scenarios where you can be legally treated as an adult at younger ages as well (some kinds of crime or legal emancipation from one’s guardian, for example).

            1. Dawbs*

              You can also join the armed forces before age 18 if your partents sign the paperwork.
              And the majority of u.s. states allow literal child marriage with the signature of parents and/or a judge.

              Effing stupid and being for abuse.

              (I know I’m late in this comment. But these are things to scream at your elected officials about. My niece was done with basic training before she was 18. My sil was divorced from the abusive “husband” her parents sold her to before she was 18.
              Can’t drink or sign a contract but your parents can do it for you is horrifying)

          3. MM*

            It’s some mix of leftover puritanism and extended adolescence (the latter is available mainly but not exclusively to white Americans of a certain class or higher). People here routinely just….do not regard college students as adults. Depending on the situation, the “they’re so young, they didn’t know any better” routine can get extended well into people’s 30s.

            I at least did not have to deal with many rules like this where I went to university (in the US), probably because my school had not yet entered the Prestige ranks it now occupies and so there was less investment in catering to parents and “the student experience” as distinct from, you know, education. The institution as a whole handled its undergrads in a pretty sink-or-swim way at the time. The dorm I lived in was known as the one that was best for independent-minded people who wanted less support and more leeway, though, and I moved out after the first two years.

        2. Callum*

          “not allowed to have guests, alcohol, they’re subject to room checks etc etc.”

          That’s only true at super religious schools. Most universities are not that strict.

          1. Salymander*

            Yeah mine definitely wasn’t. No one cared except if a man tried to stay over at the one dorm on campus with a strict women only policy. Everywhere else was very much anything goes.

          2. Momma bear*

            My daughter attended a U.S. public university which had a strict policy of no alcohol on campus. She and her roommate (both18 and freshmen) went to an off-campus party and had a couple of beers. They waited a few hours before roommate drove them back to campus in the very wee hours. As they were getting out of the car, a campus police officer approached them. He had noticed that one of the car’s headlights was burned out. He used the opportunity to question them if they had been drinking. Both of them admitted that they had but drank nothing in several hours. He wrote them up for alcohol possession because it was still in their bodies (!). They were disciplined and I received a letter from the university to inform me as well as a letter from my daughter, written as part of her punishment, acknowledging it and swearing not to do it again. I asked her why they had admitted the consumption if they were sober. It turns out that if they denied, he could have breathalized the driver on the pretext that maybe he smelled it on her breath (!!). If any showed on the test, they would be considered to have lied which was an even bigger offense under the honor code and possibly expelled. The next year, the girls could not get dorm space. There was a lot of other sketchy stuff at the school like poor academic advising and careless IT assistance which ruined her laptop. I was not too unhappy when she left the school.

            1. Rainy*

              MIP (minor in possession) is often treated as a Very Big Deal in college towns and pretty much nowhere else, I think mostly because a lot of people spend 2-3 *years* in college before they’re legal to drink, and handing down huge fines and honour code violations is seen as the only way to stem the tide of drunken first-years rendering campus ankle-deep in vomit and bad decisions.

              I live in a college town, the college is a big party school, and we’re in a cold climate, so when a party gets busted in the winter here, the cops spend an hour combing the undergrowth and looking inside and under all the parked cars, because drunk kids will flee the party, crawl somewhere to hide, fall asleep because they’re drunk, and could die of exposure.

          3. Siege*

            Yeah, I was going to say. I went to Evergreen and we barely had rules. Oddly, I found that more appealing than the schools my contemporaries went to that had rules but no procedures for enforcing them.

            One of my RAs had a dad who worked at a weigh station. I fondly remember the time the station confiscated some ungodly number of pounds of onions from a truck because the truck was just stupidly over the weight limit. The RA got a fifty pound sack of the onions, gave everyone an onion, and organized a “cooking contest”, which was really just a potluck where you made something with your onion. We made a quiche and enchiladas.

            1. Magc*

              Another Greener grad here, but I arrived the fall after Mount St Helens blew (i.e., long ago) and there were NO rules that I could see (other than don’t get caught doing illegal things). I took a bus cross-country having already shipped boxes via UPS and moved into the modular housing (duplexes) on campus where everyone seemed to already know basic living skills.

              My daughter went in 2014, and it’s changed. There’s still no rules in terms of who can sleep where (other than the usual “no, your BF/GF can’t live for free in your room”), but freshman must have a meal plan even though all student housing is apartments (singles plus common area with kitchen), parents are MUCH more involved in the move-in process, there are lots of rules, and there are indeed RAs.

          4. Nell*

            Absolutely. My college had a lot of “returning students”- people who went to college after the stereotypical 18-21 years old bit. If we were over 21, we could have alcohol in our rooms as long as the under 21 crowd couldn’t get at it (which was nearly universally ignored in practice) and they sold small airplane-sized bottles of wine and beer at the campus store. Funnily enough, weed was still an issue because the school got federal funds that apparently allowed alcohol but not weed.

          5. Person from the Resume*

            I’ve been out ofs school for a while, but while in college dorms we had single sex floors with only one communual bathroom (toilet and shower stalls (and the shower stalls did not supply a lot of privacy)) on the floor for the gender of the residents of that floor. And most dorm rooms had two students.

            I think it’s a good idea to have a rule about no overnight guests (of any gender) when you’re sharing a small room with a roommate.

          6. Blueberry Girl*

            Yeah, mine was 100% not that strict at all. As long as you were legal drinking age (21), you were 100% allowed to have alcohol in your room as long as you weren’t disruptive. Room checks were mostly looking for candles which were a fire hazard and not allowed.

        3. Becky*

          RA’s can be helpful when a student is living away from home for the first time/navigating the adult world for the first time. Though, to be honest, even living in the same unit as the RA my freshmen year I never went to her for anything though I know others in the building did (my on campus residence had apartment style living–so 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom in each unit. The RA got a private room so it was 5 people).

          Other people have mentioned the drinking age in the US. But my campus also had an inspection once a month–which I don’t think is unreasonable; have an inspection in a dorm when you want to make sure there hasn’t been any damage and the building isn’t being destroyed. People living without their parents for the first time can be pretty irresponsible or reckless from the stories on here. Makes it easier to nip damage in the bud or get fixes done before the end of the year and everyone moves out and it becomes a big finger-pointing session.

        4. Jackalope*

          Some of it is that in a dorm you might have hundreds of students staying in a fairly small space with shared rooms, shared bathrooms, shared kitchens, shared lounges…. There’s a lot of courtesy that everyone needs to extend to everyone else, and it’s helpful to have someone who’s in charge of making sure that happens. And I will 100% fight for the acknowledgement of college students as adults and not kids, BUT for many college students living in the dorm it’s the first time they’ve ever lived somewhere that’s not with their families, and a lot of people just don’t know how to do communal living. (And to be honest, for many people college is the only time in their life when they live in a communal situation like that.)

          At my college a lot of it was based on not being a jerk. For example, we were officially a dry campus, but most RAs would only write you up if you were being obnoxious (loud drunken parties waking your neighbors). You could have overnight guests for a certain # of days (not too long since they didn’t want nonstudent or I paying residents), but it had to be okay with your roommate. Things like that. Which I honestly really appreciated. It’s one thing to have your partner over at all hours, for example, if you’re living alone or have your own room. It’s another thing entirely to have your partner stay in your dorm room that you share with someone, maybe a stranger that you just met at the beginning of the year, where said roommate has to deal with the possibility of you being intimate together at times that they might want or need to be in the room, or, if your partner is the opposite sex, random dorm mates might stumble into the bathroom at 3 am in states of undress and see your partner in there too. Some people won’t care, but others will, and it’s a lot to ask someone who’s 18 and never dealt with this to set boundaries around something like that by themselves.

        5. Summer*

          Same, though I attended university in Washington DC in the late 90s-early 00s. While we had an RA we didn’t have curfews or room checks or anything like that. Hell we could have overnight opposite-gender guests whenever we wanted. My boyfriend would come and visit for a weekend and stay in my dorm room and, when I lived in a suite my sophomore year, a friend’s boyfriend practically did too. Starting from fall of freshman year we could come and go at all hours and no one ever checked our rooms or snooped for stuff. Maybe it was just a more laid back time? I don’t know but I find it wild that curfews are enforced on college kids!

      2. TechWorker*

        I went to uni in the U.K. and we did have an equivalent of RAs – postgrad students getting cheap (/free? Idk) accommodation to live in the same building and make sure the undergrads don’t do anything too crazy. This was smaller halls (maybe 60-100 rooms?) so not big enough to have any kind of reception or security. I don’t think they were expected to do tooo much welfare type stuff but also tbh I don’t think you’d know about that unless you were one of the people who talked to them a lot (I never was!).

        I did get fined once for being part of a group who had a loud drunken conversation on the pavement *outside* the halls, apparently this was loud enough to wake up the RA person (whose room was in the entrance). Was a key part of my decision to move out the following years :p

      3. pandop*

        At my Uni I was in the ‘student village’ (uni owned self-catering accomodation – a mixture of houses and flats), there was one security/facilities office for the whole site. No need to sign anyone in or out of your individual flat.

        Also, being the UK, we had a bar at the village, as well as the ones on campus.

    2. cubone*

      this is really intriguing to read. I seriously considered staying on as a Building Manager, after being a senior RA. I still sort of think about it sometimes, but I enjoy recreational weed too much.

  15. WomEngineer*

    I was also not an RA, but I was a freshman resident when Harambe memes were everywhere. The school did a welcome event to decorate your own chalkboard or whiteboard, and a group from my dorm decided to write “RIP Harambe” or other G-rated messages on theirs. Then they set them up along the windows of one of the common rooms.

    Eventually, the RA’s told everyone to take down our Harambe shrine. I’d love to know what was said at that staff meeting. Anyway, that’s how I met some of my first friends in college… through the 1st floor Harambe shrine.

    1. Dino*

      The other day out of the blue the phrase “dicks out for Harambe” popped into my head. I hadn’t thought about Harambe in yeeeears. What weird times.

  16. Killer of Cockroaches*

    Pretty minor, but I still think of this every time I kill a bug. I was an RA at a southern school. I am from the Northwest. One night, a group of freshman knocked on my door, terrified of this giant cockroach terrorizing their room. I had no experience dealing with cockroaches, but felt obligated to pretend I was much braver and agreed to deal with the situation. I emerged armed with an extremely large book and found the cockroach, which was indeed extremely large and menacing. I slammed the book as hard as I could on the cockroach. It appeared unmoved, and indeed a minute later continued to saunter, to the terror of the students. I repeatedly slammed it with the book. It was only dazed. I next caught the cockroach in a cup and dumped it in the toilet to flush it down, thinking of all the stories of cockroaches’ hardiness and tenacity to survive. One of the students fearfully asked me if the cockroach would climb up out of the plumbing. I said of course not, but honestly, clearly at this point it was mutant – and I was glad its home was in their room, not mine.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        With many bugs, if you can’t get at/don’t want to use commercial bug killers: Windex and/or hairspray are your friends.

        Oh, and borax mixed into oatmeal works wonders on anthills.

    1. Salymander*

      It was probably one of those outdoor cockroaches that eat decaying plant matter. Those things are huge, and really hard to kill. They wander inside sometimes in search of water, so you probably gave it just what it wanted. Maybe you appeased it so it didn’t come back with all it’s mutant friends?

    2. Rocket Woman*

      I went to a southern school and you are my hero. To this day I hate cockroaches and am terrified of them. One time, in a co-ed dorm, one crawled into the shower while I was using it. I ran into the hall screaming with nothing but a towel on and the guy that lived across the hall kindly killed it for me. I learned that raid and windex are your best friends, and also dump bleach down each drain/sink in your house once a week.

      Also, my RA in that dorm found out I had a toaster (which weren’t allowed) from someone eating a waffle cooked in said toaster. He came knocking with a box of eggos and asked to use it instead of his microwave.

    3. KoiFeeder*

      One time one of my dad’s roommates borrowed one of the hissing cockroaches from the bio lab to prank the RA by telling him they found it in their room.

      RA turned out to be terribly, terribly afraid of insects. Whoops.

      (Hisser was fine and returned to its duties as soon as dad’s roommate found where it had been thrown in the panic. RA’s coffee stash had to be replaced due to being considered forever tainted.)

    4. Not Your Sweetheart*

      Four Bitchin Babes has a song aptly titled “Great Big Bug” It’s both funny and slightly terrifying.

    5. Rainy*

      When I was in grad school, I stayed super late one night in my office to finish something–a stack of marking, an essay, I can’t remember what–and when I was finally able to leave, I needed to pee before walking half a mile to my car and driving home, but I didn’t want to use the washroom at the end of the hall because it was, quite frankly, awful at the best of times (huge horrible door, weird noises, those super low toilets), so I decided to use the big, non-scary washrooms on the first floor. By the time I got down there I really had to go, and when I pushed the door open it turned out the lights had been turned out. I groped around, felt a switch, and flipped it. The lights sprang on, and right in the middle of the tile floor was the biggest fucking cockroach I’ve ever seen. It was a good five inches long, and when I saw it, I made a strangled noise and it sat up on its two back pairs of legs and looked at me. NOPE. I stammered out “Sorry about that”, turned the light off, and left.

      I lived over 40 miles away, and I didn’t even start having to pee again until I was almost home.

    6. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      My senior year my friend and I were in a two-room suite (two singles connected by a bathroom). We had been *extremely* cocky about how we were adults now and didn’t need an RA.
      And then a cockroach showed up.

    7. Anhaga*

      I had a friend–who later became my roommate–who HATED cockroaches and other bugs. We were in college in the late 90s, and she got newspapers every day, and had a big, heavy stack of them waiting to be recycled, probably some 10-15 lbs of newsprint. It was also her cock-roach smashing tool. I’d hear a loud WHUMP from next door, and know that Friend had just buried another cockroach under the Washington Post.

      She’s probably going to recognize herself in this post and correct me on something I misremembered, because I know she reads AMA. :-D

  17. Just Me*

    I wasn’t an RA, but my first year of college my now-fiancee and I went to our first party and our RA handed us both beers, saying “I’m not on duty, so here you go!”

    This same RA once stepped over a student who was passed out in the hallway (student had a severe cold, they weren’t drunk) in order to go to a party. He was a real winner.

    1. Former Gifted Kid*

      My RA during my freshman year went home every single weekend. We never really worried about her catching our shenanigans because she was not there. I think I only had one interaction with her. We were drinking in the common room on a Thursday night (she had not left for the weekend yet) and she caught us. She just told us to go back to our rooms and that was it.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        At my school, that was against the rules. If an RA went home, another provided coverage.

      2. Galadriel's Garden*

        That was my freshman RA as well. It was fine most of the time (especially since I had some periodic clandestine bf overnights when he would come visit from a different college, which was a no-no in the all girls’ dorm), but when I sliced my hand open after breaking my cereal bowl in the sink and needing help on where to go get stitches and she was nowhere to be found…less exciting.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Most of my RAs in college were pretty good, except one. I was on a quiet floor, which has strict noise rules. This was great for those of us who wanted to study, but the girls who lived next door clearly had no desire to be on a quiet floor, & the RA never, ever enforced the rules. Also, they were all good friends.

      Finals week was all quiet for all dorms. The last week of the school year, people move out but try to not make unnecessary noise. While I was still studying for finals, my neighbors moved out. To absolutely blasting music & loud conversation. As did many others. I went to my RA to ask her to enforce the rules for those of us who still had finals. Her response: “I don’t know what you expect me to do about it.” Maybe earn your room & board + stipend subsidized by our fees?

      I move to an over-21 quiet floor the next year. A lot of grad students, & everyone observed quiet hours.

      1. RA in Australia*

        There probably wasn’t much the RA actually could do sadly … they have very limited power, and this person was moving out. They could turn off the music and request quiet but the people moving out probably would just turn it back on. They could ‘confiscate’ the music player, but someone else would just start streaming music again (and not if it’s a phone probably). They could call security, but by the time security comes the people are going to be quiet, or same situation – not a lot can be done. Fines? University issued fine that then stop graduation until the amount is paid is about all they probably have.

        Personally I’d have given them a ‘quiet down’ warning, and then cut power to their room to kill the noise. But there’s not much more you can get away with.

    3. The Original K.*

      My freshman RA told us to have parties either when he was on duty or when one particular friend of his was on duty, because that friend wouldn’t write us up.

      1. Perpetuating the Façade*

        My RAs sophomore and junior year were friends of mine. We pre-gamed, partied, and went out of the country for Spring Break together.

        1. The Original K.*

          My freshman RA and I actually went out a few times when I was a sophomore and he was a senior. We had a class together and became better friends through that, and then went on a few dates but it didn’t really go anywhere. Nice guy though.

          None of the RAs I had would have written us up for partying, to be honest. Vandalism, violence, yes. I can think of one girl who had to go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning (she really couldn’t handle the freedom of college) and I think because that was documented, the RA had to write it up but by and large, the RAs weren’t on power trips, they were just fellow students who wanted or needed free housing.

    4. A Library Person*

      Sophomore year I lived in substance-free housing and it was generally pretty chill even if it wasn’t always substance free. A couple of days before move-out my RA needed to unload some extra beer and I ended up with a nice going-away stash in my room. She was a great RA all around, always very supportive and willing to uphold the rules without being too strict or going out of her way to get people in trouble.

  18. Lissa J*

    When I was an RA, I was on duty one night and walking around my floor. It was a Thursday night so everyone was out, except one girl. I asked her why she wasn’t out with friends and she told me she was grounded. I asked her what she meant. She said her parents grounded her and she’s not allowed to leave her room. (!). Apparently, they call nightly and she needs to answer their call (this was pre-cell phones). She missed a call one night and so she was grounded. They were now going to call her room randomly a few times each night to make sure she was there.

      1. Cori Classen*

        You had a shower pooper too? I was glad platforms were in fashion in my college days because my shower shoes had hefty 2 inch soles that kept me above the muck lol

    1. cubone*

      oh this reminded me of a story I’d forgot. My building manager called me to check on a student. Apparently she hadn’t spoken to her parents in days and they were really concerned, to the point her mom just showed up to the housing office in hysterics. My manager and I found the student chilling in her room, who just said she got tired of her mom calling her multiple times every day and wanted some independence. I have nooo idea how that one resolved.

      1. Momma bear*

        One of the women in my freshman dorm had a boyfriend from home that her parents hated. Of course, he was in the dorm or she was with him every opportunity the could find and her parents were furious. She had appendicitis and was at home to recover for a couple of weeks. Things got so bad with the parents while she was home that she was only back in the dorm a few days before she and boyfriend ran off to the nearest state where they could get married without blood tests ore waiting. She gleefully moved her thing out of the dorm and into his car.

      2. Susan Ivanova*

        My paternal DNA contributor decided to Look Good for the divorce lawyers and called me for the first time in the two years I’d been at college, on a weekend when I wasn’t at my dorm. I found out when I got back and the RA lectured me for “not telling my dad where I was and making him worry.”

        Many many years later I found out about FERPA (which did exist at the time), which means that the RA should not have told him *anything*. She should’ve known that, it was her job.

      3. Lisa*

        That’s as good as my freshman roommate not answering a late night call from her father (pre-cell phones). He showed up a few hours later. She also blamed me for not covering for her. I have no idea what I could have possibly done to cover for her when her father called and she was not in the room.

        Backstory here being that she liked men. Lots of men and was, as usual, spending the night elsewhere. We called her the Penicillin Princess as she picked up a communicable disease by the end of the school year.

    2. Bagpuss*

      they’d have struggled in my hall of residence. There was one payphone at the end of each corridor, to serve 16 rooms. It was out of order fairly often. It wasn’t particularly loud and there was a door between where the phone was, and the main corridor, so unless someone happened to be passing and answered it, or you were specifically expecting a call and propped the doors open to listen for it, you probably wouldn’t knw if anyone called.

    3. deesse877*

      This is an established abuse tactic, unfortunately. I knew a peer who had it happen to them in college–it eventually escalated to being confined to the family home. But it hasn’t disappeared. These days, they put “life 360” (a tracker) on the student’s family-plan phone, and they can see where the phone is on a map at all times.

      That’s one reason why ppl get so absurd in dorms–some of them really are free for the first time.

      1. DefinitelyNoMinitoring*

        I’m a 49 yo woman. About 5 years ago my dad wanted me to put life 360 on MY phone so he’d know I was safe when I was out of town. I live in my own house, at that time with my 17 year old son.

        I declined. Repeatedly. My sister didn’t. She and her family live in a different state. Mom and dad watched them drive in so they could see when they’d get there. Safely.

    4. JustaTech*

      One of my freshmen suitemates got grounded for spring break because she wasn’t making a 4.0 anymore. With some schools this might be a non-bananas thing for a parent to be upset about, but our college was *famous* for being extremely challenging academically, to the point that maybe 5 people had ever graduated with a 4.0.

      The rest of us in the suite were so horrified we offered to have our moms call her mom to explain why 4.0 wasn’t going to happen and please ease up. (Her mom did ease up and my suitemate’s now a very successful OB.)

  19. lava*

    I was an RA for a graduate dorm throughout my graduate program. I had experienced less of the ‘drunken idiot calls’ and with zero training had to deal with:
    -The resident who had a 3 inch deep carpet of used tissues throughout their room because they ‘didn’t believe in garbage cans’
    -The resident who kept insisting that she could hear bird noises despite moving rooms nearly a dozen times over a year
    -The residents who shacked up together despite our ‘no overnight guest’ policies
    -The residents who were clearly battling anxiety, depression, or had substance abuse disorders
    As a Psych major, I saw and recognized plenty of students who needed help and weren’t getting it, and wasn’t trained or provided any materials to help support my residents beyond some pamphlets.

    One dramatic story: I was the RA on duty one weekend and had stepped out for a few minutes to pick up some food on campus when I received a frantic call that I needed to get back to the dorm immediately. The connection was terrible on the cheap RA phone, but I heard the words police, blood, and ‘deal’). Fearing that a student drug deal had gone sideways, I rushed back to find out that a ‘deer’ (not deal) had run through the plate glass window at the front of the building, and being panicked and in pain, rain through the building leaving blood trails everywhere, broke through ANOTHER glass window to get out, and then ran through yet ANOTHER window into the physics building next door where it unfortunately was found and had to be put down. That was an incident report I never thought I’d be typing up.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’m just glad nobody got hurt. A wounded deer that is panicking can be very dangerous.

      Don’t get my spouse started about testosterone loaded bucks during rut season. Apparently, a 1999 maroon Saturn SD looks like a rival buck in the sunrise. Yes – he was rammed off the road by an angry 10-point buck, and the deer SURVIVED! Hubby had to pay for a new side mirror, windshield, and dent removal from the driver door/fender.

      1. The Other Alison*

        BUCKS oh my goodness. I went to UCSC, which is in the middle of the beautiful California redwoods. One time, a buck refused to get out of the road for the bus. The bus! He looked like he was trying to challenge an entire bus to a fight. He did eventually decide that discretion was the better part of valor, fortunately.

  20. The Deer that Wasn't a Drug Deal*

    I was an RA for a graduate dorm throughout my graduate program. I had experienced less of the ‘drunken idiot calls’ and with zero training had to deal with:
    -The resident who had a 3 inch deep carpet of used tissues throughout their room because they ‘didn’t believe in garbage cans’
    -The resident who kept insisting that she could hear bird noises despite moving rooms nearly a dozen times over a year
    -The residents who shacked up together despite our ‘no overnight guest’ policies
    -The residents who were clearly battling anxiety, depression, or had substance abuse disorders
    As a Psych major, I saw and recognized plenty of students who needed help and weren’t getting it, and wasn’t trained or provided any materials to help support my residents beyond some pamphlets.

    One dramatic story: I was the RA on duty one weekend and had stepped out for a few minutes to pick up some food on campus when I received a frantic call that I needed to get back to the dorm immediately. The connection was terrible on the cheap RA phone, but I heard the words police, blood, and ‘deal’). Fearing that a student drug deal had gone sideways, I rushed back to find out that a ‘deer’ (not deal) had run through the plate glass window at the front of the building, and being panicked and in pain, rain through the building leaving blood trails everywhere, broke through ANOTHER glass window to get out, and then ran through yet ANOTHER window into the physics building next door where it unfortunately was found and had to be put down. That was an incident report I never thought I’d be typing up.

    1. Elder Millennial*

      As someone not from the US, you touch on a point that made me think: it seems like the RA system puts a lot of responsibility on really young people. Can you really expect 20 year olds to notice when students two years younger are suffering from mental health disorders and how to handle that? Or how to handle it when their parents seem to treat them abusive (because they call you when they cannot reach their offspring)?

      Obviously you don’t have any answers, but reading about the RA system it doesn’t strike me as the most responsible one, unless there is extensive back up (and coaching and care) for the students from adults and professionals.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        We had two layers: SAs (student advisors) who were students with some training, and RLCs (residence life coordinators) who were actual adults with considerably more training. The SAs were first line of defense, sort of, but the RLCs were where you went for heavier issues.

      2. ThatGirl*

        At my college (and I expect many others) the RAs were there for just the basic sorts of things (locked out of your room, getting everyone out in a firedrill, calling campus security or 911 for emergencies) and had Actual Adults to call on for big problems and emergencies. The first floor of my dorm had an apartment for a full time staff member to live in to help with things that were way above an RA’s paygrade.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        We were 17/18 year old college kids. I don’t think the RAs are there to be replacement parents or guardians. The dorms are there to provide cheap housing for adults under the legal drinking age. It makes sense that they enforce things related to being quiet, nieghborly, getting along with your roommate, and not drinking, being drunk or high since that’s both illegal and lots of mischief, injury, and damage is caused by drunk students.

        Our RAs didn’t regualarly proactively check in on us that I noticed.

        I don’t think the RA is really there to solve mental health disorders or abuse; not more so than any bystander should do something about those things they see. But I also went to school before people talked about mental health.

      4. Blueberry Girl*

        At every uni I have ever worked, RAs aren’t there to be guardians and they aren’t there to provide mental health treatment. Basically, they to provide keys if someone locks themselves out, call 911 if there’s an emergency, and make sure nothing too bananas happens in the dorms after hours. There’s always adult backups and generally one or two live on campus, but if there’s 15 dorms, then you need one or two people in each who are empowered to call a plumber and remind folks not to drink too openly. I agree with others who have said, the RA system was not designed and does not function as a replacement for professionals, it’s more of a support role.

  21. eliza*

    I was an RA for three years (mostly because I wanted to live without a roommate, not because of any particular desire to help younger residents) and the main thing I learned is that college aged boys are really, really dumb. I never wanted to write anyone up because it meant going to student conduct board, which was held during my favorite extracurricular, but my residents just couldn’t put the bare minimum into hiding their misdeeds. Examples include drinking beer in the hallways and smoking weed on the balcony they *shared with me.* Every time I was like, “Come on, people! You’re doing this to yourself!”

    1. a heather*

      SAME! I always paid for a single room (they were all doubles in my dorm, but RAs had the option) but several years I got a roommate assigned for at least the beginning of the year due to overcrowding. One year my temporary freshman roommate had a marine boyfriend who tried to spend as much time as possible at the dorm, and thus, in my, the RA’s, room. Where it was not allowed. Nor was him drinking alcohol in the room as a guest of an under-age student. They spent several nights just wandering campus because I would not let them sleep (or not actually sleep) in my room after hours before she managed to get moved to another room.

      I heard lots of tales of his horrible conduct whenever he was there on a weekend/break when I was not staying on campus.

      1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

        I read “marine” as in a sea creature and was like, “YOU LIVED IN THE MOVE THE SHAPE OF WATER?!” Took me a minute.

  22. a heather*

    I was an RA for a few years, so long ago that hardly anyone had personal computers, but that’s not really relevant to this story. I lived on the top floor of a 12-story residence hall, and spent one night trying to catch a mouse in a girl’s room with only a red solo cup and a newspaper. I was successful, but am pretty sure the mouse was scared to actual death on the elevator ride down to the ground floor where I planned to release it. I did leave it under a tree, just in case.

    Mice were not a known problem in this dorm, so I suspect it was probably smuggled in to be food for someone’s illicit snake pet.

  23. Alara*

    I was a (female) RA for a floor of freshman men, the vast majority of which were engineering students. A couple favorites:

    – The guy who knocked on my door at 7AM on a Sunday to ask if he could go to church.
    – The guy who walked into my room and (with no warning) stripped his shirt off. He had some hives and wanted to know what to do. (He had bought his own laundry detergent for the first time, and didn’t realize that he was allergic.)

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m very confused about student 1. Was he asking for permission to leave campus? Did he want a ride? Was he asking if there was a church on campus? Or was he just getting interested in religion and knocked on your door to ask “is this something i can even do?”

      1. Allison*

        I also need more info! My assumption is he thought he needed permission, maybe because he went to boarding school that had rules on when you could leave campus.

        1. Alara*

          He was asking for permission to go; there was no request for a ride (he had one lined up already), and he didn’t go to a boarding school before college. As best as I can figure, he hadn’t yet figured out that he didn’t need to tell anybody where he was going, and momentarily swapped “Mom” in his brain with “RA”.

          1. MM*

            There is a weird hangover period where they haven’t figured out they have agency. I teach a 101 class so there are a lot of first-years in it, and–even at a commuter school where a lot of students have jobs and caregiving responsibilities–I swear I spend half my time just repeating, “You’re an adult, I’m not a hall monitor, it’s up to you.”

  24. Lch*

    Never an RA but sometimes hung out with friends on night staff to help them stay awake. What a wild, weird job. Students would staff the front desk of a dorm for the overnight shift, presumably nights where they did not have class the next day. Even in college I couldn’t stay up all night (without pharmaceutical help).

    1. Allison*

      I did that job! I worked the security desk overnight twice a week – I did have class the next day but it was in the afternoon, so I’d go back to my dorm and sleep for a few hours. I do NOT understand how I was able to do that. I started drinking 5 Hour Energy shots to stay awake, and then I’d graze on Smartfood and gummy worms while watching movies, and playing video games during the more dead hours of the night when no one was coming in.

  25. Danni*

    I was an ra in an old building where you can very easily hear people talking through the walls. One of my residents complained endlessly about her next door neighbor how she could hear her music her TV her on the phone. The neighbor was not blasting noise the building just had paper thin walls. This was between 1 and 5 in the afternoon too so not even at night. Idk this girl thought the dorms where people lived should be silent as a tomb. I liked my head ra but she wouldn’t tell this girl to stop so it was endless complaints for a whole semester. Idk what she would have done if she lived in one of the bigger building where there were parties at all times of the day and night

    1. Cranky Kate*

      I wasn’t an RA myself, but…my dorm neighbor (call her Shirley) had an issue with her neighbor on the other side (Britta), a night owl who liked to party in her room until all hours. (Same issue — old building, eccentric acoustics, etc.) One night Shirley wasn’t feeling well and really needed to sleep, so she asked Britta, repeatedly, to dial it back. Britta, having just finished chugging her own blood volume in Bartles & Jaymes, declined. The RA, Jeff, then ordered Britta to turn down the music; Britta likewise declined, and Jeff basically threw up his hands and declared himself powerless over the situation (the alcohol was technically illegal but he hadn’t actually seen it, and the music, while loud, didn’t actually tip over into “public nuisance” territory — again, old building, acoustics were weird, and the two residents already didn’t get along).

      The next morning, Britta had the mother of all hangovers and was groaning in her bed. Shirley pushed her stereo speakers up against the wall she and Britta shared, cued up Prince and the Revolution, turned the bass all the way up, and left for the day, locking the door behind her. When Britta begged Jeff to go into Shirley’s room to turn the music off, Jeff innocently informed her that even an RA couldn’t enter a locked room without consent. Britta stamped her pretty foot and ran off to vomit. I’m pretty sure the two women reached a detente shortly thereafter, and Shirley had a lot less trouble after that.

      1. RA in Australia*

        I had a similar situation …. Late nights one house mate would talk on the phone or play tv loudly…. Early mornings the other housemate would wait until everyone else had left for classes and blast Korn.

        Great times, great times. I just shrugged and said “hrm, it’s not quiet hours, I’m not sure what you want me to do about it?”. So not my problem.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Also: Our dorms had brick/block interior walls. The interior doors were so heavy that you almost couldn’t hear the fire alarm going off in the hallway, which was a problem, obviously, but not one that you’d expect to have in a dorm. And the fire-alarms were skull-splittingly loud.

      1. kicking_k*

        I slept through our college fire alarm once and consequently they made it much louder on our stairwell, which did not endear me to my fellow residents.
        That was the short version. This was daytime. I actually had some kind of bug and was running a temperature, had retreated to bed, and in my mildly delirious state thought the noise was someone’s alarm clock.

        It was a very, very old building and the smoke detectors went off any time someone burned the toast, which was often.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          At least those were accidental burnings. I had one girl in my dorm building first semester freshman year that was convinced the fire alarms were kitchen timers. Nobody could convince her otherwise, and despite housing best efforts about once every two weeks she somehow got access to the kitchen to “cook” again. Think that through – one fire alarm every other week for four months…..they kicked her out of student housing over winter break. We were all extremely glad to see her go.

  26. Polopoly*

    I wasn’t an RA, but in college I lived in an dorm that included undergrads, grad students, and faculty members with their families – kids included. (The faculty members had fairly nice apartment facilities so they didn’t have to share showers or kitchens with the students). The faculty kids would come around to hang out / play with the big kids (students) fairly often, so we were pretty careful about what we did / said until we knew the littles were asleep.

    We had some random weird issues like a shower pooper, and assorted logistics, but it wasn’t too bad. To be honest, the kids kept us on better behavior than the RA ever could have.

    1. Margaretmary*

      That reminds me of when I was at college. Ireland is sort of different to the US here and my accommodation was privately owned, but there was a caretaker typed guy who lived in a flat at the end with his family including his preteen/young teen daughter who used hang out with us sometimes as a sort of honourary younger sister. My college was a “teaching college” so we weren’t exactly the most rowdy anyway

  27. Cori Classen*

    I also had a call from a very sweet, sheltered girl who was hyperventilating. I had to grab the extra key because she had locked herself in her room with a towel shoved in the gap. When she had calmed down a little, I finally found out that she was worried about getting kicked out for getting high. This didn’t actually check out because she wasn’t high, to the best of my (extensive RA-based) knowledge. I finally figured out that she had smelled weed in the hallway and was convinced she’d get a contact high from that. After she was safely through her panic attack I still had to go search for the original offender. I still had the easy floor, though, since the RA on the floor above me had a girl deliver a surprise baby in the toilet.

    1. cubone*

      this is both the cutest and strangest story. But holy moly the surprise baby is WILD. I thought that only happened in elevators on 80s sitcoms.

      1. Bagpuss*

        surprise babies are more common than you might think.

        I girl I knew when we were in our teens was a surprise baby – her mother was in her early 40s and put the irregular periods, and the fact that she had put on a small amount of weight and felt bloated, down to menopause.
        She got kicked by a cow (they were a farming family) and was persuaded to go to hospital to get checked out, as she seemed to be in pain, it turned out that she was in active labour and gave birth about an hour after arriving at hospital. My friend had 3 older brothers, so it’s not as though her mum hadn’t had previous experience of pregnancy and labour.

        a girl in my sister’s year at school also had a surprise baby – she didn’t (I think genuinely didn’t) know she was pregnant and gave birth in the girls toilets – with a little assistance from a very startled 6yth former who happened to have a free period and popped to the loo.

        I’ve also had two clients who had unexpected babies, although as in both cases they had older children and had social services involvement with the family it’s possible that they knew (or at least suspected) and were hoping that social services wouldn’t find out / the court proceedings would be over before it became obvious. With one of them I met with her about 2 weeks before she gave birth and she didn’t look pregnant at all, I was genuinely surprised when I heard!

        1. Siege*

          I knew someone who never looked pregnant, and her period never stopped. She went to the hospital for suspected appendicitis and was in labor. She’d had a child previously, so I’m not sure whether she really thought it wasn’t labor because she didn’t know she was pregnant or it really didn’t feel like labor. I met her a couple weeks before this happened and we didn’t have a solid connection to withstand the chaos of “you’re leaving this hospital with a baby you didn’t know to prepare for, good luck!” but I got updates from our mutual friend for a while.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          A family member had a surprise baby.

          For nine months his girlfriend was being investigated for amenorrhoea and other odd symptoms, with multiple negative pregnancy tests and many HCPs noticing nothing. Then one day he got a call at work to say she had been rushed to hospital, and they left it with a SEVEN POUND BABY.

        3. kicking_k*

          I’m the lady who didn’t look pregnant. My first child was very planned, and I did miss periods, but if I hadn’t I might well have missed it till late on. Someone I knew met me at 39 weeks after not seeing me for a while and said “Oh, you’ve had the baby… where is it?”

          Yep, still inside and poking me in the ribs, but what a thing to say. What if I’d had a stillbirth?

          He was just a very upright baby and I have a long body.

    2. Lisa*

      “I still had the easy floor, though, since the RA on the floor above me had a girl deliver a surprise baby in the toilet.” Whaaaaaaaat!!???

      I had a freshman dorm hall with 42 women. By the end of the first year two were pregnant and one of those wasn’t sure who the father was.

  28. K*

    This is a topic that I have been waiting for. I was an RA for 5 years (undergrad and grad school) at a VERY popular party school. What kind of topic are you looking for? Hair pulling girl fights? Subpoenaed for people a witness to an assault? Harassed by parents? Caught residents duck taped handed playing Edward Forty Hands or playing beer pong while singing backsteet boys. Student tripping on something funky and carted away in an ambulance. Caught a guy with weed taped to his junk, called maintenance for several poop piles in the hallway. The is goes on an on. When ever anyone asks about a subject I ask for them to give me a topic and I always have a story to share.

      1. K*

        Well, I was spending one weekend away from the dorm, which is extremely rare. And I get a call from a new RA covering the front desk. There is a parent yelling at her, she put that parent on the phone to me and the parent then began to yell at me, saying it was MY fault her boy got arrested last night for hitting a cop. I immediately hung up on the parent because it was NOT my job to talk to parents. I then immediately called my other grad RA to go down to the front desk to back up the newbie. The parent ended up talking to our dorm director, wait is talking is too strong of a word, it was more yelling. And you did NOT yell at my director. Parents are crazy.

      1. K*

        I have two that come to mind right now. One wholesome and one not so much.

        Story 1 – Not wholesome: The day was April 19th, and we were doing rounds in the dorm. The University Police was also doing rounds. We witnessed a cop pass a resident and ask them to stop. I couldn’t hear what they say but they asked to search his room. The resident declined and the police could not search a room without a search warrant. My coworker and I see then and decide to take a seat. Because when something like this happens, we still have to document the incident for the dorm but stay out of the way of the police.

        Now warrants take a while to get. So me, my co-worker, police office and resident are sitting in the hallway waiting for the warrant. After at least an hour+, another cop comes with the warrant and you could see the face of the resident drop. Then the University police supervisor also shows up and we know they mean business. The police begin to search the room and not even five minutes later and office steps out of the room, and asks to for the resident to stand-up and turn around. The resident was cuffed and asked if he had anything on them. A scale was taped to the residents ankle and he admitted to having a bag of weed taped to his….”junk”. After the resident was led out of the dorm, the Police supervisor called me over. She showed me 2 (12-gal) bags full of weed. This guys was certainly dealing and was stocked up for the “holiday”.

        Story 1 – wholesome: Friday night and it was a busy night. I come across a female resident crying and male resident super upset. Apparently the female went to a party and brought a guy back to the dorm. The male guest would not take “no” for an answer. The male resident came across this situation and came between the female and male guest. Saved her honor but ended up with a fist to the teeth. The guest ran off and the male resident was left with a broken tooth.

        This is what I came across. I convinced them to allow me to call the police to report the assault. They were worried about getting in trouble for drinking but the cops at our university would cite them for underage for something like this. They agreed and made a statement. At the end, we all learned that the female resident’s dad was an orthodontist and she was going to ask her dad to help fix her rescuers tooth. It was pretty cute in the end.

      2. K*

        I don’t know if I have a favorite because I did the job for 5 years and so much happened. But I always loved working Halloween. Everyone dressed up and when I wrote incident reports I got to include their costume. Like the 3 smurfs from room 161 were found drinking alcohol in their room or female devil and male angel violated quiet hours. A little extra fun to my reporting.

        The absolute worst day as a RA was St. Patricks day. It was a Saturday. 70 degrees and EVERYONE was drunk. There were only 3 sober RAs in the dorm and the trouble started at 8am did not end until the next day. I was even scheduled to work but I ended up working at 16+ hours. One incident after another. Some even happening at the same time. I certainly learned to multi-task that day.

    1. cubone*

      I request the one that is so absurd you wouldn’t believe it if you hadn’t been there yourself.

      1. K*

        I would say that is the pile of poop in the hallway. I was passing my the main desk and chatting with RA working when a resident comes down the stairs staying there is poop in the hallway. I took a deep sigh and when up to check it out. Sure enough, there was there was at least 3 piles of poop on the hallway. I then went back down to the main desk to call facilities. What makes it worse, it that to request a maintenance call I had we had to call the dispatch for our university police. So I guess you could say I called the police for poop in the hallway. I strictly remember telling the poor person working dispatch that there was “feces in hallway” that needed cleaning up. I had to say that several times. Too many times.

      1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

        Thank you for asking- otherwise, I was going to have to Google this phrase at work and hope for the best.

      2. cubone*

        you duct tape a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor to each hand and can’t take them off til you finish.

        1. Galadriel's Garden*

          My favorite iteration of Edward Fortyhands in college involved a couple of my guy friends realizing that the best way to play without having to suffer bathroom troubles was to do so in a skirt or dress, then going to all of their female friends trying to figure out whose clothes fit who the best, which became a pre-game fashion show…ahh, college.

          1. Evelyn Carnahan*

            We always had a “mormon” at every Edward Fortyhands party who would help people navigate those kinds of issues. But when I was in college one of the bars sold half price Cosmos to anyone in a skirt or dress when E played reruns of Sex & the City. The men in my friend group loved to wear a skirt, drink 4 Cosmos in an hour, and then meet the rest of the (mostly under 21) group at the bar that didn’t card anyone. One of my friends later got a job at the bar that didn’t card and it was a drug front. Oh, college.

      3. Aspiring Stoop Crone*

        Oooh ooh, my knowledge of dumb American college drinking games is useful! Named after Edward Scissorhands, the Johnny Depp/ Tim Burton Movie, Edward Fortyhands is when you tape two 40s to your hands. Usually one person was the designs helper, would duct tape two 40oz bottles of Malt Liquor of your choice to your hands with duct tape. Then you can’t take them off until you drink it all. If you were small or a lightweight their let you do 2 x 22 oz bottles.
        Usually a race to finish before you pissed yourself.

        1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

          I don’t know why this amuses me so, but it does. I figured the Edward Scissorhands reference- I often forget that 40 oz bottles exist, simply because I never have encountered them myself (pretty sheltered alcohol experiences, notwithstanding my 21st birthday party where a friend brought Maker’s Mark and I licked my best friend’s face. Also, I ended up in a bean bag chair, completely trashed, and unable to get out of it. Ah, college.). Anywhoo…thank you for the education.

        2. pancakes*

          When I was in school something a bit similar was called having an 80s party (no duct tape, but two 40s for everyone). I only went to one of these, during a summer job in my home city, and it was the night of the OJ Simpson car chase. The tv was on silent in one room of the party and as the night wore on (east coast time), more and more people gathered in there to watch the white bronco.

      4. K*

        As an RA we did round each night. On one of our rounds my co worker and I came across a room playing loud music on a Saturday. We knock on the door to ask them to quiet down and hear the classic “Shhhh its a RA”. They open the door and about 8 guys have formed a horseshoe around the room entrance. I ask to see everyones student ID and notice one guy still sitting down. A friend of his reaches into his pocket and pulls out his ID, which I thought was strange so I peak over the heads of the residents (I am pretty tall) and can see something this guys is holding. I ask him to stand-up and I see it. He has 2 forty’s duck taped to his hands. I then ask his friend to remove the tape and dump our the alcohol. I tell the guys in the room “I have never seen that before”. Someone asked me if I have never heard of Edward Forty Hands. I was like “oh no, I know what it is, I just have never caught anyone playing before”. All the guys pretty nice and had a good laugh.

      1. K*

        It was a Friday or Saturday night, I was sleeping in my room. I had the windows opened because of course my dorm did not have air conditioning. My windows faced an alleyway and I am awaken my a man yelling “Help Me, Help Me”. I peak out my window and see another man beating the crap out of another guy. I immediately call the front desk then the police. I had to write a witness statement which then caused me to be subpoenaed. I had to miss to chem lab for the hearing, case was dismissed but I got $10 for my troubles.

  29. BA*

    I was an RA my second year of college. A couple of people came up the stairs looking for someone, who I thought was in one of the freshmen rooms on the floor. I went up to the door and knocked. The music was pretty loud so I didn’t get an answer, so I opened the door and walked in. And there were a bunch of underage students enjoying some frosty alcoholic beverages. I saw the person who the others were looking for, pointed to him and said he had visitors. Then I left.

    The “owners” of the room, and another RA, came out of the room and followed me down the hall. They were clearly concerned that I was going to write them all up. I had homework to do and really didn’t want to go do official business on a night that I was technically not on duty, so I told them I couldn’t legally (by the college handbook) take any action because I walked into the room uninvited and technically hadn’t seen anything. I suggested they keep the noise level down so as not to draw any unwanted attention to themselves and turned and walked away.

    1. KateM*

      But if they hadn’t kept their noise level up, they would have heard you and called “come in!” and then you wouldn’t have had the excuse of walking into their room uninvited.

  30. Gorilla Suit*

    I was an RA for a year in college at a Very Large University In The Midwest (cold cold cold). All students had ID cards that opened all campus buildings from 8a-8p, but only your own residence hall after 8p, unless you were an RA … and RA IDs opened up all residence halls after 8p. The building I lived in was a part of a complex that was built during the Cold War, and also, it was cold all the time, so there were underground walkways/tunnels that connected this complex that were useful for evading the weather (walking from your residence hall to your dining hall could be actually dangerous during the winter, but not underground!) and as well for bomb shelters if we had ever needed them? So you could enter in the basement of one building, walk through the tunnels to get to your building’s elevators, and then ride up to your floor, avoiding any people upon entry at the desk. As an RA who had an Active Social Life Outside The Building, the Magical ID That Entered All Residence Halls Any Time Of Day Or Night, this was ESPECIALLY USEFUL during very late returns with people who did not live in your hall, and you’d just hold your breath and hope that no Regular Students would get on your elevator that you entered through the tunnels/four-buildings-ago, to see you with a Person Who Definitely Did Not Live There, And One Time Might Have Been A Person In A Gorilla Suit Not Even During Halloween?, sneaking around doing exactly what the RA was supposed to be preventing.

    The same magical ID that gave you entrance to buildings at off-hours also was responsible for your meal plan, and for some reason, the RA meal plan was the same as the Division I Scholarship Football Player meal plan. So I would frequently bring my hungry off-campus friends through the dining hall on Sundays and swipe my remaining 10 meals of the week in one go for anywhere from 4-10 additional people.

    1. quill*

      If that’s the one I’m thinking of, I had an all weekend scholarship competition there in the middle of the winter, and had to camp in an RA’s room (she volunteered.) Come about 3 AM, the fire alarm goes off.

      Picture this poor RA trying to do headcount for her floor in 5 F weather while a seventeen year old, wrapped up like a coccooned catepillar in a sleeping bag, follows her around asking repeatedly if it’s a real fire. I looked like a bagworm with shoes.

      1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

        I lived on the floor with the honor students, which I think meant that they were honor bound to THROW WATER BALLOONS at the smoke detectors, which would set them off. (This happened enough that it was A Thing (TM).) The week before winter break and during semester finals, the fire alarm went off at 2 AM. My roommate was putting real clothes on because we assumed it wasn’t a real fire and I, a fashionista in her pajamas, slippers, and a heavy robe during the daylight hours (as soon as I got back to my dorm; it was my home, after all- why bother wearing “real” clothes all the time when I could just hang out in my pj’s in the dorm, at events, etc?), threw open the door and was confronted by a hallway of smoke. I closed our door, told my roommate to forego pants, and get out in a HURRY because our DORM was on FIRE.

        Turns out, the gals down the hall accidentally lit their mini-Christmas tree on fire with a forbidden candle. Ooops. No one was hurt, nothing was damaged except the tree, and I learned really quickly that fire alarm means leave in a hurry.

      2. JustaTech*

        Actually genuinely snorted tea on my keyboard at “bagworm with shoes”! That’s hilarious!

      3. Gorilla Suit*

        I was not this RA but I feel like I had this experience many times. So cold. So so so cold. Thankful for those underground tunnels.

  31. CowsSayMoo*

    I was an RA for two years in college. On Halloween, an incredibly intoxicated woman was sitting in our dorm’s lobby. She had lost her phone, so my co-RA and I let her use our phone to call someone to pick her up. After multiple phone calls to multiple people and many minutes later, no one picked up. We learned this person was not a student at our school but had come here to hang out. She told us she had not been drinking – but the smell, look, etc. all pointed to her being truly sloshed. We asked if she had anywhere to go and she said no. She began to swear at my co-RA and me and generally began acting out. So following policy, we called our campus police, to take this person to a drunk tank so that she could sober up, be watched and kept safe.

    When the police arrived, she began becoming very agitated. This woman began yelling, screaming obscenities and generally being rude. In her defense, the police had handcuffed her and didn’t explain particularly well that she wasn’t under arrest, but was being taken to a drunk tank. She seemingly did not understand this and got more agitated, she kicked the officer and called me the C-word (yes that one!). The police called for back up. Now 4 officers were carrying/dragging this (one)woman to the police car, 50 ft away. At one point she tried to bite an officer. Eventually, they got her in the car and took her away. The best part of the story, since it was Halloween, she was dressed up. Her costume: A Police Officer!

  32. BreaCheese*

    My sophomore year of college, I was going to study abroad second semester, so I didn’t want to room with someone first semester and then abandon them and leave them with the risk of getting a random roommate when I left. My sort-of friend from high school was a Freshman RA that year, so I just roomed with her the first semester. She had started dating a guy from town who had an infant/toddler, and she would often babysit him when her boyfriend was at work. We lived in suite-style dorms, so there were three dorm rooms and a common room. This RA would change the infant’s diaper and then just leave it in the trash in the common room for days, instead of taking the trash to the dumpster. It constantly smelled like baby poop in the dorm. It was only starting to get really bad when I left for Italy, but I was friends with the other girls who lived there, and I heard it got much worse after I left. :/

  33. Don't Touch My Snacks*

    I was a terrible RA; like so bad I recognized it and quit because I realized :1. I didn’t actually care about other people breaking the rules. 2. I wasn’t interested in not breaking the rules myself.

    Some of the things that went down while I was doing my terrible RA thing:

    1. Rather than write up a student for having a dog illegally I just made an agreement that I could let myself in when she wasn’t there so I could play with it.
    2. I had to call poison control to find out if you could overdose on THC (end up you can) and then helped treat the student with sketchy early-2000’s internet solutions so we didn’t have to take her to the ER.
    3. Routinely looked the other way when there were overnight guests because I couldn’t figure out why we were policing the sex lives of adults.

    1. londonedit*

      I mean, reading some of these stories I’m wondering why anyone was policing the lives of adults full stop…but I think that’s down to some significant cultural differences!

      1. Callum*

        To be clear, “policing the lives of adults” is really only something that happens at religious universities. I know that commenters who aren’t American like to extrapolate from one or two anecdotes and assume its true for the entire country, but some of the stuff in this thread is shocking to me and I’ve lived in dorms at 3 different US university. In my experience, the RA’s role is usually mainly to be a resource for students (dealing with disagreements between roommates, help them get connected to services, etc). Enforcing the rules is also part of their job, but most of them will look the other way unless a student is causing an actual problem.

        1. Dasein9*

          It’s also going to depend on the poster’s age. Linda LeClair is not that old, and “The Incident” changed things a lot in the US.

        2. Siege*

          I did three years at a US college renowned for its academic excellence and its drug-friendly laissez faire culture; it was not a place with particularly strict rules, and in fact for two years there I openly lived with my boyfriend; the first year was a two-bedroom dorm with two couples where nominally the same-sex pair shared the room but that wasn’t what really happened, and the second year, my boyfriend and I got a one-bedroom dorm together. It was laid back, and the policies they did have were enforced which was a better experience than my contemporaries who went to school with policies that were never enforced, leading to huge issues for the residents.

          I also did two years in grad school in the UK, and let me tell you, there were times the lives of adults SHOULD have been under university supervision. Any involuntary roommate situation is a recipe for disaster anyway, so I don’t understand why the UK standard of “let’s just shove 10 people into a house that’s not part of the college proper and call that a day!” is somehow better. Sure, we were older and better able to regulate our behavior/less charmed by parental freedom, but there was a lot of (literal) culture clash that could’ve used college support.

          To me, the bigger issue is less about policing behavior and more about random roommate matchups.

          1. pancakes*

            I went to a similar type of school (4 years, though) and we didn’t have RAs. We did have academic advisors, but not anyone living in the dorms doing any sort of headcount or room check or anything like that.

      2. Anon for This*

        Probably some combination of institution was started by some group that didn’t approve of whatever it is, and One Legendary Person ruining it for everyone else by triggering a draconian punishment for anyone who might want to do anything close to the Legendary Performance.

        Like inviting your partner over is okay in theory, but not when you’re both screaming at the top of your lungs when the walls are paper thin. Drinking is okay in theory, but not when you destroy stuff under the influence, and rather than banning screaming at the top of your lungs or getting so drunk you break stuff, they just ban everything.

      3. Beth*

        Seconding Callum’s comment. Most universities in the US will have rules about underage drinking and drugs, and might have residential rules involving overnight guests who stay too many nights, but no rules on sex.

        My college dorm (small private secular university in Oregon, late 1970s to early 1980s) was co-ed (one men’s floor and one women’s floor, with the bathrooms on each floor designated for that gender). No rules about overnight guests, other than the expectation that you and your roommate would work it out, whatever “it” was. I had people overnight at various times, mostly platonic friends sleeping on the floor. I think there was a rule that you couldn’t have anyone stay more than three nights.

        A friend of mine who lived in the one dorm on campus that was women-only had a window overlooking the side door of the dorm, and used to entertain herself on Sunday morning by counting the number of guys sneaking out at dawn. For my part, we had one semester with a lot of middle-of-the-night fire alarms, and there were always a lot of non-residents among the evacuaees on weekend nights.

      4. Student*

        It’s usually more about making a set of rules so very different people can coexist near each other for 9 month stretches at a time. It’s about trying to keep a couple problem people from constantly annoying or hurting the other people around them.

        There are rules about overnight guests because many dorm rooms are shared single rooms, with no individual private spaces.

        In most places, nobody really cares if all the residents of a room agree to an overnight guest. If your room mate is a stranger (not unusual) and they bring a stranger back to the room to stay without taking any input from you, then there’s a serious issue and we need a system to settle it. If you’re trying to study for an exam for a class that cost you thousands of dollars, and the stranger you share a single room with insists she’s going to start having sex with her equally-stranger boyfriend in the only space you’re allocated for studying, who ought to prevail in that debate? If the room mates can work out a system they’re both happy with, it’s profoundly unlikely anyone will get in trouble. If they can’t agree, having a simple rule to settle it quickly is a good fallback.

        Nobody (almost nobody) cares that adults are having sex. They care that other adults are having sex in someplace they need to use for other purposes.

        Similarly, a lot of the noise rules are because other people need to study and don’t have many alternatives beyond their rooms. The rules about getting intoxicated are often a reflection of the fact that young people who are out on their own for the first time in their lives are often completely unbearable and unreasonable to live with when they are intoxicated. If they all had single rooms and never left them while intoxicated, no one would care. When they render the communal bathroom on your floor unusable through drunk antics, punch holes in your shared wall in a drunk rage, or drunkenly harass anyone who walks into their line of view, then they are the problem and they need to put a lid on it or GTFO.

        1. quill*

          “your room mate is a stranger (not unusual) and they bring a stranger back to the room to stay without taking any input from you, then there’s a serious issue and we need a system to settle it.”

          Oh, I see you’ve met my first roommate, who turned up at 3AM Halloween night drunk as a skunk trailing her hookup, who accidentally sat on me, waking me from a sound sleep.

          He was very apologetic, but I moved out a week later.

          1. frystavirki*

            Nowhere near as bad as that for me, but yeah, I was once in a dorm with three other suitemates (basically an apartment on campus; we all had single rooms and shared two bathrooms and I think a small kitchen?) and unbeknownst to me, the other dorm building on campus had had a power outage. It was early fall in South Florida, so without the air conditioning on it was too hot for people to sleep. I walked out of my room at around 1am to get a glass of water, and….there’s a dude sleeping on the couch. A dude who did not live in my suite, to be clear. I screamed. He screamed. The lights went on. Apparently he’d texted one of my suitemates to ask if he could crash on our couch because of the A/C situation and she’d said it was okay…..and then did not tell any of us. We had a group text set up and it would have taken a minute to ensure that we at least knew the guy was there and didn’t think someone had broken in or something.

              1. frystavirki*

                Luckily the ones I lived in didn’t have too many problems — I lived in suites for most of the time I was in college (9 years on and off), since I need a single room for medical reasons and we had the money to put me in a place where I could theoretically cook myself some pasta for dinner if I wanted. The uninvited couch crasher and my terrible suitemate in around 2018 were the low points of that sort of living. Terrible Suitemate had lived with her sister for the previous few years, had a job and was never in the room, and was the worst kitchen slob I’ve ever had to be around. She left a pot of cooked, sauced pasta out on the stovetop for days. Needless to say I never used the kitchen that year and when I moved out, since she wasn’t around, my mom and I deep-cleaned the kitchen as well as we could to make sure that the facilities people wouldn’t fine us both if she didn’t clean it up before she left. Otherwise, suites were generally nice. I wish more college rooms in the US were suites and/or singles. I feel like a lot of the problems people have had in these comments were caused by American universities just…sticking two or three people together to sleep in the same room and hoping it won’t explode.

        2. Blueberry Girl*

          Yes, this. Since nearly all dorms in the US people are sharing a room with a stranger, there’s rules that exist in part to keep the peace more than anything else.

      5. a heather*

        The problem is, they are very young adults, mostly living away from for the very first time, and many of them living with a roommate for the very first time. A lot of the rules are less about policing the individual and more about preserving peace.

        I never cared if you had a guest, as long as your roommate was fine with it and there were no other people impacted in a negative (to them) way. In my dorm, four double rooms shared one bathroom, with two toilets, two sinks, and one shower. So a paramour had the opportunity to piss off seven other people, not just one. I don’t care if you’re drinking quietly and not disturbing anyone else. But the rules let you shut things down when they DID cause problems for others.

        1. Jackalope*

          Our halls in my dorms were 20-30 people who were mostly in doubles (one smallish bedroom shared with someone else who might well have been a total stranger at the beginning of the year), with one large bathroom shared by everyone. Each wing was single sex, but in the dorms I lived in there was a door onto the hall and L was one sex and R was the other, so it was really one long hall with both just divided into half. That meant that someone being super obnoxious in the hall was potentially disturbing 60 people (or in one hallway I lived in which was a T shape, 90 people). So some sort of rules were required to make it livable for everyone.

      6. Gumby*

        It varies by school. At my school the RAs didn’t police our lives. They wouldn’t buy alcohol and hand it to the under-21s, but there was no reporting of underage drinking, or overnight guests, or anything like that. We actually had no school rules about those things just kind of “follow the law.” (Though, frankly, at the time pot was illegal and there were certain dorms that were openly known for violating that law.) The most I saw was an RA helping an inexperienced and underaged drinker to his room and arranging for him to be watched in case medical intervention was needed. They were there for questions, help, etc. and they arranged dorm events. I’m sure they mediated roommate disputes on occasion and mine gave some fairly decent advice on choosing a major.

    2. cubone*

      the overnight guests rules are awful (my college didn’t have them). I think there does need to be some suggested guidance when it comes to shared rooms, but the idea that you can’t have people visit in housing you pay for, just… no. It definitely seems to come down to puritanical nonsense around young adults.

    3. quill*

      “Rather than write up a student for having a dog illegally I just made an agreement that I could let myself in when she wasn’t there so I could play with it.”

      I would have done the exact same thing.

    4. Casper Lives*

      Haha, my freshman year we all (RA included) covered up for the girl who rescued a stray kitten and kept him in the dorm for spring semester. He was ~8 weeks and very chatty. RA played with him as much as we did.

  34. Gingersnap*

    I was an RA for a pretty tame building consisting of all women in mostly single rooms. I told my residents that we’d all get along famously if they didn’t give me any reason to write them up and if they didn’t vomit in communal areas. They stuck with this and we had a fantastic year. However my “neighborhood” that I was responsible for while on call included the corresponding men’s dorm which was a little rowdier. Our campus had a strict no weapons policy and one night we had to confiscate a resident’s sword. Sure it was supposed to be decorative, but it was a very real, very large, metal sword and it became a great story about the night we had to call campus police for the sword.

    Most nights on call we’d cross over during our rounds via an academic floor to avoid having to double back up four flights of stairs. Our keys shouldn’t have worked for the academic wing but they did. One of my professor’s offices was on that floor and our term papers had to be in his mailbox by the end of the day (or at least before the main doors were locked around 8pm). I noticed a surprisingly large portion of my classmates had missed the deadline and there was a pile of papers shoved under the main doors to the department. Since I had the keys I grabbed the papers and put them in the professor’s boxed and locked everything back up. No one ever knew!

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      From the details you’ve shared, I know it’s not the same person I used to know but what happened to the resident, were they able to stay in the hall after the sword was found? Reason I ask is my ex’s friend was found with swords in his room in his first few weeks of his first year and got kicked out. His family ended up having to buy an apartment/flat for him.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Hit send too soon, the story passed into legend at that university, and he once found himself in a pub sat next to a group of freshers talking about the incident (a few years after it happened) and was shocked at how many details they’d actually heard.

      2. Dasein9*

        Wow. I made a broadsword for a class once. Good thing I didn’t live in a dorm, where I could’ve gotten in trouble for . . . coursework!

        1. Siege*

          I lived in a dorm and was gifted a claymore sword for one of my birthdays. Hung it on the wall in my dorm. It was visible from outside the room, even.

          No problem. Literally, no one cared.

      3. Gingersnap*

        Luckily in this case it was abundantly clear that the sword was merely decorative and not at all intended as a weapon. The student was allowed to make arrangements to return the sword to his parents’ home and remain on campus.

        1. may*

          My senior year of college, an art history professor was stirring up dissent that the college administration didn’t like. Since he had tenure, there wasn’t a lot the admin could do — but they could enforce the broadest possible interpretation of “no weapons on campus.”

          And if you ever saw a man in a fedora riding a Vespa through upstate New York carting an entire career’s worth of historic trebuchets, crossbows and broadswords, now you know why.

    2. Babyfaced Crone*

      The term paper deadline extension makes for a great using-your-power-for-good story! I only wish your classmates knew how many of them had you to thank. :)

    3. Salymander*

      I think every campus has at least one sword guy. One sword guy at my school was told that he couldn’t have his metal sword on campus, and he definitely couldn’t walk around campus, go to class, or ride the bus while carrying the metal sword. He was really grumpy about that, and I spent many a bus ride sitting next to him and listening to him ranting about how no one understood that he is A Knight and complaining about the unreasonable school policies while he played with the hilt of his wooden practice sword. Yes, he wore that thing everywhere for the next two years.

      1. JustaTech*

        My school had a guy with duct-tape nunchucks. Which, fine, whatever, he was pretty careful with them. Until we learned that they are illegal in our state. Who knew? (He handed them over without complaint.)

        I’m sure we had a “no guns” policy because we also had a “no cannons” policy (even if they are air powered), a “no catapult or trebuchet unless for class” policy, a “no dry ice bombs” policy and a very strict “no napalm” policy.
        Why yes, I did go to a science and engineering school!

        1. Salymander*

          Your school sounds a lot like mine :)

          My buddy’s small trebuchet was confiscated, and my otherwise useless RA supervisor shut down the crossbow building contest. No napalm, but we did get banned from making peanut brittle in the chem lab because one guy decided to add special ingredients to it. Not the usual special ingredient that can be found on campuses everywhere and is legal in my state, but some kind of unholy hell spawned horridness that stank and drove everyone from the building before catching on fire and making loud popping noises that we could hear from outside. No idea what was mixed into that peanut brittle. I mean, what does that? It wasn’t just the burning sugar, because someone had already done that and it didn’t cause that kind of mess. The hell spawn peanut brittle guy was really unpopular after that, because we all really liked our peanut brittle and had been sharing it with lots of friends.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          No “no unauthorized use of liquid nitrogen” rules? Man, your school clearly protected it better than mine did.

          1. JustaTech*

            The lab manager of the chem department was a terrifying woman who threatened to “hang you by your thumbs over and ant hill at high noon with honey on your toes” if you even thought about messing around with any of the chemicals or glassware. (She was actually very nice, but knew the only way to deal with undergrads was to scare them first.) Our campus was in easy driving distance of the desert so it wasn’t a completely impossible threat.

            The physics department dealt with the liquid nitrogen thing by making it part of department events: liquid nitrogen ice cream, pumpkin freezing, and then some fundraiser where you paid a buck and the profs would freeze your thing (report, flower, balloon) and then you could smash it on the sidewalk.

            Oh, and we did have a rule about koi: “The koi are completely off limits and are not to be part of any prank.” This was explained to the freshmen by the upperclassmen as “the koi are worth more than you, don’t even think about touching them”.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              The koi probably were worth more than the undergrads in the eyes of the college. A healthy adult koi with good colors can hit or exceed $1k, whereas undergrads seem to be valued at a crisp $5 in my experience.

        3. Theo*

          My father built a cannon out of coke cans when he was in college. Said he hit a police car with an orange from a half-mile away.

    4. Grassypants*

      We had a guy on campus that had a ‘swordbrella’. As in looked like a umbrella, but had a full sword that you could pull out via the handle. He was constantly showing that thing off on the quad.

      Ended up losing it because he got a newspaper internship one summer, and tried to take it to a session at the state capital building. He Was shocked when it got taken away.

      1. Salymander*

        It is kinda funny that sword people who have their swords confiscated because they want to wear them to Congress or on the bus or whatever are always shocked that the sword has been taken away. Like carrying around a 2 1/2 foot long blade wherever you go is a totally normal thing.

  35. The Smiling Pug*

    I was never an RA, but one of my friends was for a summer when he was in college. He told me that, at 21, he signed up for one of those hybrid camping/college preparedness programs that some universities will put on. It was in New Mexico and he was trying to lead a group of high-schoolers from the start of the trail to the end. The map wasn’t very good, it was over 100 degrees outside and many of the kids had never been away from home before. Add to that very heavy backpacks they were carrying with food and first-aid supplies inside, and it was a recipe for disaster. He won’t give details, even to this day, but it ended with him carrying three different backpacks and dragging two different people up the trail.

    1. KateM*

      Offtopic, but about backpacks. I once went to a hike as a helping parent – the kids were about 7-12 years old, the teacher led the hike, giving oldest kids exercises like “go set up that flag in that point that I show on the map and then next oldest will go and find it based at the same map”, and I tagged behind and saw that the youngest (who could just barely do the hiking part without any exercises) wouldn’t get misplaced. At one point, the four youngest girls were lagging so far behind that I took all their backpacks (with the main things inside being their water bottles, so these were not THAT heavy). They perked up enough so we caught up with youngest boys who thought it very unfair that I had already maxed out my carrying capacity (my hands were full with four backpacks and on my back I had my 1yo).

          1. The Smiling Pug*

            After a while, though, especially when they fall asleep, babies are heavy. Especially when the straps start digging into your shoulders. Ouch.

  36. Masks Up, Phones Down!*

    I was an RA for three years (I was broke and it was free housing). Highlights include:
    – the freshmen girls – two spoiled cousins who roomed together – who enjoyed screaming (once) in the middle of the night and scaring the crap out of everyone. Finally stopped when I had security come and drag EVERYONE on the floor out of bed for a welfare check EVERY time. I think they realized they were going to get murdered by sleep-deprived neighbors if they didn’t stop
    – the freshman girl who didn’t realize that when you reheat your leftover pizza in the common area oven, you need to take it OUT of the cardboard box.
    – the freshman boy who set the washing machine on fire because he packed 3/4 of a load of clothes AND the comforter from his bed into one machine and blew the belt. Burning rubber dead-vacuum-machine smell through the whole dorm
    – the girl who had a legit nervous breakdown and had to be involuntarily committed. I was totally not trained for that one.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Re: Pizza.

      Where I went, the dorms were connected by loggias, so if the fire alarm went off in one dorm it also went off in the dorms on either side.

      For half a semester I lived in a basement room that ran underneath two dorms. One of these dorms also shared a tower with what was technically the next dorm over, which also shared its basement with the next dorm over from that. So if the fire alarm went off in one dorm it set off the alarms in a chain of *five* dorms. We literally had fire alarms every weekend and often on weekdays until the RA on that floor figured out who was incinerating pizzas and put and end to it.

      1. Bagpuss*

        My hall of residence was above the Student Union, (which included a bar and space where there were regular gigs) so although you couldn’t get from one to the other without going outside, if the fire alarm went off in the Union, ours went off and we had to evacuate. Which happened quite a lot .

        The only time there was an actual fire, as opposed to people messing with the fire alarms, it happened at mid day on a Wednesday, and everyone ignored the alarm as mid day on Wednesday was when the system was tested, so it wasn’t until the fire engines arrived that we realised it was an actual alarm. Fortunately no one was hurt. I think it was an electrical fire, and several rooms were damaged.

        1. Anon for This*

          Everyone at my campus dorms evacuated whenever there was an alarm, because if you were still inside when the firefighters arrived, you would be hit with a large fine, and the firefighters arrived quickly.

          This resulted in a poor girl standing outside, wearing flipflops and a towel, soaking wet, while it was snowing, because she was taking a shower when the alarm went off and didn’t have time to get dressed or dry off. A guy loaned her his coat. Then the firefighters arrived and it took them much longer to clear the building than normal, I forget why, and we all had to stand outside shivering and waiting.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I’ve got mobility issues, and calling the firehouse that served the campus saved my bacon on a few occasions. A polite “Hey, I’m in room 666b at Hell House Resident Hall and I can’t go down three flights of stairs safely. Is this a scheduled fire drill?” has done wonders.

            But the fact that I had easy access to a large amount of Pizza Hut coupons that I could not feasibly use up on my own and always offered to buy them pizza when it was just a drill probably didn’t hurt either.

            1. frystavirki*

              Same on the mobility issues, and I was very lucky that my school offered as an accommodation for people registered with the school’s disability office “we will text you if your dorm is having a fire drill so you can ignore it, be outside of your dorm, or at least get ready first.” Otherwise I would have been trying to walk down 8 flights of stairs.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            I don’t know of anyone being fined but we did evacuate because you never knew. And yes, this meant I once spent twenty minutes on the loggia in a wet towel, in the Midwest in December. Mercifully, this was one of the enclosed loggias and not one of the open ones on the other half of campus.

          3. SwiftSunrise*

            Oof. I went to college in New England, and they were similarly strict about fire alarms – if they went off, you had to GO, and being in the shower was no excuse. Wrap on a towel and skedaddle, better naked and wet than dead was the logic.

            This backfired spectacularly one January when there was an ammonia leak at the hockey rink, and an entire residential QUAD had to be evacuated for several hours via fire alarm. And no, they did NOT let the unfortunate showerees go back inside briefly to put on clothes. They had to hang out in the nearby student center in their towels.

            I considered myself fortunate that I’d just forgotten my phone, but I WAS fully dressed!

      2. Nanani*

        Is “incinerating pizzas” a euphemism?
        Because marijuana “pizza” is definitely what caused most of the weekend fire alarms when I lived in a dorm.
        Reportedly, the number of these alarms went down significantly once pot was legalized and people who wanted to partake had to do so outside the same as tobacco smokers (as opposed to hiding in a room or stairwell or toilet stall where they’d trigger smoke alarms).

  37. yogurt*

    Wow…so many stories I could tell. Here are my top two:

    1. On of my coworkers was known on campus as the “Mall Cop” because of her stringent adherence to every minor rule. One night, she busted a party of freshman where another RA happened to be. “Party RA” hid in the closet and her friends literally piled clothes on top of her and closed the doors to hide her. Mall Cop had seen that trick before, alas, and immediately opened the closet to find her coworker who she harshly reprimanded. Not long after that on a Facebook Page called *College Name* Confessions, Mall Cop was called out by her nickname (Mall Cop) and she was embarrassed, livid, and convinced our coworker had done it as revenge. We had to reveal to her that she’d earned her nickname week one of the school year, and therefore it could have been any one of her residents…

    2. I was lucky to be hired. I transferred to my college and became an RA right off the bat, pretty unusual for them. They typically required students to have one year of dorm life experience before becoming an RA, but I had a very strong resume and I was proud of my work throughout the year. Then one day a Resident Director said to me about the next cohort of RA’s – “Yeah, we’re not allowing anyone to even apply if they haven’t lived on campus before. Just because we really don’t think they can do as good as a job as some others…” as he was saying this to me, I could see the realization (and horror) dawn on his face that he was talking to ME, one of TWO people on our team with no previous “dorm life” experience (at that college). I was pissed, to say the least. It cemented for me that I’d made the right decision to move off campus that summer and never return to Res Life again.

    Man just thinking about that again gets my goat. Our Res Directors were constantly talking about “Equity” and “meeting people where they’re at” so it was really a slap in the face to work so hard all year and then get mistakenly told their true feelings. That was not a great group of Directors that year, let me tell you.

    1. RA in Australia*

      I don’t know about your specific situation, but living on campus is a very different world to living elsewhere, and I’d be very cautious about hiring people who hadn’t experienced it in some way first too. Maybe take a boarding school kid? But you really need to learn how the rules work, and I’m not talking about what learning what they are, but how to skirt between them, and when to apply them. The end goal is to understand WHY they exist and for everyone to be able to live harmoniously with the least on a permanent record.

  38. Alexis Rosay*

    I was an RA. The people who managed us were very clearly only doing it because it meant they got free housing in Manhattan, and they were very checked out, so there was little actual training. I had to do room inspections with another RA, but the only instructions we had received were to confiscate candles and incense. We did so but we just ignored a lot of elaborate drug paraphernalia because we simply didn’t know what to do.

    About 2/3 of the residents I was responsible for were Orthodox Jews. So overall my job involved less breaking up parties and more doing random things for them on Saturdays, like talking on the phone to the doctor if there was an injury or pushing the elevator buttons.

  39. BigAl*

    Oh, man… So many stories to tell… I’ll keep it to a few that I still tell many years later.

    1. Had someone in a neighboring hall try out their new high powered sling shot. They hit the window in one of my resident’s rooms. Shattered glass all over one girl’s bed. Luckily they weren’t home. It was a huge mess.

    2. Our school is famous for its epic Halloween parties. RAs had to work all night. At about 4am, I was walking across the green with a group of RAs (all female) to another dorm. We passed a couple of drunk guys and one said, “Hey – he likes you…” And the other dude said, “I didn’t say I liked you. I said I liked the smell of your c***.” We followed them back to their dorm. My very petite and attractive friend walks down a hallway full of drunk freshman guys in their boxers and says in her best teacher voice, “Excuse me! I’d like to speak to the gentleman who made the comment about my c***.” The drunk guy turned out to be a real misogynistic piece of work (surprise, surprise) and the situation escalated to campus police being called and ended up being arrested by a female officer and sleeping a jail cell that night. The best part was retelling that story to her daughter 20+ years later.

    3. I stole THE BEST resume blurb from a fellow RA with great descriptions for the job. It was a while ago, so I don’t remember the details, but my fave part was something like “Trained in conflict resolution and crisis management.” I had an interviewer look at me doubtfully and ask what I meant by that. I told him that my job ranged from helping students schedule classes and signing out the dorm vacuum cleaner to defusing a fist fight between drunk people in the hallway and helping a student after a sexual assault. He seemed satisfied with that answer.

    Being an RA was a big pain a lot of the time and the pay was terrible. But it was also a lot of fun (flashlight tag with all the lights out while campus was closed!). I learned a ton and am still friends with many of my coworkers and residents.

  40. JM*

    It was a dry campus where we were required to confiscate alcohol. In general it was only enforced if there was a noise complaint call where alcohol was discovered. The policy was to take the bottles to a storage room (where honestly the best stuff would get pilfered by the administration) for disposal. Our uniforms consisted of a cheap badge, radio, and a swiss army backpack. Some entrepreneurial residents bought their own backpacks, radios, and badges, then they started going on evening rounds. They were more efficient than the actual RAs, because they knocked on any door that they could hear music by through and confiscated all the booze. Their plan was eventually foiled (although they were never identified) because a student called the RA boss to ask for an empty bottle back that was from a special family event. After that the policy was changed so that we had to dump bottles out in the sink and leave the students with the empties.

  41. Proctor RA*

    I was an RA for several years in college. One of the best stories happened in another dorm where one student, “Helen”, had an emotional support dog. She left for a break and asked her roommate, “Georgia”, to watch the dog while she was gone. Well while Georgia was out, a second roommate, “Rachel”, decided to make some weed butter. Rachel dropped some aluminum foil she was using on the floor and the dog licked some of the weed butter off of it. When Georgia comes back, they realize the dog is doing poorly and take it to the vet. The dog fully recovered, but the roommates spent the next several months arguing about who should pay for the vet bill.

    Helen and Georgia thought either Rachel should pay for making the weed butter. Georgia and Rachel thought Helen should pay because she owned the dog. Helen and Rachel were also happy if Georgia payed (basically no one wanted to pay the bill themselves). I think Helen and Georgia ended up splitting the bill because Rachel refused to pay at all.

    We RAs watched the drama unfold through weekly updates from the dorm RA who got dragged into mediating the conflict (it took months to resolve). We also collectively “forgot” that weed wasn’t allowed on campus (it was legal in our state).

    1. Not Australian*

      I was confused about why she wouldn’t take her emotional support dog with her, but then you don’t say how long of a ‘break’ it actually was…

      1. Proctor RA*

        It was probably half a week. I think she was flying somewhere and didn’t want the hassle of transporting the dog for a short period of time (this wasn’t particularly unusual for students who had emotional support animals).

      2. Wisteria*

        The emotional support animal designation is not intended to mean that the animal accompanies the person everywhere. They are a therapeutic intervention, not a service providing animal. The therapeutic benefit persists even if the person doesn’t see them all the time. This particular person may not have needed daily interaction.

  42. Alie Capone*

    Not me, but my high school best friend went to Notre Dame, a catholic college, and became an RA her sophomore year. At that college, everyone of the opposite gender had to be out of the dorm at I think 11pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends, (if you still wanted to hang with the opposite sex, you could go to one of the 24 hour lounges.)
    One of her duties was to walk around the building at 10:45 and remind everyone of the deadline. After a few weeks of that she started dressing as Frollo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame and blasting the song Hellfire on a Bluetooth speaker.

    Then season 5? of Game of Thrones ended with Cersei’s penance walk. So my friend began walking around as the Septa, ringing a bell, and yelling “Shame” to get people to leave. Yeah, I don’t think she was made an RA again after that.

    1. Gingersnap*

      I was also an RA at a catholic college with similar rules and man I wish I had thought of these. Hilarity!

    2. Wendy City*

      This is incredible and your friend should have been promoted to head RA for this.

      Ok, maybe not, but I cried tears of laughter at this!

  43. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

    I have SO many stories – I even went into higher ed for 10 years after college to gather more, but a few from my RA days:

    I heard screaming and whimpering coming from a room late at night on a round with my co-RA. It sounded like some sort of domestic violence so we pounded on the door and finally a guy answered. A woman was crying in the back of the room so we insisted on speaking to her without him present. She finally came out of the room and told us they had been fooling around and put sriracha sauce in…places it should never go. Needless to say she got treated for a UTI and learned a valuable lesson.

    There was another time when a gross fraternity near my hall had signs in their yard for move-in “Dads – thanks for your daughters!” and two of my burlier fellow RAs went and ripped them up and yelled at the frat bros. Campus PD looked the other way to the vandalism and trespassing.

    I had one student pull a knife on me once (less about violence towards me, mostly a psychotic break to herself). We were waiting for PD to arrive but keeping an eye on her. She looked at me straight in the eye, pulled a carnival teddy bear out of her drawer and decapitated it in front of me, all the while maintaining eye contact. She didn’t remember any of it the next day, but I’ll never forget watching the body fall and stuffing spill out of the head in slow motion while she stared at me.

    A guy named Big Nizz threw beer bottles out of an 11th story window during a blackout. Luckily, he didn’t hit anybody.

    We had to replace the 420 room number plate at least once a year from it getting stolen.

    I took my residents trick-or-treating one year and we drove to the rich neighborhood for those glorious full sized bars. One house was having a giant party and invited us to join so in addition to big candy bars, we also got a full meal and plenty of offers of beer. True adult trick-or-treating.

    I had one resident with celiac’s disease decide to drink alcohol that wasn’t grain free. Found her seizing in a running shower one night. Her boyfriend thought the water would help wash out the gluten she had drank. We were NOT the academically gifted building, in case that wasn’t clear.

    Shall I continue?

    1. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

      My school was in Colorado and the altitude can really mess you up if you aren’t used to it. Every single opening weekend we’d have to transport so many people since they couldn’t metabolize alcohol and marijuana as well compared to their low altitude towns. The Californians especially thought they could hang and especially could not hang. One in particular took an elevator out of commission for several days due to expelling liquids and solids from both ends for about 10 minutes before being discovered and rescued.

    2. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

      We had 12 stories in my building and the top floor had a drop ceiling. We were told the tiles had to be popped each year to clean out things people threw in the ceiling. One room had about 100 used condoms up there. Another had about 200 beer cans – from a beer that was discontinued in the 80s. So no, I no longer felt obligated to pop the tiles every year.

    3. Don't Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

      My school was in Colorado and the altitude can really mess you up if you aren’t used to it. Every single opening weekend we’d have to send so many students to the hospital because they couldn’t metabolize alcohol and marijuana like they could in their lower altitude hometowns. The Californians especially thought they could hang and especially could not hang. One in particular took an elevator out of commission for several days due to expelling liquids and solids out of both ends for about 10 minutes before being discovered and rescued.

  44. FORMERHigherEdPerson*

    Was a summer RA and OA (orientation advisor), basically ran freshman orientation groups and served as an RA on their floor during the overnight program. As a 20-year old, it was awesome (free room/board, stipend, spent the summer hanging with my college friends).

    We had a few weeks of orientation break, and the res halls were taken over by an international youth conference, I think it was Odyssey of the Mind. I had a bunch of kids on my floor (literal kids) who were bouncing off the walls from jet lag and sugar, and didn’t speak a lot of English. One night, at about 4am, they were screaming in the hallways, so I went out and scolded them. I came out the next morning to a HUGE drawing on my door. It was of me, with sleep-hair everywhere, waving my hands around, and the little talk bubble had “SHUT UP!” written in it. It was adorable and hilarious and I laughed my ass off. They caught me laughing at it, looked a little guilty, but we came to a mutual understanding afterwards.

  45. DEJ*

    Heard secondhand, but an RA once told me about the time that Girl A had an overnight visitor and the (intoxicated) overnight visitor was trying to find the restroom and instead went into Girl B’s room and urinated in her trash can. Girl A was apparently appropriately horrified and did clean out Girl B’s trash can.

    1. PJ*

      “the (intoxicated) overnight visitor was trying to find the restroom and instead went into Girl B’s room and urinated in her trash can”

      And here I thought my father flipping over the outdoor furniture and mistaking it for a toilet lid was unusual!

    2. christine crang*

      OMG, I once came out of my dorm room at 2 in the morning on a friday night (up late working on a paper) to find a neighbour carrying a wooden dining-type chair from her room into the bathroom. Apparently her intoxicated boyfriend had mistaken it for a toilet and taken a dump on it.

    3. Blueberry Girl*

      In college, three of my friends and I were all in my friends room watching a movie on the laptop (like you did in the early 2000s). Some utterly random totally drunk dude just walked in (we hadn’t locked the door), tried to pee in her trashcan, and kept calling us all “Stacy” though none of our names were “Stacy.” We managed to get him to leave though yelling at him loudly and then someone got up and guided him to the door. After that, we always locked the door!

  46. Frideag Dachaigh*

    Sort of a reverse story- but my first year of college, my RA, who despite living with in a house with only 10 people on a small close knit campus, I really hadn’t had any conversations with, texted me out of the blue at 7 AM to ask if I would drive her to court 20 minutes away from campus. I did, because I had nothing better to do and she offered me like $20.

  47. Leave the skunk alone*

    I was an RA to cover housing in a popular private college in a very rural area my Junior and Senior years. I dealt with a lot of entitled rich kids in the freshman dorms. We had a lot of students from NYC and Boston, almost all of whom had nightmare parents and most of the students freaked out freaked out when they saw deer or other wildlife.

    One of the more entitled freshman was on his last warning for underage drinking and came to the dorms wasted. This kid thought the dorm was the Ritz Carlton and I was the concierge. I got so many calls from his mom that his (single) room wasn’t being cleaned and his laundry wasn’t being done. That kid was the bane of my existence.

    He came back wasted and there was a skunk by the dumpsters and you guessed it. He started waving his coat at the skunk. Me and the RD were outside trying to get him in and quiet because he was also injured and we had called EMS (just some cuts it turned out, but also very drunk and needed an IV). It turns out he was interrupting a skunk family get together and he got sprayed by at least three adult skunks. Because he was waving his jacket he whiffed all the spray at himself. Like he scooped it up out of the air and waved the cloud of it at himself, getting triple dosed. The EMTs couldn’t get him in the ambulance without gagging and laughing. He got back to the dorms later in the morning, a little sheepish saying the nurses made him shower with dish soap and peroxide and gave him scrubs to wear back.
    His mother tried to get me fired but the head of housing laughed at her and told her all of his exploits, including his dangerously low GPA. He wet home for winter break, came back an entirely different kid, stayed sober the rest of the year he was in my building and even apologized.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Oh! That reminds me of a good one. This isn’t mine, but someone made a call to the reslife office because they could smell an odor and they thought that there was a skunk in the basement area of one of the residence halls. Unfortunately, given the nature of that particular campus, the person who took the call sent the campus police instead of calling animal control, assuming (not unreasonably) that the smell was marijuana instead.

      It was actually a skunk, and the cops busting in terrified it. The entire basement area was never the same again.

  48. Gingersnap*

    Couple of other highlights as I’m remembering things:
    – our building had several coveted four person suites in an actual tower. Large rooms, gorgeous windows, private bathrooms. However the tower was only accessible via a spiral staircase to the fourth and fifth floors. No elevator in any part of the building. Some of the residents forgot (or more likely purposefully) did not tell their parents about that tiiiiiiny detail and come move-in day there were some extremely irate parents.

    – Another move-in day gem: I had a mother absolutely scream at me when I reminded her that the fire doors needed to be kept closed. Ya know, per fire department regs, and my boss. I get it sucks when moving but screaming at the student messenger is really not the way to go.

    – well into the aught-tens, the RA’s at my college were still using pagers while on call because there were still several persistent cell phone dead zones on campus and the school was convinced we would be in one of these dead zones during an emergency so we had to have pagers. We all wore them on our shirt collars while on call so that our friends could see from miles away that we were on call and avoid us if they were doing anything illicit!

    1. Anne Shirley*

      Worked two move-in days and haaaated them. Everyone has been awake too long or driving too long, there’s never enough parking, tempers are high, and there’s such pressure from admin to be upbeat and welcoming the whole time. My second year they literally bought t-shirts for staff that said “I <3 MOVE IN DAY!" which were universally loathed.

  49. SaffyTaffy*

    I hope a story ABOUT an RA counts. My RA (who was named after a breakfast food) kept locking his keys in his room, a thing that was only even possible because he regularly used his window as a quick exit. Finally he couldn’t find his keys anywhere, and they were lost for good. His next-door neighbor had already punched a hole in the drywall between their rooms, so to solve the key problem, my RA enlarged the hole until he could climb onto a bureau and crawl through it into his room.
    At the end of the semester, they patched the hole with duct tape, painted over it, and said nothing.

        1. SaffyTaffy*

          Heehee, you’re both wrong. I’m so hoping somebody else from my wonderful, chaotic, absurd school reads Ask a Manager and will get the name right.

  50. Veryanon*

    My only RA story involves the Resident Director of our freshman dorm, an adult man in his 30’s, secretly hooking up with one of the girls on my floor (who was 17, I believe) and eloping with her mid-year when she discovered she was pregnant. This was at a Catholic college in the mid-1980’s, so it was quite the scandal. He ended up getting fired and she left school (or was expelled; there were varying theories floating around). I sometimes wonder what happened to them. I hope they were happy, but even in 1986 it was creepy for a 30-something year old man to be with a 17 year old girl.

  51. BadLibrarian*

    So many stories! One night I did my first rounds through the halls and ran into a group of guys bringing in a case of beer. I walked them to a sink and made them pour it out, I wrote up an incident report and had them sign it. They weren’t troublemakers and were very respectful and apologetic. I set an alarm to do my later rounds. I get up and I’m walking through the hall and run across the exact same guys walking through the hall with a case of beer again. This time I am livid. I start yelling at them to get down to the sink room to pour out the beer and telling them I can’t believe they are this stupid. One of them started crying and asked me if I was going to call his mom since they got caught a second time. The worst was when I had to mediate between two male students (I’m a woman and had two floors of men, scored my own bathroom) because one of them was “taking care of himself” while his roommate was in the room.

  52. Joyce To the World*

    This is my guilty conscious talking. I had the nicest RA my freshman year. The year progressed and the sun came out and so did the bare legs all shiny with baby oil. Trying to follow the trend one morning I shaved my legs and coated the baby oil all over them. The oil went all over the floor. I didn’t notice and it was very slippery. My poor RA stepped into the shower after me and promptly landed on her ass on the cold hard tiles. She posted a note on the bathroom door, but I went to her and admitted it was me and went in and cleaned up. That was the last time I used oil in the dorm shower. I still feel so bad over 30 years later.

  53. Conduct Board*

    I wasn’t an RA, but I was on the Student Conduct Board as an undergrad, which was where you could appeal disciplinary measures related to breaking the dorm rules. We mostly saw eviction cases, which were a big deal since room and board was paid by semester and you’d lose that, but still have to find alternate housing to finish the semester. Some students brought lawyers, even though they could only speak to the student and not to us, so it was a pretty serious thing.

    Most cases were related to underage drinking or drug use in the dorms, but there were a few scarier things like stalking and weapons. The most memorable case was a student who had her mom sleep over in the dorms during finals week, and the two were apparently laughing and being loud all night. When the student’s roommate asked the duo to lower the volume, they started loudly conspiring about plans for how the mom would grab the roommate and hold her down while the daughter would beat the roommate. Although we couldn’t discipline the mom, the daughter was removed from on-campus housing, and I think couldn’t go near any buildings the roommate frequented.

  54. Anon for this one*

    So, I supervise RAs and have so many stories…mad poopers, soda bottles filled with pee thrown out windows or spilled on carpets, full takeout containers of Chinese food thrown out windows at passers-by, ceramic mugs/bowls thrown out windows, full on sexual escapades in common areas, irate homeless folks in the building to charm the ladies by handing out flowers, resident operating a pill-selling business out of their dorm room, resident hiding a dog in their room…the list goes on. My my all-time favorite: RA on rounds, smells weed. Tracks it to a particular door and proceeds to knock on said door (and calls the campus police, as per policy). No answer, but RA can hear the sound of a window opening, objects being moved, people talking. RA knocks again and calls out they they can hear the residents. Resident answers the door and opens it a bit. RA says they smell the odor of MJ from their room and can they inspect, please? Resident says “okay, no weed here, honest!” Both move into the main area of the room. Resident moves to the bed, lifts up comforter with a flourish, again saying “See, no weed here!” Except… a baggie of weed was on the bed, and when the comforter was flung up, the baggie went flying through their air. Resident then takes their foot, STOMPS ON THE BAGGIE, puncturing the bag and WEED BITS fly all over the place as the bag bursts. So epic. I was crying with tears of laughter once I finished reading this report.

  55. Zipperhead*

    The one story I always tell about my time as an RA: the dorm closed, of course, during Spring Break, and that was when we would check every room, partly to make sure all the appliances were turned off and partly to check for obvious contraband. As long as the lights were off, the coffee maker was unplugged, the room was moderately clean, and all the illegal stuff was hidden away in drawers, everything was fine.

    We came to one room that had been utterly and absolutely trashed. Floor tiles had been pulled up, the walls and desk were filthy and possibly singed. And they’d left a ball of marijuana the size of a tennis ball on the desk where anyone could see it.

    We reported it to the higher-ups in Housing. Nothing happened to the residents, which was, unfortunately, par for the course.

  56. Small Liberal Arts College RA*

    Oh, the stories I could tell.

    Two incidents really stood out to me. The first, a set of students had gotten a Christmas tree, which was cute and I was 100% down to ignore the rules on that because who can hate on a Christmas tree. That was, until the tree was still up in March, April, May….I continued to look the other way until one drunken night, they doused the tree in gasoline and drug it through the halls of the dorm and out into the quad to light it rather dramatically on fire. When campus security showed up and (very very easily) figured out which room it had come from, they got mad at me for not covering for them!

    The other involved a student called…well, let’s call him Honey Badger. He was very into living off the land, foraging for food, bringing back road kill to roast on a spit, that kind of thing. One night, I got a call from a fellow RA simply stating “Did you know that honey badger is curing deer hides in the basement?” I did not know. I wish I still did not know. After a rather frantic read through the rule book (nothing explicitly prohibited this, at least as far as we could tell), we decided it was above our pay grade and went to bed. I’m still not sure what happened that night, but last I heard he’d left school and was helping reclaim a parking lot “for the land” and blogging about it.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      . . . I somewhat wonder if you went to my school. I don’t know that these things, specifically, happened there but they definitely could have.

    2. Blueberry Girl*

      This 100% could have happened at my Uni, but the deer hides would have been squirrel.

  57. Evelyn Carnahan*

    My freshman year of college, we had a floor meeting on move-in day where our RA had us introduce ourselves to everyone on the floor then asked who wanted a fake ID. I thought it was some kind of trap but no, she helped everyone who raised their hand get a fake ID. I don’t think she ever did any other RA type activities except encourage one of the people on the floor to open their window when they smoked pot so they would stop setting off the fire alarm right outside their door.

  58. franklin*

    Secondhand story from my sister: her college recently had a serial arsonist who kept setting fires in and around toilets, often with poop involved, in my sister’s dorm and the one next to it. These are freshmen buildings, to be clear, so the first years all thought this was some exciting prank. The RAs, of course, were incredibly alarmed, because you could maybe explain this happening once or twice but it happening repeatedly is really disturbing. The RAs, who were not payed and only provided housing, were asked to be extra on guard; they were, but no one was able to catch this person. Eventually the school called the FBI to create a criminal profile of this person. It’s been a year, the toilet arsonist still periodically burns freshmen toilets, and half the RAs, my sister included, have quit. They literally don’t get paid so why be held responsible for dealing with a serial arsonist?

  59. HowIMetYourUncle*

    When I was an RA, we had a “Phantom Pee-er” that plagued our dorm. Every Friday/Saturday night for about 3 months straight, we had to brace ourselves whenever we did routine walks around the building because we would inevitably come across a ‘wet spot’ in a stairwell, in the corner of a hallway, or in some of the common areas. Of course, we completed these routine walks around the building during the night, so the janitorial staff wasn’t available, so we either had to mark it off to be cleaned the next day or try to tackle the issue ourselves. It became a mission for all of the RA’s in our building because we had no idea who this person was. I’m sorry to say that we never did figure it out, but the “Phantom Pee-er” did end up stopping their tirade randomly during the school year. It does make me giggle though to think that there’s probably some random adult out there now who’s recounting war stories of their time in college and how they sent the RAs in their dorm into a frenzy to track them down haha.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        And just what the ever loving HECK is up with these phantom poopers? That is SO gross on so many levels

  60. William*

    I was on duty one Saturday in my second year as an RA. Sometime late that night, the flip phone we were assigned while on duty rang with info about a conflict on another floor. After dragging myself out of bed to respond, I learned that a black resident had pasted on her door, in large print, a racial slur and a lock of hair (the origin of which we never uncovered). Said resident was at the time berating her floor’s RA for his “not doing anything” after previous alleged incidents. Keep in mind all this is happening while numerous non-students were throwing gas on the fire so to speak, building up the situation to a frenzy. I followed procedure and called public safety, had the non-students leave, and filed a lengthy report of the situation.

    Of course, an event as extreme as this did not just disappear into the ether as so many other ones would. There was university and statewide outcry, with our then-president issuing a formal statement condemning the act. A full-scale police investigation also followed. Sometime in the middle of all of this that floor’s RA quit.

    Fast forward a few weeks. Another staff member in my building, one who personally knew the resident with the hair and racial slur taped to her door that night, showed me direct messages from said resident admitting to faking the entire incident for publicity. At that point things had calmed down considerably, and this admission make little to no waves now that the damage had been done.

  61. Anne Shirley*

    I was an RA for two years that were, blessedly, pretty uneventful. I didn’t love it but really needed the free housing.

    One story that stands out actually happened 11 years ago today– my co-RA bailed on me for the overnight on call, and I was worried about being on by myself on St Patrick’s Day. I worked on a freshman girls’ floor, and I came out of the bathroom at one point and found a dude pouring a bottle of water on the hallway carpet? It was clearly just water, and didn’t even leave a stain, but I have always wondered why. He saw me, bolted into a stairwell, and set off the fire exit alarm.

    One girl either hated me, the floormates, or just thought it was fun to set her stereo on a timer to start blasting, concrete-wall-shaking loud at different times of day when she was away. Keying into someone’s room was a big deal, and you needed the director’s permission to use the master key, so it was always a huge pain in the ass and never a quick process to get the door open and turn it off. This happened three times and then my boss got her to stop (I don’t know how; I assume threatened loss of housing?).

    Another group, when I was in the upperclassmen apartments, tried to disable the hardwired smoke detector by covering it in toothpaste? Don’t know why they thought that would work, but they set it off smoking weed, the campus FD came, and at least one student was arrested due to the quantity of weed in the apt (I had no part in the arrest, just the evacuation bit).

    1. Salymander*

      That girl with the stereo timer sounds like a real peach. I had a housemate like that who used her incredibly loud and annoying alarm clock the same way when she was gone on weekends. It was set to go off on the at weird times, different each weekend. She even admitted that it was done on purpose just to be a jerk. She was friends with our terrible RA, and he refused to unlock her room so we could shut the thing off. I got tired of having to wait for campus police to show up hours later, so I started breaking into her room every Friday after she left and turning off her alarms. No one knew how to break in because the locks were supposed to be hard to pick. I just unscrewed the peephole in the door, stuck a bent coat hanger through the he, and used it to hook the door handle to open it. It was incredibly easy and quick. I superglued my door’s peephole just in case anyone figured it out, but no one ever did while I was there. The rude housemate with the alarm was pretty confused when her alarm kept getting switched off and no one had been called to open the door. On the evening before the first day of spring break I broke in and set her alarm to go off at 4:30am and 5am, with the volume cranked all the way up. She had been looking forward to sleeping in. Such a pity.

    2. Jackalope*

      One year the student in the room next to mine went to study abroad for a month and left her alarm on. Thankfully it must have been for an afternoon nap or something since it went off around 3:00 pm and it wasn’t hideously loud, but it did go off for an hour every single day for the entire month.

  62. Belle of the Midwest*

    My experience as a Grad assistant residence director included:

    1. running the dorm for two weeks while the director’s husband was hospitalized. The first Friday night, one of our front desk workers (who was scheduled to work the next morning at 9:00am) stumbled into the lobby rip-roaring drunk. She had made a very poor grade on a test in a major course that day, so she went to the downtown bar area and had “Lots of beer,” I got her out of the lobby and up to her room, where I found several empty and half-empty beer bottles. At that point, she knew she was in deep, deep trouble and got really contrite. While I poured out the leftover beer into her sink, I gave her two choices: a. Show up to work her full shift the next morning, or b. skip her shift but I would tell the director what had happened. The next morning, she showed up to work, red-eyed and hung over–but she worked her shift. And we never spoke of it again.

    2. The 6th floor of our dorm was a “sorority” floor and as it happened this particular chapter of this particular sorority was full of your stereotypical rich city girls. i absolutely hated going up to their floor and only went when necessary (such as accompanying maintenance workers or doing room inspections) because except for one or two of them, they were absolutely frosty and dismissive to anyone not part of their chapter. One Saturday morning in the fall, I got a call from the front desk that we had a situation up on 6. It seems that one of the fraternities had their pledges sneak into the dorm and leave a live chicken in the women’s room sometime in the night. My front desk girl (not the one in my first story) called security to come get the chicken, but in the meantime, I had to go up to Floor 6 and stay with these freaked out girls until the chicken was caught and removed. I have never heard such squealing and squalling and of course, it just freaked out the chicken that much more.
    We knew that the fraternity had some help from inside the dorm, because the elevators were behind the front desk and the fire exits were always locked. But we never found out who helped them. And no, the girls on floor 6 did not learn anything from this experience. They remained as aloof and clique-ish as ever.

  63. Mitford*

    Not an RA, but here’s a story from a friend who was….

    Our alma mater, in its infinite wisdom, during the late 1970s, managed to schedule the weekend accepted high school seniors visited the campus with a Grateful Dead concert in our basketball arena. The campus was inundated with Deadheads, who apparently thought they could just pitch tents and camp anywhere on campus for the night, and the closer you got to the hall the stronger the smell of pot became. The Deadheads also quickly figured out which dorms had communal bathrooms instead of suites and infiltrated those buildings to use the restrooms and take showers. (Back in the 1970s, the card key system for the buildings only went into effect at night; everything was wide open during the day.)

    In between throwing Deadheads out of her dorm’s bathrooms, my friend spent a fun weekend dealing with high school seniors who were either traumatized by the mayhem or wanted to join in on all the fun (best! school! ever!).

    It’s been over 40 years now, and people who were there still remember that weekend.

  64. h2ofilter*

    I was 19 and really didn’t have any life experience to be an RA. A girl on my floor found out her dad was embezzling and it was about to break on the (local) newspapers. He was paying for her college. This was the 90’s. I gave her my VHS copy of Say Anything because I thought it would help. I didn’t refer her to mental health support or anything. This incident is a favorite one my brain pulls up at 3am to make me cringe over at least once a year.

  65. DW*

    My dorm had a problem with a food thief. No doubt they noticed people would buy extra goodies that the dining hall didn’t have, put them in the communal fridges and then forget about them. Eventually the problem got too big and my RA had to put up signs saying:

    “DOES THE FOOD/STUFF BELONG TO YOU?

    NO —> DON’T EAT/TOUCH IT
    YES —> DO WHATEVER YOU WANT WITH IT

    Why do I need to make these signs? How old are you guys? Why do people think they can just use other people’s stuff and eat other people’s food without asking? Especially without cleaning up after. Like WTF guys? All questions I’d like answered. I would assume people in college managed to get through kindergarten, and therefore learned some common courtesy.

    – RA Brian”

    This is verbatim what it said, because I thought it was so funny that I took a picture. I hope whoever ate my cookie dough enjoyed it…

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Bet Brian had a rude awakening when he discovered that office food thieves (and mad poopers) exist too.

    2. Lizzo*

      Brian should have made some five alarm chili or similarly outrageously spicy food to help find the thief…

  66. A Simple Narwhal*

    I was an RA, and oooh boy could I go on and on about how my campus coordinator (my boss’s boss) was insane. For some background, the hierarchy went RAs – one per floor, lived in a dorm room; Hall Manager – one per dorm building, was usually a grad student, lived in one of the dorms but in a special separate apartment; Campus Coordinator – one per cluster of dorms, was an adult in a professional role, usually lived nearby, not typically involved in day to day dorm happenings, but someone who works in the background.

    So for starters my Campus Coordinator (CC) skirted the standard option and actually lived inside our dorm. It was technically an apartment, but this was still a woman in her 40s with a husband and two young children living inside a dormitory surrounded by college students. She would even block common areas for her kids’ events – I remember once we were told we couldn’t use the main lobby or backyard area because she was throwing a birthday party for her kid. Again, this is in a college dorm. I guess she lived there and was allowed to do that, but it just seems like a very weird place to bring up young kids.

    Another thing about her was the she was INTENSE. I guess that’s to be expected from someone who loved residence life so much she moved her family into a dorm, but it was rough trying to live up to her expectations. In the past, my experience with RAs was that they were around if we needed anything, we said hi in the hallway, and that was about it. CC insisted that we become experts on all the students in the dorm and would routinely quiz us on them. She expected that we knew all of their names, their majors, who their friends were, anything they were involved with on campus, their interests, etc. It was a LOT. And while I was friendly with my residents, I wasn’t their best friend, and it felt really weird (and stressful!) trying to tease information out of them or resort to facebook stalking so that CC wouldn’t flip out on me for not having a new thing to share about each of my ~30 residents.

    On top of everything, I was incredibly busy. It was my junior year and my coursework had intensified, I was on two sports teams, I was involved in several clubs, and I also occasionally liked to eat, sleep, and spend time with friends. When I was hired, CC specifically said she liked how I was involved in so many things, and she admired my commitment and dedication. I even gave her my schedule for the year (including exact times and dates of practices and tournaments, when clubs met, etc), so she knew exactly when and for how long I would absolutely have be out of the dorm for my other commitments. It was all cleared with her ahead of time. And despite all of this, she started hinting that she didn’t like me leaving the dorm, that I should always be around in case my residents needed me, I shouldn’t ever close my door unless I was sleeping, did I have to go to the library to study couldn’t I just stay in my room and study with the door open so my residents could access me, and then outright told me I should quit my teams midseason so I could spend more time at the dorm. It was nuts, and I’m glad that I refused her insane requests. But she certainly let me know at every possible turn that she was not happy with my “lack of commitment to the dorm”. Overall she made me miserable and contributed to a lot of stress. I thought I was a failure, but I really just had an insane CC – no other CC on campus was this involved in the day to day life of their residents. I’m even still friends with a bunch of my former residents, so I wasn’t even that bad of an RA! She just made me think I was because her standards lived on the moon.

    I could go on and on, but suffice it to say I was not an RA the next year, and was much happier for it! But the best part of all this is that she later went on an episode of House Hunters (finally left the dorms I guess!), and she looks completely unhinged. Every negative thing I had to deal with is out there on full display, and everyone who’s seen the episode has immediately told me what a nightmare she must have been to work for. So a little bit of delicious schadenfreude!

  67. Andrea*

    I was an RA at a dorm next to the frat quad. We would have to do room checks for various reasons but weren’t allowed to open closets or refrigerators or things like that, or confiscate items we couldn’t see. One time we went into a loud room of freshmen and… they had a glass-doored refrigerator. Filled with Busch Lite. Which promptly got confiscated and poured down the sink, leading to the new adage “freshmen in loud party rooms shouldn’t have glass refrigerators.” Facepalm.

  68. PJ*

    I was *not* an RA, but I was the poorer cousin, the night receptionist in a dorm building. I often had to coordinate with RAs – we got along great. A coked out visitor screamed at us and called us “the Narc Squad” and the name stuck. I should have had those t-shirts made!

    The issues in my role were always either drunkenness or Person A and Person B broke up, and one or the other was trying to get in to see the other. Obviously keeping residents secure is no laughing matter and I had to call campus security more than once on overzealous dudes who tripped my creep-o-meter….but I did have to laugh at the very sad disguise one guy tried to wear to get in to see his ex-gf. He looked like a cross between Sonny Bono (really bad faux mustache) and a child wearing his father’s raincoat.

    Oh, and the flashers…..I saw an inordinate amount of posteriors and penises. At least one male student a weekend would lose various and/or all items of clothing before arriving back at the building. And the occasional peeing – peeing outside, in the lobby, in the elevators, etc.

    Luckily, campus security was really good about patrols, and – for a somewhat rural-ish state school in the rust belt in the 90s – they took the security of female students VERY seriously. We also had a “buddy system” that had a high participation rate.

    1. cubone*

      ” the poorer cousin, the night receptionist in a dorm building” – this is too accurate. All the RAs became friends with the front desk folks and brought them pizza during night shifts so they’d give us our mail quicker.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      One time I gained the enmity of the entire front desk crew because my dad decided to ship me one of those animatronic twerking valentine’s day corgis, and it had activated in the box. And since my dad didn’t tell me about this, I didn’t know I had any packages to pick up, and the front desk staff never told us when that was the case… All of which meant I left it for six days until one of the front desk people actively flagged me down and begged me to take the package. Which was still shaking slightly and singing.

      I didn’t even want the corgi, so I took out the batteries and said that if they wanted to destroy it for its sins I was happy to let them do so; they accepted the corgi from me. I assume it met an ignoble death.

      1. frystavirki*

        Every time I read this comment I break into hysteric laughter imagining the RAs and the gyrating noisy box. I’ve gotten a few odd things delivered to dorms (I bought a doll wig and shoes on the internet my first semester and sent them to my school mailbox; if I recall correctly I was not confident enough in the school mail system to get the doll delivered there since it cost $200 aka the vast majority of my disposable money) but never anything that could move on its own.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I think the only thing that saved me was that I was clearly and visibly confused and horrified at what could possibly be in the package (and that I was willing to open it up in front of them).

          It’s a funny story, but I feel terrible for the poor folks who were dealing with six days of this.

  69. Anonymouse*

    We once discovered that someone was bottling their urine and leaving it in the trash room. I also once had a graduate student’s father call to complain that his adult child’s dorm building had (empty!) mouse traps. We lived in a city, if you didn’t have mouse traps you would have mice! Also the law student in question was 24!

  70. Claudia*

    I was not an RA, but freshman year I and my friends would complain to our RA about the hallway outside our neighbors’ door (and therefore, our door) constantly smelling strongly of weed. Nothing was done. Found out later the RA started buying her weed from our neighbors.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I suppose buying weed from the weed-smoking neighbors is, technically, doing something about it.

  71. cubone*

    RA for 3 years (and I am SO GLAD we get this time to shine! I was literally sitting on my couch, scrolling and this made me run to my laptop out of sheer excitement).

    the good:
    -The Ghost Cat: a bunch of students were adamant a student in a single room had an illicit cat that they could smell/hear/etc. But no one had seen it. I tried to have a somewhat vague conversation with the student to see if they would admit to it, then finally just asked outright and they said it was absurd. But then! They moved out over winter break and maintenance found a cat litter box in the room.

    -We Know You’re Doing It: multiple stories in this category but my favorite is: music being absolutely BLASTED from a student’s room; I knocked multiple times to now avail and suddenly her roommate pops out of another room and says “oh her boyfriend’s visiting and they just……. love really loud music! They’re just big fans of concerts and stuff!” I say I really don’t care, it just needs to be toned down but also LOL. Sure Jan.

    the bad:
    -Geopolitical Warfare: some brainiac in the housing office put 2 international students together: one from Israel and one from Palestine. It was actually kind of incredible – they had no fights, aggression, or other bad behavior but they Did Not Acknowledge Each Other. At all. The whole year.

    the ugly:
    -this is probably the bummer to end on but just… mental health crises galore. This was pre.. the last few years where I think schools have (hopefully) made some significant improvements and we tried our best but the comprehension of mental health was so abysmal compared to now. In all honesty though, I feel really lucky to have learned so much about it during this time and it made a huge difference in my life and career trajectory. And I hope all my students are still doing well.

    Oh and lastly for the parents out there: for the love of god, please don’t shelter your kid their whole life and force them to select the “Quiet Floor” in their dorm so that they “study” and “don’t get distracted”. PLEASE. The extremely sheltered kids consistently had so many more challenges and adjustment issues than the kids who went to college with a bit of independence under their belt. Just don’t do it!!!!

    1. Nea*

      OMG, first semester Freshman year I had a roommate who answered the detailed housing questions with the fact that she never drank, never smoked, never stayed up late, etc.

      Once she came back to the room just long enough to throw up on her sheets, pull them off the bed, and throw them in a corner and not come back – for a WEEK!

      Her excuse was that it would “get her to study” and she was shocked! Shocked! that when she tried to get me kicked out of the room the Dean said I didn’t have to move because she was the one who lied.

      1. cubone*

        every building I was in had a “quiet floor” and every year, my colleague who was the quiet floor RA was HAGGARD by the end of it. We only ever saw evictions from the quiet floors, and not for noise – one was drug dealing, one was the hallway slip and slide, one was HUMAN TRAFFICKING. I am convinced it is 80% students whose parents complete the forms, 15% students who think they want a quiet floor and then get drunk with independence, and 5% the poor, tragic few who actually want some quiet.

        1. F.M.*

          I was in a whole Quiet Dorm my first year of undergrad, and I would say it was about 90% students who actually wanted the quiet–but that’s because only about 10% of the slots were available to frosh at all. So it was a dorm full of anxious seniors trying to get their comps & honors papers completed, and a handful frosh who were about 50/50 “wanted to be there” and “thought it would be a good idea but it wasn’t”/”forced into it by parents”.

          I was in the first half of that group. My roommate was in the second half. I do not remember that person fondly.

      2. nmitford*

        My freshman year I had a roommate whose parents completed her questionnaire for her while she spent the summer visiting extended family in another country. She pretty much came to college prepared to do everything her parents had never let her do in high school, and then some.

        The first Saturday night there, I was sound asleep at 3:00 a.m. when the door burst open and two fraternity guys dragged her in and put her on her bed. The second weekend, she came back to the room with two paper cups chanting, “This is my right lens,” [holds out right hand] and “This is my left lens” [holds out left hand]. This was in the era of hard contact lenses, and the fraternity guys were concerned about her passing out with her lenses still in, so they’d made her take them out and put them in two paper cups with an inch of water.

    2. UnicornRA*

      I once had to do a “welfare” check on a kid who hadn’t been seen in quite some time on campus. I was CONVINCED I was going to walk into the room and find the kid dead in there. Luckily he wasn’t even in the room. He ended up dropping out and I never saw him again. I hope he’s doing better out there somewhere!

      But also they should not have been asking RAs to check rooms of kids they were worried had k*lled themselves!! Traumatizing.

      1. cubone*

        tw on su*c*de here for sure:
        I actually work adjacent to college life now (in mental health! as said – changed my career trajectory) and I am fascinated (but devastated) having to participate in a few committees for different colleges creating or reviewing their su*c*de response policies and protocols. It is… just speechless. And so much of the speechless stuff is to be blunt, exceedingly “practical” – who checks on the person, who calls who, who comes in to do what tasks. One of my RA colleagues responded to an attempt and still deals with PTSD around it, 10+ years later. The school was pretty supportive (in comparison to other nightmares I heard), but its just wild how some RAs deal with mad poopers and some deal with literal death. And some get both.

    3. tinybutfierce*

      As one of those former sheltered kids mentioned in your last paragraph, heartily concurring. I went from barely being able to leave the house without adult supervision to being “on my own” about an hour away at college, and had a ROUGH first month or so because I just didn’t really know how to Person on my own at all (an undiagnosed anxiety disorder also didn’t help). I’m very thankful for the older transfer students who saw my poor awkward, panicked self and took me under their wing; they helped me and improved my experience so much, and became some of my lifelong BFFs to boot. :’)

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      I so agree about the sheltered kids. I went to a religious college, and the sheltered students were the ones who went wild. And it was pretty hard back then. When I started, the women still had hours, etc.

      The woman’s dean (ex missionary) couldn’t give us an answer during a sit-in when she explained that women had to have hours, so that the men would go in at night. (they didn’t have that kind of restrictions).

      1. Nanani*

        What does “have hours” mean here? Like a curfew or something? I genuinely don’t know.

        1. Blueberry Girl*

          Hours at a religious college usually mean that visitors were only allowed during certain hours of the day and only in public spaces.

          1. Nanani*

            ooooh, thanks!
            Visiting hours sounds so quaint and victorian, and I never would have figured that out on my own ^^

    5. JustaTech*

      A bit of independence and some really basic life skills!
      I went to a super-nerd school and it was somewhere between hilarious and sad the really basic stuff that some people had to have explicitly spelled out for them.

      Hilarious: fabric softener is not detergent, you need to clean your clothes with soap.

      Sad: You need to bathe and wear clean clothes. That means changing at least your underpants every day. (An upperclassman friend explained this to some incoming freshmen as “You won’t always have time for laundry, so bring a month’s worth of underwear and socks, and at least 2 weeks of shirts. Jeans you can wear until they stand up on their own.”

      Our housing questionnaire said on it, in several places “Parents, do not fill this out for your student.”

    6. Hanani*

      I don’t work in ResLife (y’all are saints!) and I do think mental health stuff has gotten better, but so many of the college students I teach still aren’t getting the support they need.

      RAs are the ones to ask about who is Good People though. My institution has seen a ton of employee turnover, and my students who are RAs are the best source for which ResLife or Student Life folks are the best resource is a student is dealing with x.

    7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Arrgh, parents who fill out dorm selections for their students! I went to hippy-run alternative schools with minimal adult supervision starting at age 12, was pretty independent by the time I went off to college at 17, and knew that I was not a partier, not a drinker, not a smoker, and generally wanted to quietly a read a book. I knew this because I went to a middle and high school where I could have easily made very different choices, and given the option of taking acid in the middle of the school day or reading a book, I’d choose read a book every time. So, I chose to live in the Substance Free dorm, which was indeed a pretty good fit for my intended lifestyle of book-reading, attending classes, and not drinking.

      Every fall we’d end up with multiple freshmen who were quickly moved to other dorms because they were more Free! Substances! than Substance Free. They had never filled out their own housing forms, and I think in some cases their parents thought the school’s Substance Free dorm would come with extra supervision like we were a rehab facility rather than a college. It was particularly bad the year the school was also overcrowded so it was really difficult to find new places to put them. (I think they eventually swapped on a one-to-one basis with the students who had not initially selected a substance free hall but who were tired of the drunken antics in the other dorms and were willing to exchange potential drunken Saturday nights for bathrooms with less vomit and fewer “prank” fire alarms.)

      I wonder if this is better now that the housing forms (presumably) come by email rather than being mailed, so parents are less likely to see and intercept them. (Or do parents read kids’ email now? Mine never did, but my mom was a reluctant tech adopter and didn’t even have an email address or a clear idea of how to use the internet at the time, and my dad didn’t really see “parent” as a verb that might apply to him.)

  72. Enough*

    Applied but did not get hired as an RA. Which was probably the best. the interview process was other RAs doing the interview with questions where the answer always was talking to those involved and then reporting them if it didn’t change and they didn’t seem to care much about the process. Ironic as there were girls in my dorm who though my roommate and I were the RAs. We certainly seemed to be the most mature and level headed girls on our floor.

    One year had an RA who always had her boyfriend over when she had weekend duty for the whole dorm. How did you know he was there? The bed squeaked. The real issue though was she smoked (cigarettes, it was the 70s). I don’t think she ever opened her window and the hallway outside her door reeked even when the door was closed.

  73. Nea*

    Not an RA, but there was a similar experience to the original story on our campus – some incredibly loud students who wouldn’t keep it down ever after RAs visited them.

    In this case, the RAs couldn’t trip the circuit breaker but they could very quietly tell the rest of the people in that dorm wing to be elsewhere the first night of finals… and to turn their radios up before they left.

  74. irritable vowel*

    I lasted all of one semester as an RA at a large state university. It just wasn’t worth the free room and the tiny stipend they gave us ($26.88 a week, yes I remember the amount even though it was 30 years ago). The worst part was being on duty, which meant you could be summoned at any time during the night to deal with issues in the whole building, not just your floor/section. Around Halloween, campus police called me after I was already asleep for the night to tell me that they had reports of kids in my dorm throwing pumpkins out a window at cars, and could I go tell them to stop. Like, isn’t that their job? I moved off-campus the next semester.

  75. hezdispenser*

    I was an RA in a section of townhouse style apartments for junior/senior/graduate students at a small private college. There were 2 sections of apartments, each arranged in an oval-ish shape, with a building in the center that housed the laundry room and RA offices. On move in day, it had been absolutely pouring rain and I was on duty with a fellow RA from 8 PM until 2 AM. We had to walk a few rounds through both sections of apartments, telling loud parties to turn the music down etc. Around midnight, we saw someone peeing on the side of one of the buildings. As good RAs, we obviously had to write this up – so we called the very attractive, very shirtless, and very drunk man over near the center building to get out of the rain and collect his information for the write up. He told us he was helping his cousin move in and was not a student, and generally batted his eyelashes and sweet talked us into letting him go with just a warning not to pee in public since he wasn’t actually a student. As he turned to walk away, a student came out of the center building and said “Hey Evan! I’m so excited that we are townhouse neighbors this year!” So the attractive, shirtless, drunk guy was actually a student the whole time and we had to write him up and include that he also lied to us in the report.

  76. Cat Lover*

    In grad school, I was an assistant residence director. Basically I was the assistant to the full time director, and together we managed two freshman dorms. It was nice, I lived in the bottom floor of the dorm in a nice apartment in a newly renovated dorm.

    One Saturday, a super drunk kid was roaming the lobby looking confused. He was visiting friends (he was not a student) and was lost. I told him I wouldn’t call the cops if his friends came to get him. He called his buddy and said he was “with some girls” (me and an RA on duty). They were fellow freshman and lived in the next dorm over on the same street. They came over, saw we were NOT just “some girls” and ran. Poor kid.

    He didn’t know where he was and was too drunk to walk straight, so I had to call campus police (who were all super nice imo).

    When the cop asked for his ID, he, very earnestly, asked if she “wanted his real ID or fake ID”. Nice kid, no braincells.

  77. Jennifer Strange*

    Where to start. For one thing, we had a dry campus*. I was an RA in a new apartment-style building where they had the bright idea to dedicate the top 5 floors to older/graduate students and give them freedom to drink, but anyone on any other floors could not drink (even if they were above 21) and anyone under 21 who happened to be on those top 5 floors also couldn’t drink (which made enforcing the rule even harder on our part). The best part was when one of the RAs living in that section left midway through the year and got replaced with a 19-year-old (who shouldn’t have been allowed to live on those floors). A few other fun moments:

    -On move-in day a group of drinkers immediately got busted after they invited the parent of another student to their dorm for some beers. (In general there were a lot of folks who were “shocked” when we would find alcohol in their fridge and act like someone else must have put it there).

    -The building was completely new, but had been pretty shoddily put together. As a result apartments on the lower 5-10 floors had bedrooms without windows. This is a safety hazard, so to “fix” it there was a section at the top where the wall and ceiling met that had a hole cut into it. So if you got that room, you basically never had privacy.

    -We were supposed to send in weekly reports to our GAs using our school emails. About 10 weeks into my RA stint the school changed their email system on a Sunday. Unbeknownst to me, I sent my weekly report at such a time that the system change basically ate it. No one reached out to me about it. That Friday the head of campus living sent out their weekly email to RAs and there in it was “Jennifer and Other RA did not send their weekly reports in last week. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.” I was both dumbfounded and pissed off because A) I HAD sent it B) even if I hadn’t, this would have been the first time it happened (can’t speak for Other RA) and C) even if this had been a consistent issue with me, I don’t think I (or Other RA) needed to be called out in an email to everyone.

    -Got stuck checking in a student who came to live in the building midway through the year. When she arrived she informed me that I would have to take her bags up and she would take the stairs because she had a fear of elevators. That would have been fine…except she was on the 17th floor. It took about two hours to get her settled into a new apartment.

    -As an RA, we had to stay a couple of weeks after the other students had moved out to make sure the rooms were cleared/cleaned. As such, we had master keys to get into any apartment. There was a stretch of about 4-5 days where a number of floors (including mine) didn’t have hot water for whatever reason. I don’t mean that the water was lukewarm, it was absolutely freezing. After about 3 days of not being able to enjoy a bath or shower a fellow RA suggested I go into one of the empty apartments on another floor and use their tub. So I went about 3-4 floors down and found one with hot water. I took a nice, long bath and had just gotten out when I heard the door to the apartment open. The building manager always wore heels, so we could tell when she was coming, and I heard that unmistakable sound of high heels walk in. I froze in my spot, towel around me and held my breath. I heard her walk around for a minute or two…and then walk out. I don’t know if she just didn’t come back into the bathroom or what, but I dodged a bullet there.

    *I went to college in downtown Chicago and our dorm buildings were spread out across the city, so campus is a strong term here.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      I liked the story with the high heels. I can imagine the feeling of dread as those heels got closer!

  78. UnicornRA*

    I was an RA my sophomore and senior years of college. Sophomore year I was in the “party” dorm for other sophomores. I think the entire year I only wrote up maybe 2 or 3 rooms, but this one men’s floor HATED me. They thought I was out to get them and such a b*tch etc. What was so weird is that I literally never wrote any of them up? So I have no idea why they thought I was so evil. One of my first memories of the burden that women bear when they have even a modicum of power over men. Sigh.

    My most memorable “write up” was when I knocked on a door to ask the suite to turn down their music. They said “come in!” and I opened the door to 8 women drinking alcoholic punch through straws out of a massive inflatable unicorn beer cooler. I had to get them to pour it all out and then had to write all of them up. I really didn’t want to write them up, but it was so egregious that I really had to. I do admire the creativity though even in retrospect.

  79. Combinatorialist*

    I had a friend in college who was an RA and had done something dumb (I have no idea what, I don’t even remember if I ever knew). She was getting chewed out by her boss and was like “look, I apologized, I won’t do it again, but I don’t know what you want me to do now — write myself up?” (as a joke). And then her boss said, yes she did want her to write herself up, so then she had to write an incident report on herself.

  80. Invisible fish*

    I have a question for former RAs and/or anyone with experience in psychology: does anyone know why there is always some version of a “mad pooper” in every dorm? What about communal living inspires you to make that choice?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Mercifully, I never had one of those (I wasn’t an RA) but we had a bunch of environmentally-conscious kids one year who believed firmly in “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down” and finally had to put a limit on how long yellow could mellow because it did start to smell.

    2. Temporary Jane*

      I never lived with a mad pooper myself, but there was one on campus who just loathed her roommate and reacted by ‘decorating’ their SHARED dorm room.

      If you make friends with Campus Security you will hear some wild stories.

    3. Just Me*

      At my fiancee’s high school it was the “mad crapper.” I fell down a rabbit hole reading about scatological disorders a few months ago (wanted to know if Burke Ramsey was disturbed enough to kill JonBenet) and I read that in children at least it can be for attention or a misplaced coping mechanism. For adults (aside from maybe being a sexual thing) it could be almost like a compulsion. I want to know more but also don’t.

    4. RA in Australia*

      I’ll link in my next comment as it will probably get held up, but I found a reasonable light weight summary of the reasons people poop in public.

  81. StillKindaAnnoyedTBH*

    So a secondhand story here, but one the guys on my floor from freshman year became an RA sophomore year. Never really liked him, was an combo of nosy/judgmental, but we were friendly enough in limited quantities. Anyway, near the end of the first term he gets kicked off his RA duties for bullying (details a little vague, but the rumors I heard were horrible). His punishment? Getting moved off his floor to one of the nicest apartment complexes on campus, while the majority of the rest of us were crammed into forced triples due to a housing screw-up by the school.

  82. RA4EVER*

    I was an RA for 3 yrs! 2 years at undergrad and then 1 year during grad school. Honestly loved it (but I realize I might have been a little power hungry hehe…) Now for some of the crazy ish I’ve seen
    1. Someone decided in a drunken stupor to kick down the walls of the stalls in the men’s bathroom. I have no idea WHY anyone thought that was a funny thing to do considering they quite literally DID NOT GET FIXED.
    2. I had a bunch of residents “borrow” the furniture from the common room. I saw them lugging the couches, the table, two desks into their dorm room. Then they tried to lie and say they brought it from home. Like I certainly hope you did not purchase this stuff with your own money because the common room furniture was CRAP. Also the couches have probably been their since the college was founded so alllllllll the germs.
    3. I had to stop someone from peeing in the hallway. They did not listen and the hallway probably still smells of pee. No words for that one it’s not a memory I think of fondly…

    The funniest part (or I guess the saddest) about all these stories… all done by the same 4 guys

  83. RPOhno*

    Obligatory “wasn’t an RA, but…”
    My freshman year of undergrad, my floor of one of the dorm buildings had… well… let’s call it a problem. The problem probably had a name, and a habit of never being sober, always being high, living off energy drinks, and talking about wanting to score some cocaine, but that was never proven.
    Anyway, a month or so into spring semester, things started happening… first, a dorm-wide email was sent out informing everyone that the toilets were not appropriate locations to dispose of magazines. Apparently, someone had been shoving magazines down the toilets for funzies.
    Things calmed down for a bit, but, alas, ’twas not to last. The next thing we know, the soap dispenser in the bathroom has been smashed to bits and the paper towel dispenser ripped off the wall and thrown in a shower stall. Then, another break from weird vandalism.
    A bit later, the floor trash cans were emptied all over the common area. Trash. Everywhere. Of course, the ventilation system wasn’t up to the challenge, so the whole floor stank of rotting trash for a week, and as soon as that was over, gallons of milk were dumped all over the common area. But, dear reader, if you thought any of this was the crowning achievement of our intrepid vandal, you were mistaken.
    Over a holiday weekend, most of the residents had gone home (state school, most people were within driving/pickup distance). When we returned, one of the shower stalls was blocked off with caution tape, and the rumor mill began its inexorable churning. Had someone died in there? Had someone taken a dump in there? Again, we all underestimated the creativity and dedication of our vandal. Eventually, once the spun stories were weeded out, we were left with this: over a holiday weekend, someone had entered the dorm bathroom and RIPPED A SHOWERHEAD OUT OF THE WALL! It was only noticed when someone who happened to be passing by found a minor deluge escaping under the bathroom door. Facilities was called in, on emergency overtime, on a holiday, to fix the issue, but due to the damage to the pipes, was only able to disconnect the water for that shower stall.
    The university threatened to make all residents in the building pay for the damages over the course of the semester if no one ratted out the perpetrator, but, either no one knew who did it, or no one wanted to be the rat. Turns out, the costs of repairs over the semester split across several hundred students was below the school’s invoicing threshold and we couldn’t be charged anyway. Either that, or someone in accounts receivable decided to cancel the RD’s power trip.
    I’m sure some of the RAs for the building resigned because of that semester, but I also never saw mayhem to quite that extent again while I was at that school (other than a couple of sports-championship-related riots).

    1. Combinatorialist*

      Resident Assistant. Typically a student job on campus to sort of police the dorms, be there in emergencies, and otherwise keep college dorms from turning into a full battlefield.

      1. Angstrom*

        Also to act as advisors/counselors for freshmen. We only had them in freshmen(1st-year) dorms.

  84. Going Anon for This*

    So very excited to read this thread…. I was an RA for slightly less than 1 year (I had to leave early due to building maintenance issues – read: mold growing on the walls that made me ill)

    But I think the absolute craziest thing that happened during my time was a legit riot. The area that I lived in had two large towering buildings joined by a common area and a cafeteria, and outside some dozens of students started some kind of riot. I was asleep at the time, but the RA from the floor above me who was on call that night called me and asked for help. She then told me that she heard gunshots… I told her that they do not pay me enough to go TOWARD anything that sounds like gunshots. When I did finally make my way down our boss had barred all the doors with chains so no one could come in the building and we later heard that a few kids got tased for doing stupid things like punching a cop. It was pretty ridiculous that some college kids and one adult were expected to hold down the fort during this event.

  85. Anonymous Poster*

    Was an RA in a well-known party town. Experiences include:
    – Male residents climbed palm trees while drunk, but the trees hadn’t been trimmed in awhile. The sprinklers came on in the middle of the night and the trunk was slippery, so they slid down. The parts where the palm branches grow from will kind of slow you down… right in the crotch. Said residents never climbed another palm tree. I thought the problem resolved itself so didn’t bother doing any write ups.
    – The university was overwhelmingly male, so RAs were desperate for a suite or room of women so that the men would occasionally bathe. But the drama was worse than anything the O.C. could ever dream up, so lots of holes in the walls over foiled romantic overtures were found.
    – Multiple instances of RAs being reported by residents to other RAs for loud, raucous relations. It was uncomfortable to knock on the door and ask a colleague to keep it down but they also really needed to keep it down.
    – Sadly many instances of this being someone’s first experience managing themselves, and failing very badly at it. My college was very expensive, so it was a very expensive lesson to learn that no, you cannot stay up all night playing World of Warcraft and expect to pass a class.

  86. Temporary Jane*

    When I was a freshman, two girls on my floor – let’s call them Kitty and Lydia – got to talking with a woman they met at Walgreens. They had all bonded over liking the same makeup and Kitty & Lydia invited her back to their dorm room to hangout. Only now it was getting late, this stranger had invited herself to spent the night and was making noises about sleeping on their floor for the weekend. They were starting to get uncomfortable and invented a dorm rule that students couldn’t have overnight guests to try to get her to leave. They didn’t want to get in trouble with the RA, Jane, after all! This did not deter the stranger who was coming up with plans of how they could hide her and no one would never know.

    Now completely freaked out, Lydia and Kitty went to Jane and asked her to enforce this made-up rule. She couldn’t but I volunteered to pretend to be the RA. So we all went back to their room, they introduced me as ‘Jane’ the RA and I told her that unfortunately she would have to leave.

    This woman, who was going to crash with two 18-year-old she had just met, was in her mid- to late- 30s and was completely sketchy. She went on about how she was just in town visiting her friend, but lost the key to his place and couldn’t get in touch with him, etc, etc. I just kept insisting that I was very sorry but it was policy and she couldn’t stay.

    After about 15 minutes of stalling, she left and Actual Jane gave Kitty and Lydia a talk about using good judgement. I eventually became a real RA but never dealt with anything as weird as that.

    1. MsM*

      Honestly, the weirdest part of that feels like Jane not being willing to just go “you can’t stay here.” Even if guests aren’t explicitly against policy, if her residents are uncomfortable and don’t want this person in their room any more, isn’t that justification enough for kicking someone out?

  87. Meganly*

    The most memorable night when I was an RA was during my second semester of being one. It was finals time and quiet hours were being enforced extremely strictly, mostly because I lived in a 21+ building that allowed alcohol, so things tended to get rowdy. The ARD and I were on rounds and reminding everyone who was being noisy to quiet down or they were getting booted from housing early, which we *really* didn’t want to have to do the paperwork for so pretty please shut up. We passed a room that was playing music loudly, and full of loud chattering. We knocked on the door. A young woman opened it, smiling. Then, three young men wearing nothing but thongs and flimsy tutus pushed her aside and came prancing out of the room (one was wearing fairy wings as well). They started singing “the RAs are here! The RAs are here!” while they danced around us in a circle. I think the thongs were for women because there was a lot of flopping around. They didn’t smell like booze or anything. The ARD and I just stood there, shocked into silence, while they did this for at least a solid two minutes. Eventually, one of us (I forget who, maybe it was both) convinced them to please go back into their apartment and put some clothes on. After they went inside, we just said to the woman (who stood there watching the whole time) to keep things quiet and left. Our RD didn’t believe our nightly report where we documented what happened.

    A less fun story: the next year, I worked in one of the buildings exclusively for freshmen. That building that year earned the reputation of being the worst ever year for any building in terms of write-ups and damage. But that’s not the story. Another RA and I are on rounds, just checking on things, when we hear a dude scream-crying and some bangs ahead of us. We proceeded with caution to find a completely wasted guy stabbing one of the doors to a dorm room with a large knife while he screamed to be let in. Apparently, the occupant had recently broken up with him. My partner retreats to radio in a request for police. I (stupidly) try to talk the guy down. I did actually manage to get him to calm down so that he was just standing there, crying. As soon as the police were on the way, I convinced him that we should go downstairs and talk to the police; maybe they could help him figure out a better way to talk to his ex-girlfriend. I kept insisting that the police were there to help. My bamboozle succeeded, and we brought him downstairs and got him to the main hall just as the police arrived. He was promptly arrested. We went back to check on the woman whose door had been getting stabbed to let her know about the arrest and she was pretty shaken. We told her we’d get our RD to give her some DV resources in the morning and that she wasn’t in trouble at all. The paperwork that night was not fun.

    Also, that same building/year, two students set off firecrackers multiple times in the common area near my room. I have no idea why they kept thinking they’d never get caught; I was literally right there.

    1. Blueberry Girl*

      Yeah, I wasn’t an RA, but one evening, while a group of us were sitting in the common area watching TV, we heard this screaming and banging, not unlike your story. My friend went to see what was happening and some drunk guy was trying to break into another girl’s room. He wasn’t armed (thank god), but he was yelling incoherently and she was clearly crying on the other side of the door. It was close to spring break, so the dorms were semi-empty. Fortunately, I knew the RA guys in the neighboring dorm from class and, since this was before easy cellphone access, I slipped out to bang on his door while two of my other friends went to watch to make sure nothing escalated. He was a huge guy, so he called campus police, and then ran back to the hallway with me. He managed to talk down the drunk dude (plus he was big enough that he was sort of an intimidating presence) and soon campus police showed up. Super stressful evening that I will never forget.

  88. Disco Janet*

    I was an RA in primarily a freshman dorm and most of my friends were also RA’s, so I have plenty of stories. The highlight real includes:

    1. My one friend who was doing rounds later in the night (think 10-11 pm) and found a conference room full of mostly naked students who had been playing strip poker. The kicker: the conference room had glass walls, everyone who passed by could see them.

    2. I personally had to write up two different students for unicycling in the hallways. Other students would open their bedroom doors and have to look to before they left their rooms to make sure they didn’t get run over (it was a narrow hallway). I only wrote them up after 3 different warnings to stop.

    3. My friend was the RA of the engineering building (all engineering students had to reside in it for freshman year). The majority of the floor got together and decided it would be fun to take all the bedroom doors off the hinges. This cause thousands of dollars in damage and pissed off the 3 female engineers on the floor.

    4. Countless stories about weed or alcohol (underage). But the one that stands out is the first week of school (it was literally the Sunday before classes started), myself and two fellow RAs were hanging out on our floor’s lobby and we had overflow students staying in the study rooms. We watch as 3 0r 4 students come in and out of one of these study rooms completely drunk. Finally, we decide we have to bust them. All of them were underage, one didn’t even live in our building. So after we write them all up, myself and the other female walk the girl who didn’t live in our building back to her building. It was just around midnight. On the 5-10 minute stroll over she starts freaking out about her parents finding out and they are going to kill her, and she started making statements about killing herself. We get her back to her room, call her RA on duty and eventually decide we have to call the school’s mental health services to deal with her.

    5. This happened before I was an RA (my own freshman year) but is campus legend now. A student got caught smoking pot in his room and the RAs called in the cops as backup. The cops come in, it escalates, they are trying to handcuff the student to take him away and the student jumps out the window of his 11th floor bedroom. Student manages to land in the bushes and survive and every few years a rumor pops up that he is re-enrolling in classes.

    6. We had a serial pooper. My building had a full kitchen, that anyone could use, in the basement next to the laundry room. Someone pooped in the oven and it had to be replaced. Then it happened in the oven again. Then poop was found in the microwave over the oven. There was a whole semester of this.

  89. Three Oh Three*

    I would just like to apologize to my sophomore year ex-boyfriend’s RA for the time they threw me a birthday party and instead of cleaning up properly, just threw all the furniture out the window.

    We could see it on the side of the hill for the remainder of my college career. It wasn’t even a wild party – we played Mario Kart and ate ice cream cake – but if they were that wild when we were all sober, I can only imagine what kind of drunken shenanigans had to be covered for.

  90. Alexandrine*

    I wasn’t an RA, but RA-adjacent; during the summers, I staffed the office at my college that rented out dorm space to groups and students staying in our (very expensive East Coast) city. We were sort of like combo RAs/housekeeping.

    We’d staff an office near the dorm’s dining hall all day. On weekdays, we’d trade off having someone be on-call with a shared phone, but on weekends, our office was staffed 24 hours. During the overnight shifts, we’d switch off doing rounds on each occupied floor every hour or so–just walking down the halls on each floor to make sure that nothing seemed amiss.

    One Saturday night, I’m doing rounds at maybe 10PM. I do a few floors, and everything is pretty relaxed, just some people around my age (20) hanging out in common rooms or dorm rooms. Then I get to the top floor.

    I come out of the elevator, and see a massive cloud of black smoke billowing out of that floor’s laundry room. I run toward it, thinking that one of the dryers must be on fire and that I’m going to grab a fire extinguisher and/or pull the fire alarm.

    Except…I turn the corner to enter the room, and none of the dryers are running. The only machine going is one washer, which is bucking around like a mechanical bull and spewing black smoke from its motor. I lift the lid to stop the machine, and I find it filled past the top of the drum and completely dry. Then I dig my hand in, and realize that someone loaded the machine with legit like seven loads of wash; they added a layer of clothes, punched it down like it was bread dough, and repeated until they got to the top. Under the top few layers of (curiously dry) smooshed down clothes, there was a huge amount of incredibly dark water and sodden clothing.

    I go down the hall, and find some people hanging out in a room with the door open. (How did they not notice the smoke?) One of the guys (WHO IS OLDER THAN ME) admits to loading the machine, but blames it on the fact that the instructions didn’t tell him how much clothing he could put in it during one load. I follow him down the hall, make him pull out a single load of clothes to load in the other washer, and teach him how washing machines work.

    The original washer is, of course, completely destroyed; I enter a facilities ticket and after a couple of weeks, they *finally* drain all the water out and haul the broken machine away.

  91. SaffyTaffy*

    Oh, this was at another school but mid-semester I changed dorms and when I unlocked the door to my new dorm, I found a naked couple. On the bare, plastic mattress! And they were not students. The room shared a bathroom with the RA, so these 2 strangers put their clothes on and just went into the RA’s room through the bathroom. They left their condom and wrapper under the bed, I’ll never forget that. And I was only in the room for a few days when the RA locked me out of the bathroom to smoke… something? Something that stank but wasn’t pot. I called the campus police, she and her boyfriend were arrested. That’s when we found out that she had been operating a kind of early 2000s Airbnb-slash-drug den out of the empty room.

  92. We Found a Lot of Nemos*

    Okay, saying it up front: I was not an RA. I was student Res Life Central Office staff, so I worked pretty closely with the RDs and RAs for buildings on a daily basis and assisted with bigger stuff as needed. My last few weeks working before graduation, I heard a commotion outside the office and in rushes a group of RDs and RAs from one of the larger housing areas on campus, carrying a massive tub (think one of those deep rubbermaid storage tubs) with a TON of goldfish and feeder fish. Turns out, as a last hurrah a group of residents had decided to have an “under the sea” party in a floor lounge – complete with decor and a slide into a kiddie pool **filled with live fish**.

    As far as I know, we never found out exactly who did it, and I got a goldfish as a pet. Unfortunately I think the poor thing was traumatized or injured, so I just got to give it a comfortable last week of existence. (RIP Nugget)

  93. Amber Rose*

    First year dorms in university were in the basement of the main school building. Block E was where they gathered the 17 year olds in an attempt to keep us from drinking. Those of us babies called it quarantine and were kinda sulky about the whole thing.

    Block D would occasionally invite us to bust out of quarantine for “crawls” which were like pub crawls except you’d go room to room. There were way too many people, not just dorm kids, attending to keep us out or control it in any way. After about a month, the RA’s collectively gave up trying to prevent our sneaking over in favor of joining the fun. As a matter of fact, I believe the second time I met our RA was during the drunk slip ‘n slide. They were naked. I mean, lots of people were naked, so I wasn’t judging. I also wasn’t naked.

    First year dorm life was wild.

  94. RA's deserve better*

    My last year as a RA I was placed in an upperclassmen building with 4-person apartments. Each apartment had 4 bedrooms that were keycard locked for some privacy and a common space with a kitchen. One of my roommates was a highschool friend, the other 2 were randomly assigned and friends with eachother… and oh boy did they not like RAs. My first encounter with them was during check in where I said, “Oh hi! I’m OP I am one of your roomates/floor RA nice to meet you!” Their response was a full face cringe and a snide “Ew we have to live with you? We don’t want to live with a RA” and then turned and left.

    A quick summary of my time living with them:
    -Being screamed at when I told them they needed to keep alcohol in their minifridge in their rooms and not the common area (one of them was underage and I gave them this option so I could claim ignorance which I couldn’t do if it was in the apartments shared fridge and I know it wasn’t their choice to live with a RA).

    -Came off duty at 2:30am to find one of their entire extended families (15 people) sleeping all over our common room floor with zero notice. (The maximum amount of guests was 2).

    -Got threatening texts saying one of them wanted to fight/hurt me cause my presence limited them. (I was rarely in the building because being there gave me panic attacks). When I told them I was reporting them and threatened to call the police they congratulated me and told me they respected me now and wanted to be friends. (During the mediation of this event I learned one of them had come off her much needed mental health medication 2 weeks prior without her doctor knowing and I had become her unfortunate target during what she called an “episode”).

    -My boss denied my request to have them or myself moved, even after their threats of physical harm. I actually got in trouble for not being in the building at least 75% of the week, even after I begged to be moved as I was afraid for my safety.

    In my experience RA’s are underpaid, undervauled and often taken advantage of.

  95. Sss*

    I was an RA for all of my undergrad including some summers. I’m glad most people only dealt with drunken shenanigans. I was the first responder for 2 suicide attempts and a few sexual assaults. While we did get several weeks of pretty good training it was way too much for an unpaid job. My university was in a big city and there were lots of students who were leaving home for the first time and some were obviously lacking in adequate outside emotional support as our programs were quite rigorous. I had a bit of a rep for being a hard ass as an RA but it generally made my job easier as the kids knew to go somewhere else to party. I worked for so long in my university’s res life program by the time I graduated I had held every job you could have had as a student and had more institutional experience then the director of that department. While many of my experiences really shaped my professional life it was really hard for me to explain how it translated to the working world as I did not go into higher Ed or psychology.

  96. jellybean*

    “Being an RA is weird because you like, see someone get so drunk they almost die and then have to go back to your room to do arts and crafts for a bulletin board”

    -an RA on my team. This quote has stuck with me for years

    1. formerRA*

      This is exactly it. My stories range from battles over the good stapler to having strategically placed tissues boxes in my room for when people came to cry, to being the point person for life threatening emergencies.

  97. One of Many: Jessica*

    I was never an RA, but my most memorable experience with one in school was about somebody else’s suicide note.

    I have an extremely common first name for my age cohort, like Jessica. There’s always another one somewhere nearby. Everyone knows more than one person with my name.

    Somebody else named Jessica wrote a suicide note, signed it with only their first name, and left it somewhere in my dorm. It got found and brought to my dorm’s RA group. So, the RAs did the best they could – they got a small group of them together and went door-to-door to every Jessica to give a suicide intervention talk.

    So I get a late night knock on my door, and three RAs (none of whom I know) immediately barged into my room. Two men and one woman. One of them, the woman, explains the situation and starts trying to talk me out of suicide. The other two men are just staring at me, and I very much got the impression they were ready to tackle me if necessary. They are between me and the only door out of my room. I acknowledge their situation, politely explained that I was not the Jessica they were looking for, and tried to get them to leave.

    They were not to be deterred! They flatly refused to leave until they got through 100% of their suicide prevention spiel. So, after several attempts to get them to move on to some other Jessica failed, I basically facepalmed and just let them keep talking. It was very tense.

    Unbeknownst to them, in my head, I was rapidly going through my more extreme options to get them to leave. From my end, having three strangers burst into my room late at night was actually pretty intimidating. I was still not 100% convinced they were real RAs, since I didn’t know any of the RAs from other floors of the building. I was expecting at any moment this might turn into an attack, or a prank, or something otherwise unpleasant for me if they were RAs and decided I might be the suicidal Jessica. If they hadn’t been blocking me from accessing my phone, I would’ve called the police on them. Since the two men very much seemed to be there for the sole purpose of providing physical force, either to protect the woman who was doing all the talking or to tackle me if they deemed it appropriate, I had also made sure to place myself within easy reach of my knife (out of their view) for self-defense if necessary. I was very ready to stab them if they came too close to me, rather than let them restrain me for any reason. I had already had some bad dorm and life experiences they were wholly unaware of, and I was not about to quietly suffer if these guys decided to try their luck.

    Lucky for all, after they got through every word of their suicide prevention speech, they finally left. I never opened my door to an unexpected knock again. I rather hope they never found the Jessica they were looking for, but that she got some help elsewhere. I do not think their approach would’ve been helpful to anyone who was actually struggling with suicide.

  98. Mario Kart*

    For an event we once got the campus police to lend us their beer googles to play “Don’t drink and drive, Mario Kart”.

    Apparently that wasn’t enough of a challenge to some of my residents, they decided to get tipsy/drunk in their rooms first before coming downstairs to play. (We were in an upperclassmen dorm so they were allowed alcohol in their rooms). Watching sober students fly off rainbow road was funny, but watching a tipsy student fall out of their chair trying to not fall off the race track while wearing the beer goggles was even better.

  99. Butchering in the bathroom*

    Ooh! Have to share this one. My junior year of college I lived on a co-ed floor with a communal kitchen/lounge area and communal bathrooms. One day I went to put something in the freezer, only to discover it was completely full of meat. I learned that two students on my floor had bought half of a cow from a nearby farmer. They had proceeded to finish the butchering project in the communal shower. Several students on the floor objected to this use for their shower. The RA insisted that the students put up apology notes to the rest of us, so they did. But the notes said something like “we’re sorry we used the shower for cutting up our meat. We won’t do it again. Besides we have enough meat for the rest of the semester anyway.” I was not the RA, but have felt bad for the poor woman who was when I imagined what the conversation that led to the “apology” notes must have been like.

  100. Julia*

    I was an RA and I have many stories, but the one that sticks with me as the worst/wildest actually happened to a friend.

    One of my friend’s residents committed suicide. My friend was the one to discover the body, it was all very terrible. Everyone in administration was appropriately kind to my friend after it happened. I think they offered counseling, but I don’t recall.

    The next year during training, they brought up the suicide. They thought my friend had graduated. They explicitly told the RAs: that suicide was the student’s RA’s fault. The student’s RA did not do a good enough job monitoring their resident, and now a resident is dead. That is your responsibility. They then realized my friend had not graduated when they ran out of the room sobbing.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      That is absolutely awful. Even if your friend had graduated that’s still a terrible (and incorrect!) thing to tell your RAs. Yes, in our training we talked about looking for warning signs and how to best approach a student we thought may be having issues, but ultimately RAs are students just like everyone else living at the dorm. You can’t expect them to shoulder the responsibility of every student’s troubles.

      1. MsM*

        And even trained therapists can only be so responsible for how people use or don’t use their guidance. Otherwise, no one would ever go into mental health services.

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      OMG!!! I hope that your friend brought that up to the Provost or Chancelor or whatever your school had. Or at least the counseling center. That was uncalled for. No one can blame someone else for suicide. An RA can ask all the right questions but if the student is not forthcoming there is nothing they can do. No one can FORCE someone into counseling.

      Also, even if your friend had graduated, there would have been people in that room who knew your friend, who knew about the situation and probably knew the student. That was so insensitive. As someone who works in a university, I am so appalled by that trainer.

    3. Resident Director*

      I am so sorry that this happened to your friend; it is absolutely unacceptable, and I hope that professional staff were held accountable for it.

      I have conversations with my staff at the beginning of the year where I’m up front and say that if a resident were to complete or attempt suicide, it would not be their fault, and that they are not responsible for anyone else’s mental health. This is the case for your friend as well (though I know that you know this, and I hope that they know it too).

    4. Content note please.*

      If you’re going to describe suicide, some warning is appreciated. And current usage is died of suicide, not committed.

  101. formerRA*

    Since you live where you work, sometimes work crisis’s happen in your bedroom. An RA on my team dealt a serious incident where her room became home base for the police and the school staff. In the middle of a serious conversation she realized that the male police officer was sitting in a chair with one of her bras draped on it.

    Not the sort of thing that happens in a normal job

  102. Green Goose*

    I lived in the Berkeley Student Co-ops which is a large student cooperative of about 20 houses with ~1,500 students (at the time I was there). The house I lived in had about 70 students and I was the kitchen manager. I had grown up with a single/solo mom and not a lot of money and I was surprised that a lot of the students in the co-ops were pretty wealthy and entitled. They had come straight from the dorms, where the cafeteria had endless amounts of whatever they wanted and didn’t seem to grasp that the co-ops were different.
    We had sign up sheets on the walls where people could write down what they wanted me and my co-manager to order and there were multiple times where our housemates would write expletives about us because they were angry that there was not a specific type of ice cream (we had a budget, we couldn’t just order whatever we wanted). One guy literally wrote in large letters that I should be fired because he didn’t get something he wanted. I had to look at that for a whole week in my own home. I was really appalled by how me and my co-manager were treated that semester and we both ended up resigning after just one term. It was so upsetting for my co-manager that she ended up moving out of the house.

    1. Green Goose*

      Just thought of another: Part of being a co-op member is that you had to do 5 hours of volunteer work at the house each week (sweeping, making dinner, being a manager etc.) and if you missed a shift you had to pay a fine. We had a few wealthy housemates that would never do the shifts and just pay the fee. One guy whose dad was a judge and was really wealthy never, ever did his shifts so the house missed out on that needed chore and he just did not care. It was the opposite of the point of the cooperative living environment.

  103. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    not an RA but my senior year of college my mom ended up getting a job in my college town and the only place she could find to move to was a duplex right next to my university’s “Theme house”. It was my university’s version of a sorority/fraternity where the group of students that lived there had a theme (all sports players, all Spanish majers, etc) and they would have specific in-house events and things.

    Well, my mom worked late so she was up at midnight and saw someone walking between her house and the theme house. She flipped on the porch light and loudly asked what they were up to, thinking it was either a peeping tom or someone trying to break in. She scared the daylights out of 2 RAs who were just doing their rounds. She apologized and said that if they ever needed anything they could knock on the door.

  104. Resident Director lol*

    So! I was never an RA, but I am a Resident Director, and previously worked in Residence Life in an admin support role and was an Assistant Resident Director in grad school. I have STORIES.

    – When I was admin support, I would often take calls from parents/students who were upset about being assessed cleaning charges at the end of the year. I’d take notes and pass them on to the RD to respond. One day, an RD came in, and I asked about a call I’d received. He said (and I will never forget the look of horror in his eyes as he said it): “They had a VOMIT CORNER.”
    – When I was a grad, I lived in a tiny apartment in the basement of my building. You accessed the apartment off a weird hallway with a private door that only I, maintenance, and my co-grad could access. A side building entrance was right by this hallway, and students would often use this entrance when coming back to the building late at night. My co-grad and I kept finding puddles of water near our door and called in maintenance to check for a leak. Their verdict? Someone was regularly pissing outside our door when they came in at night.
    – My first residence hall as a full-time RD was haunted, and when I walked around the building by myself in the summer I could sometimes hear people talking when I knew I was the only one in the building. When I tried to unlock certain doors, I could feel someone physically turning the lock back and re-locking them; I’d have to announce myself and why I was keying into the room before it would let me in.
    – I came home late at night to see a student standing in a hallway holding a bottle of some kind of hard liquor and talking loudly. I went to talk to the student; he asked me how much money it would take for me to not write him up.

    We wear a lot of hats in our job – I do event planning, staff management/supervision, crisis response, facilities work, admin work, etc – but every day is different and for all my complaints, I love working with our students & student staff!

    1. The Smiling Pug*

      I’m curious to hear more about the haunted residence hall. My residence hall too was supposed to be haunted, but it was just a story cooked up by the RA’s to get people to behave. The theater, on the other hand… actually haunted. Can’t tell you how many times I thought someone was looking at me when I was the only one there. And I had to go there a lot because I was a theater major.

    2. LCH*

      i assume photos to document the room were take before clean up. because some people are just ridiculous.

    3. Meganly*

      Oooh, there was a room that was haunted in one of the buildings I worked as well! It was a janitor’s closet that must have been a room in the past, because it was huge. There were stories that you could hear crashes and bangs coming from inside the room at night. I didn’t believe it until I was doing rounds and walked by it with another RA, who mentioned the room freaked her out. I scoffed, saying there was no such thing as ghosts. Immediately, a radio inside the room started blasting music. We ran away lol. When we came back later, no music.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Wow, that’s interesting. And for the music to turn on right when you mentioned that there were no such thing as ghosts… yikes.

  105. AllyOxenFree*

    I was a summer RA at a small college. Summer school had less students than the academic year, so the housing department used us as a work crew during daytime hours to justify paying us the same as the academic year when we had less residents. We’d paint, deep clean lounge areas, move furniture… it wasn’t horrible, and it paid for school. But one day we were told to meet at the empty upper-division apartment complex, where we were given some steam cleaners rented from the local big box store…. and told to steam clean the student mattresses. No protective gear was given, no instructions, just “steam clean both sides of each mattress and let them dry.” Now, most dorm mattresses have a protective cover to aid in cleaning and replacement…. these were just random twin mattresses like you’d buy as a normal individual. Cloth covers, gross stains…. and worse, since some of us had worked in that complex over the academic year, we knew EXACTLY who had each mattress in each apartment, and we had to see those residents again in the fall and pretend we didn’t know what they (or their guests) had done.

  106. Phil*

    Here’s something from the other side: I went to a boarding military academy for high school. Our RA were seminary students. Clueless seminary students. And it was the early 60s and we weren’t sent to a military academy because we were little angels. And said school was in the town where the majority of the cruising scenes in American Graffiti were filmed and accurately depicted the scene when I was in high school. Guys had cars stashed off campus, we would sneak out all the time, we even had a pirate AM radio station. AND THE RAs NEVER, EVER CAUGHT ON. EVER.

  107. No Crap Connie*

    I became an RA because I had great RAs my freshman year.

    One was a real stickler for the rules noise violations, visiting hours, etc. She was very nice, but the rules were black and white. We called her “No Crap Connie”

    One night around 2am, a hall light caught the ceiling tiles on fire on the first floor. While everyone else was frantically running out of the building with people yelling: “Its a real fire!!!” and generally freaking out, No Crap Connie quickly and efficiently got everyone near the fire out of the building and put the fire out before campus safety or local FD got there. We still called her No Crap Connie for the rest of the year, but reverently. She was fearless.

    1. The Smiling Pug*

      I have all the respect for No Crap Connie. It takes guts to do that, especially without the campus police or FD.

  108. Moonlight*

    I lived in an apartment style dorm in my first year of undergrad. The RAs (or dons depending on your school) were typically fourth year students. Maybe 3rd. I don’t know how it makes sense to have people who’re 21-22 effectively supervising people who are 17-19. They’re basically our peers and formed friendships with a lot of us, albeit not as casually. Well, herein lies the problem. One of the more jock-like/cool/preppy RAs seemed to like partying. It was not unusual for him to go to a party and get drunk – he at least had the decency or “professionalism” to leave our building to do so, but everyone knew about his being drunk every weekend (why was this person an RA?!). One day he left. Turns out he’d been hooking up with multiple young women that he was supposed to be supervising. It was really icky and sounded like it might have been some sort of sexual assault but it was an incredible abuse of power to say the least and probably traumatizing for those young women.

  109. RB*

    When I was an RA, I was assigned to a ground-level floor in our dorm, which meant that the rooms were half underground and had windows that faced out to the sidewalk. If I stood and looked out my window, I would be eye-level with people’s shins as they passed by.

    The building was fairly small (it housed about 80 people) and not particularly modern by the standards of student housing at the time I was going to school, but the university kept it open in part because it was considered an historic building. It was about two blocks east of a series of significantly larger, more modern dorms that easily housed a couple thousand students. To the northwest of my building was the main commercial drag of campus, i.e. the place where all the bars were located.

    This meant that, late on Friday and Saturday nights, there would be streams of drunk and otherwise unruly students passing our building as they came back from the bars to their rooms in the dorms to the west of us.

    This was all well and good until one of those individuals decided that, as he walked past our building, he was going to rear back his leg and kick out one of our sidewalk-level windows . . . the widows that, I remind you, were the windows to our residents’ rooms.

    When this happened, everybody was shocked. Of course, the matter was reported to law enforcement, but this was in the days before omnipresent security cameras, so there was not much if anything that could be done about it aside from replacing the window and moving on with our lives.

    Then it happened the next weekend. And the next. And the next. The worst was when a resident whose bed was directly underneath his window was in bed studying as the glass was kicked in. He was fortunately not injured but was as emotionally shaken as I’d ever seen somebody up to that point in my life.

    Even though we reported this to relevant authorities every time it happened, for whatever reason there didn’t seem to be any sort of law enforcement response, e.g. stationing an officer near our building on the weekends to keep an eye out for the offenders. We were all getting pretty frustrated with the situation.

    Then, one Saturday night, even though we had not coordinated it in advance, several more of us on the floor than usual happened to be in. We were all in our respective rooms minding our own business when we heard the unmistakable sound of one of our windows shattering. Four of us, myself included, all simultaneously bolted out of our rooms and up the stairs. After about a 100-yard footrace (with me bringing up the rear – even in my early 20s I was not built for running), we managed to grab the perpetrator.

    Fortunately, the guys who lived on my floor were not out for blood and didn’t do anything physical other than grabbing the vandal so he could not run any further. When I caught up, at my direction they hauled him into the office of the closest dorm where I instructed the front desk clerk to call the police.

    We never had a problem with our windows getting broken again after that, so either this was a one-man operation or word quickly spread that it was no longer worth the risk.

    This is the kind of thing that, almost 20 years later, I would advise others to NEVER do for any number of reasons (who knows if this person had a gun, knife, etc.) but I would be lying if I said that, as it was happening, it wasn’t one of the more exhilarating moments of my life.

  110. Sara M*

    I was having bad mental health problems one semester. This was in the era before meds were really used, and I had no access to therapy. My friend told me the RA in the next dorm over (not even my own RA) had spent some time talking with her, and she was great.

    So I met her, and she was very sweet, and I chatted with her for an hour and felt much better. She invited me back sometime. And this evolved into her listening to me every two weeks for an hour that semester. In retrospect, it was basically talk therapy. (I know, not “official” but it had a great effect on me.)

    I don’t know why she gave me so much time. My best guess is that she planned to become a therapist after her RA years and was getting some practice, and maybe she thought I was interesting. I don’t think she did it for many students. I kept asking “is it ok for me to take your time?” and she said “don’t worry about it.”

    To this day, I am grateful to her for getting me through that semester and giving me SO MUCH loving care. I think of her and hope she’s well, wherever she is. Much love.

  111. FrenchCusser*

    I wasn’t an RA, but I was friends with the one in my freshman dorm. One night she and I attended a Christmas party, and the rest of the dorm decided to throw a ‘bacchanal’. Now this was in the ’70s in an all-female dorm, so having ‘boys’ in was a big no-no, as well as the fact that everyone was underage.

    We came back to find the dorm covered in vomit and other substances, and guess who got the blame? Yes, our RA who wasn’t even there. The entire dorm got put on probation.

  112. Good Enough For Government Work*

    …what on earth is an RA?

    I know most of this blog’s readership is from the US, but sometimes it would be really nice if everyone remembered that not ALL of us are.

    1. STLBlues*

      Resident advisor. Generally a very slightly older student at the school (maybe sometimes a professional) who lives in and serves as the authority figure in the dorm, enforcing the rules.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      A RA is a Resident Assistant (or at least that’s how the acronym decrypted at my institution). They were students, nominally in charge of and responsible for the safety of the rest of the students in their house/hall/corridor, and ostensibly role models. At our school, in return for the paperwork, observation, and front-line grunt-work, an RA would get a single room (normally a stiff upcharge) with the boarding fees waived.

      You had to take a class to qualify. I want to say it was in the Education program formally. I took the class during the year I lived around the RA in the example, but ultimately I did not end up as an RA the following year. I started on the waiting list (my grade was B+) should any of the more sought-after candidates fall through over the summer, but ended up removing my name from the list and working for a month in the dining halls instead before hockey season started. I was extremely burnt out (in retrospect, I should have dropped out) and wasn’t handling my coursework very well. I imagine I’d have been a mediocre RA at best.

      By-the-by, it makes my day I provided something useful in one of these posts.

  113. Hokius*

    I was an RA for three years in college. The weirdest experience I can recall is that, during RA orientation prior to my junior year/second year as an RA, campus security gathered us all together and held out a baggie full of oregano for us to smell so that we would allegedly know how to tell if we smelled weed in the dorms.

    They paid us $50 a month and “allowed” us to have private rooms at the cost of a two-person occupancy room. That was not enough money to make me rat out a weed user even if it DID smell like oregano.

  114. Wanton1*

    I slept with my RA in college, but I don’t suppose that’s the kind of story you’re looking for.

  115. Megumi*

    I was a residence hall director. One night the fire alarm went off, as one floor filled with smoke. The fire fighters found that a halogen torchiere lamp had melted the head of a gigantic stuffed animal, which they were calling a teddy bear. The owner of said animal kept trying to run back into the smoke-filled building to correct the fire fighters. It was NOT a teddy bear, it was a GORILLA.

  116. Megumi*

    Another one: I’d been the hall director on call one evening when I got a call from an RA in a nearby building. He’d found a bomb in a study lounge and wanted to know if he should call the campus police?

    YES. YES YOU SHOULD CALL THE CAMPUS POLICE. BUT FIRST GET AWAY FROM THE BOMB! HAVE YOU STARTED TO EVACUATE THE BUILDING?

    Bong. He’d said “bong.”

  117. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    I was an RA for two years, and this happened during my tenure (thankfully this incident was not in my dorm — but it did involve friends of mine).

    Most of my college’s dorms were apartment style, with 4-6 students living there. So this one apartment of 4 guys decides they want to throw a pudding wrestling party. They set up a baby pool and line the entire apartment with garbage bags: floor, furniture, about 5-6 feet up the walls. They invite folks (there may have been fliers), encourage girls and guys alike to wear bathing suits, fill the pool with industrial quantities of pudding, and throw the party.

    Of course, it’s loud, and of course they get caught by the RAs on rounds. They’re written up and go before the disciplinary board. The day of the disciplinary board they arrive in full suits, with photos of the immaculately cleaned and undamaged apartment, and with a document signed by every student on their floor and the floors above and below asserting that they were not disturbed by the noise.

    Reader, they emerged without any repercussions.

    1. Lizzo*

      I recall one of the fraternities turning the bathroom on one of their floors into a hot tub once a year for a party…it involved a lot of garbage bags and duct tape. So far as I know, cleanup was always thorough, and they never got in trouble. (It was relatively wholesome fun, all things considered!)

    2. Angstrom*

      That’s almost “responsibly irresponsible” ;-) It’s hard to find too much fault with folks who clean up after themselves without being asked.

  118. STLBlues*

    My university had a very strict no alcohol, no alcohol paraphernalia policy in the dorms. Every few months all the dorms would conduct unannounced searches of people’s dorms/apartments — but they couldn’t open any cabinets or drawers, they could just look around. The RAs were key in keeping these raid dates secret.

    One year, early in the year, our RA started telling everyone that they thought it was time to clean their kitchen, and it would probably be a great idea for all of us to clean our kitchens, too. Officially, because “we’d been there a month or so, and we probably weren’t keeping up with it.” Unofficially, because, of course, she was telling us to clean up anything that’d get us in trouble a day or two before the raids happened. For the rest of the year, we’d get sporadic reminders to really make sure our kitchens were being cleaned properly.

    She was the best.

  119. Abandoning Lurkerdom for the RA drama*

    Oh boy, I am here for this thread. Three years as a RA for freshmen dorms in the early 00s.

    Standouts included:

    – Went away for a weekend. Came back to several frantic emails from coworkers about how my residents had somehow gotten 4 adirondack chairs onto the roof. There was no roof access or anything and the roof was sloped. No one knew how the chairs got up there or how they stayed up there for a full 24 hours without falling before maintenance got them down.

    – As a first semester activity, lots of dorms played a variation on tag where we’d give residents a sock and a name of someone else in the dorm. They were supposed to tag their designated target by hitting them with the sock, then claim the loser’s target as their new target until only two people were left. First one to tag the other wins. Tagging off limits in bathrooms, but anywhere else was free game.
    This game was banned campus-wide though after a resident from the floor above mine climbed down the outside of the building and through the open window of my resident’s room to tag her while she was taking a nap.

    – Very religious resident who was homeschooled and extremely sheltered. Would come report to me any time she thought people were having pre-marital sex. This was not a religious school, and no one else cared if residents were having sex as long as they did it in their rooms and weren’t loud.

    – First weekend, my first time doing rounds, find a dude running around his floor naked and screaming. He saw me come through the door, ran up to me and offered me $100 to let any future drunken shenanigans on his part slide. “I promise I’m good for it, just gotta get back to my room ’cause I’ve got nowhere to put cash in this outfit.” He winked and ran away. I turned around, went back to my room, and wrote him up.

    – Came back to class to literally 10 male residents sitting around a common room table, with one very seriously saying “It’s not gay to be attracted to Han Solo. He’s Han Solo!” The others, also very somber, nodded and agreed. Still not entirely sure if they did it as a joke on me or if they were actually serious.

    – Roommate conflict. Started with a bunch of little nuisance-y stuff like room temperature, microwaving smelly things, etc. Ended when one resident’s father sent me an email saying he was a lawyer and was going to sue me (me, not the college) for not letter her swap roommates. Turned out he was not a lawyer (just worked for a law office), but the school let her switch anyway just to shut him up.

    1. Anono-me*

      Adirondack chairs originated in the Adirondack Mountains are designed to be used on a slope. So that is probably why they stayed on the pitched roof. (FYI For all you flatlanders who want to like sitting in Adirondack chairs, but can’t stand up again afterwards; Handyman Magazine has some great easy plans for a similar chair that works on level ground.)

      And yes Han Solo is Han Solo and one of about 15 people in the world who transcend everything.

  120. I DK*

    Alison must be on Orville Reddenbocker’s payroll … so many popcorn worthy posts so far this year! Thank You!

  121. Anonymous Resident*

    I graduated from college in the early 1990s. I’ve worked at a university for the past twenty years, and have heard lots of stories from students about their dorm experiences, either here or as undergrads elsewhere. I’ve been surprised to hear about student RAs vigorously enforcing rules about drinking, pets, overnight guests, noise, etc. This was very different from my experience.

    Freshman year, my RA introduced herself, said “if you’re going to do anything illegal, keep your door closed,” and started handing out cans of Coors Light. My sophomore year RA had a cat. I was abroad for my junior year, and I don’t think I ever actually met my senior year RA. I don’t know if the difference is generational, or if my college was exceptionally relaxed.

  122. the cat's ass*

    My RA experiences centered on drug or pets, neither of which were allowed in he dorms (this was the 70’s). One guy had an iguana. A large, smelly iguana that frequently got loose and wandered around frightening everyone when it wasn’t frozen in a stairwell. Another student had a fishtank which also smelled awful.

    We had one kid fall out a window stoned but it was only 2 stories up so he only broke his arm.

    It wasn’t worth the reduced room fees to be called a narc for 4 years.

    1. BigAl*

      My sister’s friends had a tarantula in their dorm room. It died. They put the body on a tray in the cafeteria and put it on the conveyor belt that took it back to the dishwashers.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Are you sure it was an iguana? Green iguanas shouldn’t have much of an odor unless they’re very ill…

  123. Megumi*

    On a more serious note, but still darkly comic (most residence life humor is dark humor)…

    One of my residents had been killed in a traffic accident. I’d called the counseling center to arrange for a counselor to come to a floor meeting to help me break the news. Someone had taken the message, leaving a note for one of the counselors with my name, and some comment about death and a floor meeting.

    My sister’s best friend’s spouse worked at the counseling center, saw my name on the note, and called my sister to offer condolences, thinking that I’d passed away! Luckily the confusion didn’t last long.

  124. Just a Guy In A Cube*

    Three stories, all pretty tame.
    1 – My suitemate was an orientation aide who started dating one of the first-years during orientation week, then went back to dating his girlfriend when she got back, which led to a lot of bad feelings and unkindness to this kid who clearly did want to talk to her RA, but we had to figure out how to manage around my suitemate. (I did give the college feedback that RAs should have their own rooms in the future)
    2 – First fire alarm in the winter. My previous dorm had a *lot* of false alarms, so we got used to “get dressed, grab your coat, put things away, then go outside”. Fortunately for me/my residents, I thought to grab a bunch of spare sweaters when the alarm went off. Gave them all to my residents in just a few minutes, and sent most of the barefoot kids to see if they had any friends in neighboring dorms they could crash with until the dorm was cleared.
    3 – Near the end of the year, someone brought a box of kittens to give away at school, and of course one of my residents decided he could keep one in the dorm. Our compromise was that my girlfriend kept the cat at her apartment until he got his own place.

  125. Megumi*

    The campus fire juggling club called me, because our residence hall had a nice ampitheater area outside and they wanted to perform there. So, one night I got to walk outside my home and attend a free fire juggling show, right there, and call it “work.”

    Moments like that made all the weird times worth it.

  126. The Dude Abides*

    Not an RA, but for three years of undergrad and my year of grad school, I worked as part of the “freshman move-in crew” for a dorm complex (two 12-story buildings and a four-pack of smaller buildings). It didn’t pay outside of a t-shirt (and the iPod shuffle I got through leaders’ nominations one year), but if you lived in the dorms, you also got to move in a week early.

    Nothing illegal happened (especially with all the impressionable freshmen and their parents around), but did have to remind a lot of the campus newcomers about the fire hazards posed by candles, coffee makers, etc.

    I also got a lot of questions/stares about the thick work gloves I wore when it was 90+ degrees outside – I pointed to some of the well-used carts we had to use for transporting. I had a few splinters in my hands/fingers after my first time, and I made sure it didn’t happen again.

    1. go blue!*

      My alma mater had a similar program- ‘move in makers’. You volunteered, moved in 1-2 weeks early, and got a free shirt. I chose to live in a smaller all-girls dorm, and it was a nice way to get to meet everyone since I’m not very extroverted or outgoing otherwise. Luckily for me we had giant plastic bins that we just loaded up with all their things and pushed to the elevators, so it wasn’t terrible. I did help many rearrange the modular furniture in their rooms, too.

  127. christine crang*

    I had the good fortune to attend a university 20 years ago whose approach to sexuality, alcohol and drug use in dorms was permissive and prioritized harm reduction. For context, we were in a province where the legal drinking age was 18 (although I was 17 starting out), but there was no policing of drinking at all — in rooms, in halls, in bathrooms, whatever. In our beginning-of-the-year orientation, our floor’s wonderful don explained that if we were planning to experiment with a substance we weren’t familiar with, she’d appreciate if we left a note on her bulletin board first letting her know what we were taking, so she’d know to check on us and what to tell medical personnel if there was an issue.

    Some students on our floor complained about large amounts of marijuana smoke pouring out from under a dorm mate’s door. The don’s response was to ask that student to get in the habit of opening a window and shoving a towel in the crack under her door when she was smoking weed.

    The girl in the room next to me lost her virginity in the residence showers during frosh week to some guy she’d hooked up with at a school-sponsored booze-soaked foam party at a downtown club. We were on an all-girls floor, and while actual audible shower sex was not very common, when boyfriends visited couples often showered together in the stalls of our communal bathroom.

    Good times!

  128. NYWeasel*

    I wasn’t an RA, but I was weekend overnight front desk staff which was basically “All the fun of being an RA without the free housing”. We had lots of big parties, nasty injuries etc, but a few stories still stand out:

    1. My dorm is known for being the dorm where Rick Rubin started his record business…but at the time I didn’t know who he was other than that there was a MOUNTAIN of packages in the mailroom for him and he no longer lived there. One weekend night he actually stopped by to pick up his mail and I joked “oh you’re the infamous Rick Rubin!” simply meaning “oh you’re the guy that we have 200 packages for!”. He was unamused, ooops!

    2. Same dorm, maybe the final night people were in the dorms? Things got CRAZY wild. People were breaking into empty rooms and throwing the mattresses out into the courtyard (from 9 stories up) or tossing them out into the hallways. Fire extinguishers were sprayed everywhere and then people were throwing water balloons, etc. One of my responsibilities was to periodically walk the floors and key in at stations at the end of the hallway to confirm I’d visited every floor. This one floor looked like a set straight out of Stranger Things—no one there, broken glass, mattresses, water, etc everywhere. I was like “I don’t get paid enough to worry about this right now”, and I picked my way down to the end, keyed in, and went on my way to the other 17 floors I had to log in at. Once I was done my rounds, I let the lone security guard know that he *might* want to check out the 9th floor. About 15 minutes later I was treated to a parade of spluttering campus security officers rushing in to deal with the situation.

    3. Our dorm was full of pretty funny people—the sketch group The State includes some of the people who were RAs there or who worked on the desk with me—but one of the funniest people I know was just a random student (Chuck) who had an innate sense of how to good-naturedly mess with people. Our building had two towers separated by a courtyard and connected via this strange dark basement area that had originally been envisioned as a pool…only to become the laundry room and a few weirdly large hallways that went nowhere. In other words there was LOTS of nooks and crannies around.

    One night I’m sitting at the desk and I notice Chuck passing by more often than normal, coming from different directions. About 15 minutes later, I see a group of 3-4 students doing the same thing. I called out to Chuck the next time he swung past and he explained that on a whim he’d decided to see how long he could keep someone interested in unraveling a mystery. He’d posted a note in one of the elevators that said “Go to the third washing machine from the left”, and then at that location a second note told people to go to a third point in the building.

    Chuck let a few people in on what he was doing while the people following the notes started to get more of their friends involved in the hunt. It slowly built until about 2/3rds of the people milling around were either running notes to far flung corners of the dorm or were running around in small packs hunting down notes. The final note directed the crowd back to the original note, which was met by a collective howl of disappointment that I could hear through two sets of doors. Best entertainment at that job ever, lol!

  129. Lisa*

    Nothing to add here except that I had a wonderful freshman year RA. I used to buy beer for her as I had the better fake ID. She would round up some of the 42 women in our hall and escort us to the fraternity parties and conduct a head count and buddy check to get us all home safely. She’s a medical doctor now and if I bet she is a great doctor!!!

  130. Harriet Vane*

    Trigger warning: suicide attempt.

    My freshman year I lived in a dorm. It became increasingly obvious through fall semester that one of the girls on my floor was a cutter. I was clueless, just thought that someone was having really, really bad periods in the showers. It came to a head when some other girls found her passed out in a pool of her own blood. The sad thing was she didn’t think she had a problem, that the rest of us were inflexible on coping mechanisms, that it was no worse than someone using antidepressants or exercise to cope with their depression. Out poor RA was not equipped to deal with this. After a second incident she (the girl who was cutting) was kicked out of the dorm, and I think put on academic probation. I hope she got the help she needed.

    A funnier story was in the boys dorms. First week of school, one of the boys pushed the screen out of a second floor window, pushed their mattress out and then jumped down onto it. They were charged for the damages, to the tune of around $500. This was 20 years ago, so that was something like, 2-3 months of rent. They responded by making a website and handing out flyers for donations for his fines, which he thought were unfair. Nobody donated. Again, I really don’t think that the RAs were mature enough or equipped to deal with our crap. We were 18, and they were only 19-21.

  131. Information Goddess*

    I was an RA for two years. I was in a smaller rural college that drew heavily from the Chicago area. Probably the funniest event was when one of my freshman dragged me out to see “the biggest rat ever!” Because she was worried it would get into the dorm.
    It was a possum. She being from Chicago had never seen one before.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I still do not understand what is so confusing about possums.

      So this was early spring semester in one the open courtyard upperclassmen housing buildings. Dude had just celebrated his 21st birthday, and had apparently closed down the Irish Pub a few miles from campus as he is staggering back to his dorm at three am (?). While he’s headed up the stairs he saw why he was convinced was a “sick momma homeless cat” that needed rescued from under the stairs. He caused a ton of ruckus, got bit three or four times, and woke up the whole building – but he managed to get his “kitty.”

      It was a possum with several babies on its back.

      Drunk 21 year old got to go sleep it off in the university’s holding cell till morning – when campus police dragged him to student health to get his preventative rabies shots (it’s a series). Ha also got a very in depth lesson on the differences between a cat and a possum so he wouldn’t repeat the mistake. The extent of his punishment was paying for his shots (and a vet bill).

      Possum was taken to an animal rescue, checked by a vet, and released back into the woods.

  132. MidwesternRA*

    Ohhh boy. I was an RA at a small midwestern Catholic women’s college for two years, back in the mid-90s. You might think the demographics would mean it was a pretty uneventful job. You would be wrong.

    I dealt with several interesting things, but the one that takes the cake is a series of incidents that came to be known to me and my fellow RAs as the “Phantom Pooper.” We had three upper class dorms and relatively early on in my senior year incidents started occurring where various dorm bathrooms would be smeared with feces – on the walls, sinks, showers, you name it – PP was very thorough. As the incidents became more frequent, it became clear that while PP was not limiting herself to a particular bathroom, she did typically strike in the evenings/overnight. So, the RA on duty every night had to pay specific attention to checking the bathrooms on every floor for any suspicious activity while doing rounds*. Somehow, we were never able to catch/ID the Phantom Pooper (and get her the help she clearly needed) – at their peak, the incidents occurred every few weeks and I can’t believe nobody ever walked into the communal bathroom while she was, um, decorating. I did hear from friends who were a year younger that the incidents did not continue the following year, so it must have been either a fellow senior or someone who withdrew.

    *Probably the second craziest thing I witnessed as an RA was during the search for the Phantom Pooper – I was on duty one Friday night and went into one of the bathrooms during my rounds to check it. While it was PP free, this bathroom happed to have a large bathtub in addition to showers (old dorm). As I walked in, I heard a noise and then a “shh! Shh!” so I went to investigate. The stall door to the tub space was wide open, and there were three residents in there naked (two in the tub, one outside it) with a bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill. Sooo instead of catching PP, I got to have an incredibly awkward talk about doing private things in private spaces, rather than a communal bathroom, AND had to write them up for alcohol/toss the Boone’s Farm as I knew they were all underage.

  133. Cese*

    Man, I have so many stories to share! I worked as an RA 3 years and then in professional residence life services for another 5 years. Some of my craziest stories:

    – A student kicked an elevator door as it was closing to try and keep it from shutting on their friend. Ended up slicing open their Achilles tendon. The blood stains in our residence complex area grounds (from walking from their building to the main building) were there for a long time.
    – A student was so drunk, they pooped themselves and my poor colleague had to act as their nursemaid all night while they continued to poo uncontrollably.
    – A student became violently ill after drinking too much and clogged both her toilet and her sink. This clog ended up causing a flood in her entire building, that travelled 7 floors.
    – A student called for assistance about a weird bubble on their wall. We came to investigate and there was indeed a bubble. We tapped it and water burst out. More bubbles began to appear. Turns out, a tree seed had started to grow on the roof of their residence and had grown down through the pipes into this student’s residence room. The water was trying to get through the pipes normally and as a result of not being able to access the pipes, had started to bubble up in multiple areas.
    – Two male students installed a stripper pole in their residence room and paid girls on their floor to strip, providing them 60% of the profits they made in cover charge from other students visiting their ‘club’.
    – During a room check over the holiday break, we found a student’s collection of skeletons. They had a small squirrel skeleton posed in their window sill, as well as other small animals.
    – A female student had clogged her toilet with poop but never called maintenance for assistance. She continued to use the toilet and just didn’t flush. We checked rooms over the holiday break and when we went into hers, the smell was like DEATH. The poop was so high, the toilet lid at this point could barely close. Yup.
    – During another holiday break, we received complaints about a smell. We entered a residence room and they had a full-sized fridge. Their fridge had broken over the break and over $500 worth of meat had rotted. They had to throw out the entire fridge. The smell was HAUNTING.

    I am sure there are more, but these are some of my top currently. I also dealt with numerous drug, mental health, sexual violence, domestic abuse, etc. situations. It was a great learning experience, but I am happy I no longer do it!

  134. CoveredinBees*

    Can I get clarification as to what an RA does in college dorms? Not from the US and we didn’t have dorms. There was student housing but it was just apartments rented only to students for low rates and to keep us from making people in other apartment buildings miserable. I had always thought it was some sort of adult presence until I heard it was usually other undergrads who were paid in free/discounted housing. What do they do?

    1. Mahkara*

      Usually the idea is that they enforce rules – e.g. tell other students to be quiet when it’s late, handle complaints about noise/microwaved fish/keep people from propping exterior doors open, etc.

      They may also do some minor administrative things, like letting students who were locked out of the dorms back in again, let janitors in, etc.

    2. Bitsy*

      In addition to emergency response and safety, they’ll provide referrals to campus support services. If a student is in need of mental health assistance, or needs tutoring, the RA can help them get it. RAs will counsel students who are having conflicts with their roommates and neighbors, to try to alleviate the conflict and also teach them better conflict resolution skills.

      RAs will usually also provide developmental programming to their residents, bringing in speakers and events to help enrich students’ cultural, personal, and intellectual experiences.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      At my school the freshman and sophomores had to live in dorms (or sorities/fraternities) so that was the majority of dorms residents. Sophomores and juniors usally moved out to live off campus. No drinking (because the residents were basically all under 21). The Resident Advisors (RA) were sophomores and maybe juniors possibly seniors, but peers of the students they supervised. They had some training and were there to keep things in order on the floor and enforce rules and run some sort of social activities on their floor. They were not there to be mental health professionals for sure.

      They got a single larger room (origially a 3 person dorm room) and possibly free board or at least a discount on their dorm room. Hopefully they got some pay too.

      I had sex-segregated floors (girls floors and boys floors) with single communcal bathrooms and showers for the whole floor. I think there were hours that opposite people were supposed to be out of the room / off the floor, but I don’t recall.

  135. Mahkara*

    Wasn’t the RA but…

    My dorm started with two RAs – the strict one who actually did her best to enforce the rules and the one who wanted to be friends with all the students. (This included supplying them with alcohol since he was over 21 and we were all 18. He was clearly a *stellar* influence on all of us. /s)

    Anyway, when we returned from Xmas break, popular RA was gone. Apparently he had gotten one of the students drunk and sexually assaulted her.

    After that, stricter RA was completely demoralized and basically stopped bothering to enforce any rules.

  136. The Wizard Rincewind*

    I had a massive crush on my RA freshman year and I made it weird. Sorry, Steven. Hope you enjoyed the mixtape anyway.

  137. Clever Pseudonym*

    Story #1: A friend of mine was, not the RA but the receptionist/student worker manning the front desk of her (football-mad) university’s athletic dorm, and it was clear that a significant percentage of the residents were deeefinitely there more for their sports skills than their academic prowess, let’s just say. One day, in a fit of boredom, she tried an old prank: putting a sign above the water fountain in the lobby reading “THIS WATER CONTAINS HYDROGEN”, and counting how many people walked up to the fountain, read the sign, and then walked away without drinking. It was apparently a hilariously (or maybe depressingly) large percentage of the residents.

    Story #2: Another friend of mine was an RA at a different dorm in a different university, and while most of the residents on his floor were fine, he had That One Guy who was, basically, functionally insane. There were a number of stories involving this guy, but my favorite was the one where he came back to the dorm blasted out of his mind at 3 am on like a Tuesday, and started running up and down the hallway bellowing at the top of his lungs. Naturally everyone got up and opened their doors to be like “what the hell”, including the RA. Which is apparently what Guy was waiting for, because he burst into the RA’s room, looked around wildly, spied a box of Life cereal sitting on RA’s desk, lunged for it, and charged back down the hallway, throwing handfuls of cereal at everyone and screaming “I AM THE GIVER OF LIFE!!!”

  138. AP*

    I really loved being an RA! Especially helping the freshmen get oriented and comfortable in their new setting.

    THAT SAID: the freshmen sometimes lacked boundaries. We had a co-ed bathroom, and a group of freshmen boys would routinely come stand in front of the shower I was using to ask if they could borrow markers, or printer paper, or any number of things that absolutely could wait 5 seconds. They were a very nice group of guys, but, like… wait 15 minutes. I’ll be out of the shower soon.

    Less heartwarmingly, I once had a set of roommates that were having issues, let’s call them Sarah and Kate. Kate kept having her boyfriend over and would Sarah from accessing the space. One day Sarah comes to me around midnight, in tears: Kate and her boyfriend got up to… hijinks in Sarah’s bed! Her actual bed, where she sleeps! Evidently Kate’s sheets were dirty?! Ended up having to have a serious conversation with Kate, paid to wash and washed Sarah’s sheets myself, and loaned her an extra, clean set I had for that evening. But Kate’s complete confusion why her roommate was upset was honestly bizarre.

  139. Grace W*