the quiet floor, the ghost cat, and other stories from college RAs

Last week I asked for stories from people who were RAs (resident assistants) in college. Here are some of my favorite stories you shared.

1. The dog

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. The skunk

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 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 went 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.

3. Say Anything

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.

4. The romance

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.

5. The cleaning

I had one mother pin me during orientation to ask how often her son’s bathroom would be cleaned (4 people shared 1 bathroom in a suite). I said, “they’re responsible for their own bathrooms.” That was CLEARLY unacceptable. She insisted I had to come in and clean up after her son (not enough money in the world). I said nope, it was on them. “But my son doesn’t know how to clean a bathroom!” I replied, “Well, he’s here to learn. There’s a Walgreens down the street where you can buy him cleaning supplies and show him how before you head home.”

6. The DJ

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.

7. The overly enthused coordinator

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.

8. The ghost cat

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.

9. The quiet floor

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.

10. The gorilla

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.

11. The pudding wrestling

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.

{ 373 comments… read them below }

  1. Minimal Pear*

    I gotta say, I’m a very nosy person and I desperately want to know about the human trafficking.

    1. fragilistic*

      The most likely answer is an escort service, which may or may not fit the definition of human trafficking, depending on who you ask. I doubt the dorm was a hub for smuggled immigrants working in sweatshops.

    1. Retro*

      I love that they were responsible about it! I can imagine them saying to the disciplinary board “We want to be college kids and pudding wrestle but we’re not complete monsters! We did clean up and were prepared to do so!”

          1. Siege*

            I didn’t tell this story on the RA thread because it was tangential at best, but my school got the 866 and 867 exchanges (I think prior to this they’d been four-digit numbers for room-to-room dialing because the exchange was assumed but getting a new area code broke the system so we got a) a new area code; b) a new exchange number because it was easier to do that than update the campus system; c) 7-digit numbers for toom-to-room dialing), and they actually assigned 867-5309 my senior year. No one really knew that but people noted all the changes and tried the number. It was replaced within 2 days.

            And this was 1999, so … not the same impact as doing it now would be. I think of that story EVERY time I see your username.

            1. Generic Name*

              I went to college in the late 90s, and my university had 5-digit room-to-room dialing, and my freshmen year (1997) my number was 7-5309. I made a joke about the phone number being “Jenny’s”, but people just looked at me blankly. :/

              1. Elsajeni*

                In my freshman year, my dorm’s student government representative had studied the possible letter combinations for his room extension, found the one truly memorable possibility, and had business cards printed to hand out around the dorm giving his number as “348-SHIT”. And you know, that was in 2004 and I still remember his number, so…

        1. quill*

          It’s nuts but they cleaned up after themselves and other than noise that is literally all I care about.

          … I would not be a good RA.

      1. Nerdling*

        Yeah, I absolutely love that about them! They sound like some fantastic kids, and I hope they had a wonderful pudding wrestling time.

        1. Pennyworth*

          They reminded me of the son of some rich people I used to know. They had a lovely beach house and decided to allow their 14 year old to spend a week there with five friends on the condition that they didn’t mess the place up. At the end of the week they were impressed to find the house was immaculate. They were ‘thank you letter’ types, so over the next few days they received letters from the boys who had attended, all 32 of them – their son had invited his whole class and kept it a secret. I guess he would have been good at cleaning up pudding too.

      2. RPOhno*

        I love that, instead of relying on the ol’ “Well, the manual doesn’t explicitly prohibit pudding wrestling”, they arrived prepared to dispute the disciplinary violations in a way that was less likely to add “Item 11.2.1(b): Pudding wrestling in any residence or shared space is prohibited” to the student conduct manual

        1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

          We call those the “Dave rules.”
          Because in any organization’s bylaws, you eventually get to the ones where you can see someone’s name parenthetically after it. “You’re not allowed to do that anymore, (Dave.)”

        2. Just Me2*

          This sounds like my son, starting about age 10. He and his friends still remember the ever-increasing House Rules posted on the refrigerator.
          Because his best friend needed to know You MUST Use the Shower Curtain While Showering.

      3. Snow Globe*

        And somehow I’m picturing the guys from Animal House, dressed up in suits while giving inspirational speeches -“did we give up when the germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

        1. Abogado Avocado*

          Yes, that’s it, exactly!

          (I do hope this pudding wrestling story is in any remake of Animal House.)

          1. nonprofit llama groomer*

            Your user name is excellent. I just realized how much avocado sounds like abogado YESTERDAY while I was grocery shopping. I’m a lawyer in the USA, so of course I know the term abogado, and am not at all fluent in Spanish but somehow remember all of the food words from high school Spanish 30+ years ago.

              1. whingedrinking*

                I once had a student tell me “My mother is a nurse and my father is an avocado”. (English as a second language teacher. Student was from Mexico.)

  2. Dust Bunny*

    11. Oh my god. Confession: Freshman year, my student advisor tried to organize a pudding drop, where someone lies on the ground and you try to drop pudding into their mouth from the second floor. Only the weather went to Hell that night so we did a pudding drop in the stairwell. I’m sure you can imagine what that looked like when we were done.

    We did clean it up, at least, and we did a good job. Thank goodness there was no carpet (we wouldn’t have done this on carpet, of course, but we were still young jackasses enough to do it at all) but in retrospect I’m mortified.

    1. mcfizzle*

      My freshman year roommate and I were bored one night, so we started throwing an orange back and forth in the hallway. After a few minutes it was basically pulp in the rind. After a couple more minutes, the whole thing exploded against the wall after a bad aim. What did we do? Found another orange, of course!

      We did cleanup (and I *think* we did a good job) but looking back, not my finest moment.

    2. Julia*

      If making a mess and then cleaning it up your freshman year of college is mortifying, most of us should be a lot more mortified than we are about the stuff we got up to in college. Many of my messes I did not diligently clean up afterward, both metaphorical and real.

      1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

        Yeah, I’m thinking about the time my freshman roommate and I (a) shook up cans of beer–gentle readers, we were under drinking age at the time–and threw them off the roof of the building and (b) invited the RA to join in when she found us.

        Did not clean that one up in any way, shape, or form.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I’m not sure how much contact most students have with their custodial staff but we were encouraged to be on a first-name basis with ours (small school, small town). Very effective with all but the most spoiled a-hole students.

        Also, if my parents had found out they would almost literally have skinned me alive.

        Also . . . I have to live with myself.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I can think of several incidents, too, where we cleaned up someone else’s mess so the custodial staff wouldn’t get stuck with it above and beyond regular duties. It was pretty clear that they were there to do routine maintenance, not wait on our stupidity hand and foot.

          One year, somebody left a frozen turkey in a ceiling over Christmas break, and there is nothing worse than rotted poultry. Unfortunately, I don’t think the school ever figured out who that jackass was but they would have been expelled for it. It was *vile*, and I still hope that none of my friends knew and just didn’t say.

  3. Tabasco Fiasco*

    #2: Is this a certain private college straddling two New England states and was a breeding ground for the worst of the worst on Wall Street?

    I wish I had a fun anecdote. My university just seemed to be a breeding ground for petty tyrants who had a ton of school spirit. A friend dated, then married one of the RAs. It’s been 20 years, and she’s A.) exactly the same, and B.) running the program that, among other things, oversees the RAs.

      1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

        That college was my first thought, but I feel like it might also be one of the ones in Maine?

        1. Tabasco Fiasco*

          Yeah, I was contemplating those, too, but I have firsthand experience with undergrads in said college.* Still, it is sad there are so many candidates to choose from.

          *I say this somewhat tongue in cheek. There are some remarkable folks from that college, and there are entitled snobs everywhere, including my own comparatively obscure humble alma mater.

        2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

          I taught at one of those places in Maine for a couple years, and that doesn’t sound like my students. Yes, there was some serious entitlement, but overall not nearly as much as I experienced at a Big Ten school in the Midwest.

  4. Anonymous Poster*

    I have another story–

    My university occasionally had hurricanes roll through, and they wouldn’t necessarily be bad enough where we would need to be evacuated, but classes would be cancelled. One year, the residents were incredibly bored and cooped up, so they barricaded the doors, laid down tarps up and down the hallway, and all used whatever mineral oil and lubricant (yes, that kind) to make a giant hall-long slip and slide.

    It was epic.

    There was a lot of damage.

    It ended probably exactly as you imagined it would. But still, it was very impressive. I’m also very glad it wasn’t my floor. The RA of that floor was busy sleeping with their significant other when they weren’t supposed to be. Don’t worry though, they weren’t fired – I’m still not aware of just how bad you’d have to be at your job there to get fired for anything. Adult staff members occasionally physically threatened one another and still were working together the next day.

    1. Gumby*

      One year our campus flooded (very rare event). The worst of it was happening overnight. Calls went out and RAs rounded up anyone who was still awake and willing and took them to the library to try to save as many books as possible. Classes were cancelled the next day. It was a thing.

      At the same time, some of the fraternities discovered that the standard bed mattresses provided in student housing were partially watertight and would float for quite a while before becoming waterlogged enough that they could no longer be used to raft down Campus Drive. At 3 a.m. (They ended up having to pay for replacement mattresses but I don’t think there were other consequences. If there were, people weren’t talking about it.)

  5. Ray Gillette*

    These are all excellent, but my favorite detail might be how the owner of the ghost cat didn’t bother to discreetly dispose of the litter box when they moved out.

        1. LunaLena*

          My thoughts exactly, it seems like a very deliberate “mistake.”

          I wonder if the sound was something like a cell phone ringtone. I have one that is apparently very realistic – it not only startles people into looking around for a cat, it has attracted the attention every cat I’ve ever come across (one cat even sniffed my phone, then went back to searching in disgust with a “that’s not it!” look). I even used it once to lure out a stray kitten that was in need of medical attention! I suspect the person in the story had something similar and started messing with people after being asked about the ghost cat so many times.

        2. Jessica Ganschen*

          When I was in the Air Force, I had an instructor who was an old school Army guy, and he told my technical school class a story about how he and a roommate in their technical training days had done exactly that with a fake dog. They had food and water bowls, a leash, dog toys, and (this is key) a cassette tape with dog noises on it. Of course, they only had to keep up the ruse for a couple months, as opposed to a year or more.

          1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

            Well, if we’re getting into sea stories….
            While in the Navy in the 90s, I was stationed on a drinking island with a military problem. My illustrious roommate got sent to Anchorage to dry out and returned with one of those big Russian fur hats with the big red star in the middle. He kept it on the shelf by the door where one would normally keep their hats. One time, we’re standing a barracks inspection. In walks the Chief full of salt and vinegar. Dings us for this, dings us for that. As he left, he caught sight of the fur hat and snarled, “No pets allowed in the barracks. Carry on, gents,” winked and left.

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              I was in the Air Force and invented a roommate, Martha Frucker, who was a shift worker and sleeping during our rare inspections. They’d peek in and see a wig on a styrofoam head facing the opposite wall, and pj’s stuffed with towels, and my room didn’t get entered for at least two years – and I didn’t get assigned some random annoying roommate! Before Martha arrived, and I was subject to inspections, I attached a long-dead cockroach to a thread and hung it from the ceiling where it would thwack someone in the face as they entered. The only comment on the inspection report for my room was “Remove unauthorized dead pet.”

    1. As per Elaine*

      I had a friend who did pre-reunion dorm cleaning one year (where you stay a week or two after finals to clean rooms all day — hard work, but it was good money) and her horror story was someone who had an illegal cat and just… didn’t clean up after it. at. all. From her description of the room, it was not even clear that the cat HAD a litter box.

      I can only imagine how awful it must have been for the student’s immediate neighbors.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Our dorm had cat that adopted us all, and who would come and go as she pleased. I fed her and kept my door ajar so she made my room her home base.

        My next door neighbors for some reason left a suitcase in hallway near their door (our doors were slightly indented from the main hall. Dorm cat decided that it was a litter box. Unfortunate, but I continue to feel no remorse.

        Also, that was The Best And Most Ornery Cat ever, and she came home with me when I graduated.

    2. SQL Coder Cat*

      My college dorm had a rule that you couldn’t *keep* pets in the dorm. So practically every Saturday morning, my then-boyfriend who lived off campus brought his cat over and anyone who wanted could come over to my room and play with her.

    3. Ashloo*

      I worked for my university during summers turning over the dorms. Students leave insane things behind. International students would leave tons of designer goods behind because they wouldn’t fit in their luggage, I guess. Saddest (and really gross) are bags of vomit hidden under the bed. :/

      1. Bookish Person*

        Oh yuck!!
        I also worked for maintenance one summer turning over dorm rooms.
        The worst we had was the party/problem freshman floor, several rooms were left completely trashed, including paint being pealed from the walls. Across from these rooms was a utilities access panel they had broken into and stored all their empties. Whoever got to pull them all out counted 50+ cheap liquor bottles, 40s and some beer cans (my state has a deposit on cans, so that’s actually money, otherwise I’d bet there would have been bags worth). Then the best was a shot glass, condom (still wrapped, no worries!), and a note with “good luck!” written on it left on the drinking fountain. So someone at least wanted to gift us something?
        But no vomit, thank god!!

    4. Tafadhali*

      I had a secret dorm cat in college and did NOT leave a litter box behind after her semester in a dorm (we moved into a house senior year), but she did spend a lot of time trying to climb the Venetian blinds as a kitten and I was a bit concerned/curious about what ResEd would make of the little teeny holes in the blinds.

  6. Narise*

    Ironically back in the 90s our Drug Free Youth group that I was a member of scheduled and had on an activities day girls wrestling in Jello. I think 15 girls made Jello all week to have enough to fill small pools. The optics are as bad as you can imagine, girls covered in Jello laughing and guys standing nearby drooling and no teachers nearby to witness or testify it happened. This was high school not college and no one questioned the idea. I still laugh every time I think of it.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      TBH my campus did Jello wrestling as a . . . there was one specific event (I forget what it was), but it was not unheard of to just do it because why not? It was all very coed, too.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      My college had Mud Wrestling as an annual event, with entry fees, the proceeds going to the March of Dimes. They made a big mud pit and had referees with loudspeakers, and hundred of people showed up. One of my favorite pictures of all time is one I took of my boyfriend, now husband, and his friend getting hosed off after their event. They still had to spend nearly an hour in the showed cleaning dirt particles out of every orifice. It’s been over 30 years and it’s one of his favorite memories.

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        My college had a similar-sounding event run by Greek Life, although it had an added tug-of-war component.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yes!! My college did Z day activities, which included a tug of war over a mud pit. Our team lost and I have a lovely 8×10 of me being hosed off. My children love to post it on Facebook a few times a year.

    3. irianamistifi*

      Our college’s Scifi/Fantasy group sometimes made the pilgrimage to another college in another state to join their Scifi club’s “Coed Naked* Blood** Wrestling***” event. In honor of Cthulhu.

      *Not actually naked. Bathing suits were worn.
      **Not actually Blood. Red Jello.
      ***Not actually Wrestling. Just throwing Blood** at each other.

      It was held in a kiddy pool on the lawn and aside from the jello stains on skin and bathing suits, was a fun time all around.

    4. The Smiling Pug*

      My university did shaving cream battles for Meet the Greeks and Freshman Orientation week. I was too sick to participate when I was a freshman, but I had a lot of fun watching people running around crazily in swimsuits, chasing anyone they could find with cans of shaving cream.

    5. Meganly*

      My university had a jello wrestling contest as a sanctioned activity, but it was open to all genders. I skipped it because I wasn’t interested in wrestling or staining my clothes. There was also a giant foam party that year. That was pretty cool.

    6. Princesss Sparklepony*

      Reading all these makes me realize how straight laced my university was. We had dachshund races and pancake breakfasts. But there was a lot of weed around. Rasta parties were big… And drinking, lots of drinking but only on Friday and Saturday because Sunday was for studying so you were ready on Monday.

  7. Exhausted Employment Attorney*

    Number 4 reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, “Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris” by Paul Gallico (“Flowers for Mrs. Harris” in the UK). The 2 love interests are in danger of “missing each other” for their failure to discern that the other person reciprocates their feelings. At her last dinner with them, the titular Mrs. Harris finally snaps, asking why they haven’t gotten their collective acts together, and they each begin a sentence with “He can’t—!” and “She can’t–!”

    And Mrs. Harris, with her signature mischievous chuckle, says: “You’re both in love, right? ‘Oo can’t do wot?”

    So thank you, LW4! You’ve made my day.

        1. Becky*

          There’s an older version starring Angela Lansbury from 1992 which I grew up with and adore to pieces. On IMDB the title is “Mrs. ‘Arris goes to Paris.” And there’s a new version being filmed that is supposed to come out in a few months. (Looks like it is in Post Production, under the title “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.”)

          1. sacados*

            Yes that’s the one I’m talking about! So good. Had no idea about the new one in the works tho, that’s exciting

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Sounds like my brother and his fiancee. He asked her out, and she said no because of a schedule conflict. He thought she was lying and trying to let him down gently, and he kept missing her hints that he should ask her out again. Fortunately, she got less and less subtle until he got the point!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This was my brother and his wife. They liked each other and kept mentioning it to friends until one of the friends told them to stop moping and go out with each other.

      2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

        I’ve never understood this. Why wasn’t she just like “That time doesn’t work for me, but the next Saturday does.”

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          She was really busy at the time and didn’t have any good time to meet up for at least the next few weeks. 99% of the time, a woman is lying if she says that when she’s got her dating hat on, but this time she was telling the truth!

    2. Forrest*

      My partner had to do this for two of her flatmates who kept confiding their love for each other to her, a story she was able to tell in her speech at their wedding!

  8. Baz*

    One of my RA friends made a delightful discovery in her floor’s oven one evening. A resident had found a road kill owl and wanted to preserve it, so they were oven drying it at a very low temp which is not a taxidermy technique I am familiar with. They had to block off the kitchen until professional cleaners could sanitize everything. I don’t know what became of the owl.

    1. LimeRoos*

      Hahaha that’s horribly amazing. There is something about animals in dorms. My friend’s roommate was a hunter, and we came back to hang in his dorm and play video games, but roommate had put a Skinned Squirrel Carcass in the bathroom to er, hang dry? No idea. But yeah, that was something else. I don’t think anything happened to the roommate either, other than don’t do it again.

      1. Delta Delta*

        This makes me remember my old dorm roommate, who thought for some reason it would be a great plan to have a jar full of zebra mussels. But our room was very hot all the time, and she basically cooked them in the jar. I gag at the smell, even now.

    2. Velocipastor*

      My uncle (smart, attractive, jock) took anatomy in college back in the early 80s and he had to procure his own small animal to skeletonize for his final. A group of girls happened to walk into the dorm kitchen to see him cooking something in a large stew pot. Intrigued to see an alpha male such as himself in the kitchen, they asked him what he was making. My uncle has a dark sense of humor and a mischievous streak so he told them to take a look. It was cat bones. He was boiling and bleaching cat bones in his dorm kitchen.

      1. Rara Avis*

        My grandmother was a bio/chem major in the 20’s. (1920’s, that is) She was skeletonizing a cat skull in a pot on the stove at home. HER grandmother came in to see what was cooking. (My grandmother had very deliberately NOT used her grandma’s kosher pot. That did not make any difference in the resulting kerfuffle.)

        1. KateM*

          My sister was a bio major, too. She had a mouseskin hanging at the wall over her bed at some time. (That was a ruined one so she kept it, although I have no idea what was wrong with it (not a bio major).)

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            Years ago, I was working in a biology lab. The professor had discovered something news-friendly, and so there was a journalist and a camera crew in the lab. One of them spotted a small flask of liquid, Pepto Bismol pink and swirling away on a stir plate. She picked it up. Ooh! This looks really cool! What is it?

            The grad student who’d prepared it told the truth: it was liquified mouse skin.

            That camera crew continued to film, but the lesson was learned. None of them would go anywhere near our science-looking stuff. They’d ask us to move things around so they could get a better shot, but they weren’t about to touch it themselves.

          2. quill*

            My brother’s a bio major. I got him a pheasant to skeletonize for christmas one year, much to my mother’s disgust.

    3. Jay*

      I walked into the bathroom freshman year to find fish swimming in one sink and a large frog in the other. No one on the hall had a clue where they came from. We placed an ad in the dollar-an-ad section of the campus newspaper that said “We love the little fishies/we wonder if they think/but we don’t like the person/who left them in our sink.” No response from anyone.

      Two years later I was at a party and heard someone telling a story about how he decided he was done with his fish tank and left the contents in some random bathroom elsewhere in the dorm.

      1. kathyglo*

        This is funny, but I hate the mentality of “I’ll just pass my problem along to someone else.” People!!

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      I was thawing out a frozen squirrel in the microwave when one of my roommates came in. I was doing something or other with it for my zoology professor. Five more minutes and I would have gotten away with it. She was quite, QUITE unamused.

  9. urguncle*

    Without giving too much information, one of the freshman on my floor my junior year had the genius idea of sending himself packages of drugs through the mail. How could no one else have thought to do something so simple, yet so elegant?
    He’d lost one, but no worries, just sent another to himself while home for winter break. At least he realized when he went to pick up the package and the police were there that he was in trouble. He refused to open the package with the cop present, but the cop insisted, even going so far as to threaten him and refuse a lawyer.

    This kid, facing double digits of federal prison time, got off because of that cop’s incompetence. He did not, however, stay at the school.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      So there were two genius’ who hatched this plan? I was doing a university study abroad and the morning that most of the students left (they left at 11pm the previous night for the coach trip to the airport) I was outside getting some fresh air when 2 very official men drove up and asked for the program director. I had to wake her up as she hadn’t gotten back to the house until about 3 am from getting all of students off home. Turns out somebody had mailed a package of pot to one of the students and the very official men were from the police/customs/whatever (essentially law enforcement of some kind). They were not pleased to find out that he had left the country that morning.

      I found out what was going on when I was talking to the program director later on that day. She was not pleased to be woken at 7 am and having to answer questions about this idiot.

      I loved my RA when I lived in the dorms. She struck the right balance between friendly, keeping a semblance of order, and knowing when to overlook rules. My favorite was when she knocked on my door with 2 pieces of bread and asked to use my illegal toaster. I reminded her entrapment wasn’t a good look, but then offered the use of the magic box I owned. My magic box would, with a few simple words, turn ordinary bread into toast :) I believe she would also on occasion ask to borrow a friend’s, down the hall, magic device that turned ordinary food into cooked food, but wasn’t a George Foreman griller, because those would be wrong and against the rules to have in a dorm.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      At my first job, I started the same day as a receptionist who was eventually busted by the DEA *at work* for doing something similar.

    3. pancakes*

      Who do you think was in a better position to know the rules around 4th amendment search and seizure and 5th amendment right to silence and 6th amendment right to counsel, the cop or the freshman? You think we should drop those rights to make things easier for cops? It’s good the kid wasn’t thrown in jail for this but you seem disappointed.

      1. IEanon*

        Amen. Losing out on bragging rights was probably the only consequence that cop suffered, too. If they were so sure there was something contraband in the mail, contact let the postal inspection service get a warrant and investigate.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        The cop is accurately described as incompetent, and I doubt urguncle would have any idea if they were disciplined for screwing up. But you seem to think it’s bad to be disappointed that the kid got in no legal trouble for a drugs-by-mail scheme. We don’t have enough information to get much of a read on that.

        1. pancakes*

          I do think it’s bad to be disappointed in that, yes, and don’t feel I need more information about this particular student to say so.

        2. Rach*

          Prison sentences for drug offenses are wrong in general so this cop’s incompetence resulted in the best possible outcome. Hopefully the dumb teen learned a lesson.

    4. Oakenfield*

      Hopefully they learned to overnight the packages using FedEx instead of USPS. Overnight mail is handled too quickly to be scanned.

    5. Delta Delta*

      This is not “getting off due to a cop’s incompetence” this is a cop flagrantly violating the constitution. We have the exclusionary rule for a reason, and that reason is exactly this.

      1. lizesq*

        +1. Cop tried to violate a teenager’s civil rights. Good for that kid for being smart enough to tell him to eff off.

    6. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Apparently, one of the RAs at the college where I teach was actually dealing hard drugs out of his dorm room and got busted for it. I was told this by one of the RA’s residents who was utterly disgusted because before his arrest, the RA in question had been a real hard case cracking down on his residents for the merest whiff of pot.

  10. braindump*

    “I got so many calls from his mom that his (single) room wasn’t being cleaned and his laundry wasn’t being done. ”

    “But my son doesn’t know how to clean a bathroom!”

    I always get secondhand embarrassment hearing about the failure to launch that goes on with a lot of young men.

    1. Cold and Tired*

      I always get a kick out of these types of stories because it’s like “your choices are either to teach your son to clean a bathroom at some point in his life, or come over to his house forever and do it for him.” Though I wouldn’t put it past the mother doing it for him forever…..or shaming a possible future wife into doing it.

      1. pancakes*

        You are forgetting the third option, which is pretty much the most popular one: Pay someone else to do it.

        1. Selina Luna*

          As long as “someone else” is getting a fair wage, without harassment, and the bathroom is clean, I’m fine with this option. My husband and I pay someone to come in once a week and clean our house.

          1. pancakes*

            Yeah, I don’t have a problem with that and don’t think many people do. Raising a kid who has no idea how to look after themselves or keep their own space clean is the issue.

        2. DataSci*

          Few people are in a financial situation to be able to hire housecleaners when they’re living away from home for the first time. So even kids raised in a “pay someone else to do it” household need to learn these things. (My kid is nine, so we haven’t taught him how to scrub toilets yet, but he can do his own laundry and cook basic meals, so he’s already ahead of lots of college freshmen.)

    2. Koalafied*

      A great response to, “How often will his bathroom be cleaned?” would have been a cheerful, “As often as he wants to clean it!” LOL!

    3. Jean*

      Right? I’d be embarrassed to admit that my college bound, grown child doesn’t know how to do something as basic as cleaning a bathroom.

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        I didn’t know how to do laundry when I went to college, but you know…Google existed and so did the instructions on the laundry detergent bottle. When stuff needs to get done, you’ll get motivated to learn – though having lived near some gross dudes, I’m not sure they would consider a disgusting toilet a reason to learn to clean.

        1. Rara Avis*

          My brother was a freshman when I was a senior; he had a better printer so I often visited his room. I did point out to him and his roommate sometime in January that they might want to remove and wash their sheets at some point.

          1. Enough*

            My roommate knew of a guy who brought 3 sets of sheets to school in the fall. He put a set on at the beginning of the quarter and would take it off and throw it away at the start of the next quarter.

        2. whingedrinking*

          This is the thing that drives me up the wall when someone under the age of about 50 says, “I don’t know how to do that” as an excuse for not doing a very simple task. Apart from asking a person for help, which has been an option since our species started walking upright, everyone now carries the sum total of human knowledge in their pocket. Whatever it is, there’s probably a YouTube video of someone doing it.

          1. Sasha*

            And it isn’t like there is any technical skill to cleaning a bathroom. Get some bathroom spray, spray it on the surfaces, rinse it off. Your bathroom is now clean.

            “I don’t know how to” is not the same as “I really can’t be bothered to”. If there was something in it for you beyond a clean bathroom, you’d manage to work it out I’m sure.

            1. KateM*

              Eeh, if it’s something that would burn your naked skin if not rinsed off, make sure of that, too.

            2. anne of mean gables*

              I distinctly remember responding to my roommate’s assertion that she “didn’t know how to clean a bathtub” with “imagine it’s a big sink.” In retrospect, being the ex-Girl-Scout roommate who set up a house chore wheel is probably why I’m not friends with my college roommates today but…I stand by it.

              1. Princesss Sparklepony*

                I absolutely love “imagine it’s a big sink.” That is perfect and genius.

          2. Captain Swan*

            My daughter (19) taught herself how to change out the toilet seats in our bathrooms by watching how on YouTube. The only thing we had to tell her was where we keep the tools.
            She can also cook, bake, do laundry, and basic housecleaning, and assemble furniture. I would say she’s pretty well set when she goes to college.

            1. Bronze Betty*

              When my son was in the military, he and a buddy bought an older non-operational vehicle, and worked together to get it running, including putting in brakes, etc. Prior to this, he had not really worked on cars. As I heard about this during one of our Skype conversations, I commented, “Gee, I didn’t know you knew how to put in brakes.” His response: “YouTube, mom!” Instructional videos are truly wonderful things.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                All I will caution is: if using YouTube to repair or install a major safety part of a car (like the brakes), make sure you double check your installation. I’ve heard lots of stories about the failures.

                For reference I have several family members that used to investigate crashes to try and determine what happened and prevent future accidents. Equipment failure is unfortunately a very common cause.

                1. Bronze Betty*

                  I would agree 100%. Although he no longer has that car, but it seems the repairs were good.

                  I have a friend who made his own car repairs when we were younger (before all the computer stuff in cars) and his policy was not to do brakes himself. “I’ll work on making the car go, but I’ll leave it to the professionals to make it stop.”

          3. Doctors Whom*

            That’s how my college age offspring got into electoral politics.

            No one was on the ballot, so she googled what she had to do to get elected,

        3. Another Heather*

          Ha! I went to college before Google. Or the internet as we know it. I was commissioned by my best friend’s mom to teach her how to do laundry the summer before college since I’d been doing my own since middle school.

        4. Burger Bob*

          Exactly. I had never done laundry in my life before I went to college (I had done other chores, but for some reason never laundry). I figured it out. My laundry got done. College students are tiny babies of adults, but they are (sort of) adults. If they have what it takes to actually go to college and keep up with their academic work (and whatever extracurriculars), then they probably have what it takes to stumble their way through figuring out a couple of chores.

      2. Random Bystander*

        Exactly. I mean, seriously–cleaning the bathroom isn’t difficult (just potentially kind of icky)–here’s the cleaning tools, here’s the cleaning products, read the directions and follow them.

        I had some minimal list of things that my children needed to know how to do by age 18. They all exceeded those things (and I did not have a separate list for my sons vs list for my daughter).

      3. Jam on Toast*

        I just sent my oldest off to university this past September. A few weeks in, he texted me in disgust because he had to teach his three 18 year old suitemates the ins and out of laundry. Darks, lights, dryer sheets. None of them had any idea how to tackle it. First test of adulting, 75% got a failing grade.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          I cannot tell a lie. I have never separated my lights and darks (they’re mostly all darks anyway). I also hang all my clothing dry these days, and am allergic to dryer sheets.

        2. PhyllisB*

          Sounds like my son. He’s living in a house with 8 other guys and maybe one of them knows anything about maintaining a house. He says he’s sick of being “house mother. “

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      This is so wild to me! How are the parents not embarrassed? How was the FIRST “yeah we don’t do that here” call not enough?!

      My parents didn’t make me do a lot of chores as a kid but they made sure I could operate a laundry machine before I started college.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I will always be grateful that my mother considered freshman year of high school an appropriate time for me to start registering myself for classes. And I sure as heck knew how to clean up after myself before I left for college.

        1. Crusher*

          I think all the kids in my high school registered for their own classes. Junior high, even. It would have been weird to have your parents do it for you.

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            My middle schoolers did the actual registration for classes themselves; however, they did have to present a signed-by-relevant-adult class form in order to register, and the registration that they did was verified against the signed form by someone at the school.

            They’re both currently learning basic housekeeping and laundry tasks. They’re also decent about cooking, meal planning, and they can navigate a grocery store reasonably well, as they assist with all of the above.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I’d be like, “Wow, lady, I’m sorry you were such lousy parents. Your son is going to have that much more to learn this semester.”

    6. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Even back in the dinosaur era when I went to college, it was possible to meet guys just by hanging around the laundry room with an air of feminine competence. The ones you went out with were the ones who wanted instructions, not the ones who were trying to get you to do it for them.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        Yes! The first couple weeks of each fall semester, there was always at least one lost-looking guy staring at the washing machines in the laundry room. I took pity on them and taught them.

      2. Gumby*

        Let me tell you that the rest of my freshman dorm definitely made fun of the football player whose mom did his laundry when she came to watch his home games. By the time the football season was over, he had a girlfriend who did it. We made fun of that guy so. much. behind his back. But he was kind of full of himself anyway. And seriously – my university was not a big football school. The players were not BMOC or anything. And most that I knew were pretty down to earth and normal. But that one guy. Ugh.

        1. Buffalo Gal*

          My college sorority made basically all our money for the year by doing laundry the first few weeks of school at an exhorbitant rate and then, about 3 weeks into class, offering laundry lessons for about 1/2 the cost of a week’s laundry, when the guys had figured out exactly how much beer they could buy with the money they were paying us.

    7. NotAnotherManager!*

      My MIL is a caregiver, and my spouse never had to clean or do his own laundry when he lived at home (he did cook). Shocker, but, in college, he figured it out just fine once his mom was no longer around to do it for him. I just cannot imagine my MIL telling his RA to pick up after him! (He did turn some of his laundry pink the first time he did it himself, but he learned and never did that again.)

      My kids are young teenagers, but they already now how to clean, do basic laundry and cooking, and even some light mending. They don’t LIKE to clean or do it without prompting (yet), but they are capable of doing it and know better than to leave things lying around for us parents to pick up.

      1. KateM*

        I never learned to cook while living at home. We lived in a small apartment with a small kitchen, sharing it with my paternal grandmother, there was enough tension in kitchen without me trying to join in.

    8. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Sadly, I a female had three – yes three different roommates in college that had no clue how to do laundry. The last one was 21, and incredibly proud of the fact she had no clue how to do laundry…..

      1. Kippy*

        My roommate freshman year was like this (we’re both women). She didn’t know how to do laundry, cook, clean up after herself, anything. She kind of expected others to do everything for her and was genuinely shocked when we wouldn’t. She figured out how to do some really basic cooking and she’d clean when I forced her to but she mostly just lived in her own filth.
        Her mom came down for parent’s weekend in October and washed all her clothes and bought her more sheets. She hauled everything home for Christmas. Her mom then flew down in mid-February and again in April and I swear those were the only time her stuff got washed.

      2. quill*

        My roommate junior year (she was a sophomore? I think?) came to me going “hey do you know any guys? I need to change a tire.”

        Me: if it’s just changing the tire I can show you how to do that.

        Reader, her tire was not flat. It was DESTROYED. Wires sticking out and everything. Turns out she’d heard it pop and then driven back to campus from the next town over because she didn’t know how to change a tire and didn’t want to be on the side of the road at night. Her suspension was absolutely FUBAR’d.

    9. Maseca*

      My SO was that kid who left home without ever having done their own laundry. Their mom thinks it’s sad when kids have to do basic chores like pack their lunches for school, for example. I don’t think she necessarily thought someone would always do it for them, but whether she even thought that far re: basic life skills is unclear. Luckily, their first-ever roommate taught them how to do laundry and basic cooking and cleaning. Boggles my mind that people turn their kids out into the world with no ability to maintain basic hygiene.

      1. Selina Luna*

        I’m teaching my almost-2-year old how to do as many chores as I can while he’s still in his “little helper” phase. Hopefully, by the time he’s out of this phase, he’ll have enough basic skills that “chores” can become a thing to do.

      2. Well...*

        I’m amazed parents have to the time to do that stuff for their teenage kids. As soon as I could drive I was mostly doing my own chores just so my clothes and food were ready on my own schedule.

        1. MsSolo UK*

          I wonder if it’s a SAHP+last kid thing, where the parent needs to stay busy to maintain their identity as long as possible, because a time is looming when they cease to be a Stay At Home Parent and are just At Home, which is harder to frame an identity around in a society that doesn’t value it.

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, definitely. I can’t remember ever cleaning a bathroom from top to bottom all by myself when I moved out, but I learned very quickly. Even before YouTube, it’s really not that complicated. The most important thing is learning to recognize the need for cleaning, IMO. Once you do that, learning how is easy, but if you can’t even recognize the need for it (like sleeping in the same sheets for 6 months rather than washing them), it’s something else again.

        Our son (12) sometimes surprises us by cleaning his own room without being told.

        1. Princesss Sparklepony*

          2nd most important thing – knowing not to mix chemicals. No, mixing bleach and ammonia will not clean faster or better.

    10. Nanani*

      That sounds like a you problem, Dude’sMom!

      But seriously, teach all your kids to clean regardless of which gender box you’ve assigned them. It’s not cute, it’s not “natural” it’s just sad.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes and teach all your children regardless of gender to cook for themselves. It used to annoy the crap out of me when I was in a campus flat my last year of university. There were 6 of us in a flat with shared kitchen and bathroom. One of the other women used to bring the 6 guys from the flat opposite us to our kitchen, cook dinner for them and do their mending. She also did their laundry for them for no apparent reason. This meant that those of us who actually lived there couldn’t use the kitchen because it was full of men who never made conversation with us but just sat there glowering and never thanked us.

        She said “but they don’t know how to cook and do things.”

        The other 5 of us said “well they can learn.” We insisted that if she wanted to cook them a large dinner using all 4 gas rings and the oven each night, she could do it in their kitchen not ours.

    11. 2 Cents*

      As the mom of a 3YO boy, I’m cringing. He already helps with the laundry and the dishes. It’s about being a responsible person!

      1. Selina Luna*

        My kiddo is almost 2 and is in his “little helper” phase, so I’m teaching him to do as many chores as I can. Sorting laundry, sweeping, running a mop (just water!), and wiping up spills have all been mastered. He also helps take the laundry out of the dryer and puts it in the next place.

    12. Up and Away*

      One of the greatest moments of my life as a mom is when my (then) 20 year old son came home one weekend and said, “Mom, I thought about you as I was cleaning piss off the floor of our bathroom last night!” He was appalled that none of the other boys living in the house had been taught how to clean a bathroom or do laundry. You’re welcome son, you’re welcome.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My brother was the guy who knew how to do laundry in his first dorm set-up. He had to reach his college gf how to do laundry.

        His roommates did know how to clean, but always left the kitchen to him because he was the most thorough cleaner in the bunch and food poisoning sucks.

        1. Jay*

          I suspected my husband didn’t know how to laundry because we’d been dating for weeks and I was pretty sure he hadn’t done any. Then I found out he owned a month’s worth of socks and underwear. He knew perfectly well how to do laundry. He just preferred not to do it very often.

          It turned out he knows how to do pretty much everything including sew. I can (and will, given a glass of wine) complain at length about my mother-in-law in many ways, but she did raise all three of her kids (two cis-het-men, one cis-gay-woman) to be fully functional adults who understand that everyone has to pitch in to keep the house running.

      2. Artemesia*

        At our campus only the officers lived in the frat house — so about 6 or 7 guys. When my brother was moving his son in, he was so appalled that apparently the guys the year before had literally never cleaned the bathrooms once. The parents (and I hope the new residents too?) spent a weekend scrubbing down the baths, kitchens, mopping floors, vacuuming etc etc.

      3. Run mad; don't faint*

        Mine was when my oldest son was in high school. His friends were all talking about not being able to cook. When they asked him, he replied that actually, he could. All those summer evenings of (sometimes truly terrible) dinners cooked by one kid or other paid off!

      4. allathian*

        Reminds me of when I was in my junior year at college. I stayed in my hometown, and my dad had just inherited an apartment from his mom, which we fixed up. My grandma lived there before her health deteriorated so much that she had to move into assisted living. It was in the same apartment building as our home, which made it easier for my parents to help and keep an eye on my grandma, whose dementia was getting worse. So in college my sister and I would do our laundry in my parents’ apartment. At the time, I also worked in a grocery store. Once, when the laundry detergent that my mom preferred was on sale, I bought a couple packs and gave them to her as a thank you for using their washing machine. That’s when my mom said that “Now I believe that you’ve really grown up.” After that, I used to buy detergent whenever it was getting low.

    13. Well...*

      I visited Princeton for a conference once in grad school and was shocked by all the informational “how to clean” posters around. My undergrad did not bother, and we all figured it out… We did have coed floors which I think helps spread basic life knowledge across the gender divide a bit.

    14. SQL Coder Cat*

      One of the best things about my high school were the required classes in ‘life skills’, where you rotated through 6 areas during freshman year.
      Cooking- how to read and follow a recipe.
      Sewing- how to do laundry, replace a button, and hem pants.
      Finance- how to balance a checkbook, understand APRs, and make a simple budget.
      Wood shop- how to sand and stain wood.
      Metal shop- how to make a weld. I think we also made a cookie sheet.
      Auto shop- how to change a tire and oil.

      I wish schools today had the funding to do this.

      1. Yay I'm a llama again*

        I heard about a similar class where I live now. It’s three intensive days right after the regular school year ends and the students learn some similar things (I think also tax stuff). It sounded great to me!

        The part that still boils my blood is that I heard about this on the radio, and the DJs were making fun of it! They were mocking the students who took this class, as if they should have learned it all on their own somehow, as if it shouldn’t be on the parents or teachers to, you know, teach them. They were mocking students who went out of their way to learn something they needed to know.

        1. whingedrinking*

          I broke my own rules and read the comments once on an article talking about a class like this. It was insanely frustrating how many commenters were like, “This is ludicrous! Children nowadays are so helpless and coddled, they need to be taught to do the most basic things!” And I’m like…um, yeah? They do, and you did too, once upon a time. No one pops out of the womb knowing how to do laundry.
          There was also a side sneer of “Why are we wasting school time on this, this is the kind of thing that parents should teach their kids.” Should but often don’t. God forbid we try to help kids who might come from difficult places become actual functioning adults.

      2. Bronze Betty*

        My high school had a similar rotation, except instead of Finance and Auto Shop, we had five weeks of different languages: French, Spanish, German, and Russian.

        I really loved wood shop and metal shop.

    15. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      And this are the kind of stories people use as an excuse to bring back military service, whlie doing mental gymnastics trying to ignore why is not a thing anymore.

    16. Just Me2*

      After I read that Jackie O taught her hunky son to clean a bathroom before college, I taught my kid when he was 10.
      After I taught my son how to use the washing machine, he made himself a sticky note with instructions and slapped it onto the dryer.
      He’s still all about trying new things.

  11. Why isn't it Friday?*

    You know what, good for the kid in #2 for turning it around. Most of the time those types of snotty kids just become even worse adults. The skunks fixed him.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Oh yes, please! Even if it doesn’t work to de-jerkify them, it’ll be epically entertaining.

        1. Gracely*

          Can you imagine a skunk showing up on say, the trading floor of the NYSE? Or the board room of certain companies?

          1. DataSci*

            A skunk showing up on the floor of the NYSE sounds like an ending to a great 80s movie. I can see the suits running around and papers being thrown in slow motion while the end credits roll now.

  12. Kayem*

    I almost added to that thread because I have SO MANY stories from when I worked at the dorms, like the guy raising geese in his bathtub, the guy raising antelope in his bedroom, the condiment muralist, the kid mailing himself a car piece by piece (seriously!), and the Night of Chaos. But I was the dorm administrative assistant, not an RA.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I also want to know about these dorms with bath tubs. Even the most luxurious dorms on my campus had creepy shower stalls that felt like you were lead in a slasher film.

          1. ThatGirl*

            My built-in-the-1920s dorm had two shower stalls and a small bathtub, but honestly, it was the opposite of luxurious and not somewhere I wanted to bathe. Bathtubs are for relaxing; this was slightly dingy, never looked fully clean and was next to two dorm shower stalls.

    1. Meri*

      Surely that’s close enough to count! At least I will argue it is, if only so I can get these stories!

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Seconding! You can’t just call something the Night of Chaos and then walk away!!

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      what I like about this post is that all of the first few things were NOT Night of Chaos. C’mon, spill!

      1. Kayem*

        The Night of Chaos.

        It’s a slow burn, but ends in SWAT and one explosion.

        It started with the student who got into a minor fender bender after office hours, but texted his mom that he had been in a car accident. He then turned his phone off and the mom proceeded to panic, calling on-site security. For some reason, security had gone out of town without informing anyone. He didn’t want to get in trouble, so he called me because he knew I was working late to finish end-of-term maintenance requests.

        I called the police station and hospital, but it was a small town with nothing else happening, and they said that there was no accidents reported.

        Having failed on that front, I proceeded to track down the student’s RA to help me find this kid in case he’s bleeding out in his dorm, since this wouldn’t be the first time. Unfortunately, that RA was nowhere to be found. So I go and reluctantly bother the Best RA In The World, who I could always count on. I explained what happened to the student and I was trying to find his RA, since I knew the two of them were friends. That’s when the BRAITW looked alarmed, pointed towards the prairie, and said “Uh…he ran off thataway. He was naked, like completely naked.”

        Half an hour later, I’ve rounded up all the RAs into the office and have my boss on speaker. People are calling people and offices now trying to find the naked RA as well as the fender bender student. Friends of the two were hauled into the office, most of them half drunk.

        Next thing we know, police have the building surrounded and there’s a woman screaming obscenities at us in the parking lot. Apparently the fender bender student’s mother panicked even harder after my boss had reassured her the matter was being handled. She told the police we were holding her son hostage.

        Two hours later, my boss and half the campus housing administration have finished convincing the the police nothing untoward is going on and the police let us go, save a few kids cited for underage drinking and one being taken in for possession of weed. As the weed kid is being put in the cop car, he yells back that the RA we were looking for “just offed another dude.”

        We freeze, the police freeze, everyone turns to look at him. Then from the top floor, a voice screams at weed kid something to the effect of “you’re a dirty narc! I’m gonna kill you!”

        And that’s the point where we all discover that the RA we were looking for, the one fleeing naked into the prairie earlier, stabbed another student after a drunken argument involving a stolen bottle of bourbon and some words about each others’ parentage. The RA had doubled back, broken through a window in his studio apartment, and fled to the top floor, barricading himself in the community room.

        (Don’t worry, the student he stabbed was fine. It was a minor wound and apparently his mom was an ER nurse and taught him some basics, so he gave himself some very wobbly sutures and decided to sleep it off.)

        So now the police has called in the SWAT team from the next town over, surrounded the building the RA is in, and we’re all sequestered off to the side, freezing our butts off, but not so much that we didn’t want to see how it ended.

        The RA is screaming mostly incoherent demands at the police, the police are trying to figure out who else is in the building before they storm in, then the RA loses it and starts throwing Molotov cocktails out the window. One of which lands on another RA’s car, but by then the fire department and EMS were already hanging around.

        SWAT is then ordered to enter the building. I didn’t see what happened, but there was a lot of noise, a lot of shouting, and then the RA flings himself out the top floor window into the bushes. It was a five story drop and he is somehow, miraculously not dead. He gets hauled away, screaming. That’s when the pipe bomb he planted in his studio apartment goes off.

        Fortunately, he was too drunk to know what he was doing, so it was more spectacle than anything, the only casualty a cheap microwave and coffee maker.

        While everything was being sorted outside, a cab pulls into the parking lot and out comes fender bender student, asking what’s going on. My boss, a large imposing man, stomps up to him, hands him a cell phone, and growls “Call. Your. Mother. Now.”

        1. Kayem*

          I should clarify, the mother was in the parking lot at the initial police presence, but was escorted off the property before the thing with the RA started.

          1. SQL Coder Cat*

            This was everything you promised and more. It’s like that Zola movie without the hookers.

          2. CatPrance*

            Starts – throwing – Molotov – cocktails – out – the – window.


            That does it. I am never posting here again — there is NO way that any of my stories is EVER going to measure up to the awesome maleficence of this!

            1. Kayem*

              And that wasn’t even the last time Molotov cocktails got tossed out a window. No place I’ve ever worked has been anywhere close to being as wild as the dorms were. Some of the stuff the kids got up to in the weekends were comic book levels of absurdity. All us office staff would come into work every Monday with our fingers crossed that whatever waiting for us in the stack of weekend incident reports wasn’t going to require a hazmat cleaning crew or the bomb squad.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                KayeM (gotta say I love the name – I’m related to several Kaye’s),

                I too had college experiences with Molotov Cocktails in college, only I was a student and just a bystander (though with the second experience I was called to testify in the hearing after the fact where one tried to get back into housing after being kicked out.

              2. Salymander*

                Kayem, your school sounds terrifying and might be built on a hellmouth. The fact that you survived all of that qualifies you for total badass status for life.

        2. Lumos*

          This must have been so intense to experience but I admit I am laughing so hard I’m crying reading this

        3. Rocket Woman*

          Why was the RA naked? Was he still naked while he flung himself out a 5 story window?!

          1. Emotional support capybara*

            At this point I think the fact that he was naked is the LEAST weird thing he had going on that night…

          2. Kayem*

            I’m going to say the reason he was naked probably involved how drunk he was. Drunken nudity was pretty common on the weekends. I don’t remember if he was still completely naked or if he had put on pants by then. He was at least shirtless, as one would expect of a drunken college student staging a standoff.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Many of us who weren’t RA’s but had “interesting neighbors” shared our tales*. And honestly – the Dorm Admin Assistant is close enough to count for me!

      *Yes I shared a few of my own. Though my neighbors were more destructive than interesting.

    4. Kayem*

      Okay, okay!

      So, this was a dorm for a rather infamous for-profit technical college whose parent organization no longer exists. The college previously housed students in local hotels because they didn’t have on campus housing (the poor, poor hotel staff) and they brought my boss and I on when they had just opened the new multi-building dorms complex. These were apartment style, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms to each unit, housing four students per unit. The RAs had studio apartments, one per building, and there was a studio apartment for an on-site security officer. The construction was a disaster, there was no actual office space so we had to appropriate one of the apartments, which led to some creative office organization.

      So these kids are mostly from rural areas, a lot of farmer and rancher families. The kids from rancher families were the ones who came from lots of money and they were used to having staff to do everything. We had to teach them things like sheets have to be washed, you can’t boil eggs by putting them in a pan on the stove and then leaving for three hours, and ammunition doesn’t go in the dryer to dry off.

      Most of the rural kids had never lived in any kind of apartment complex, so on one hand, I get that they might not have understood some of the things they did aren’t allowed in that kind of housing. I mean, I grew up on a farm in a rural area and it was normal to bring home a baby deer to nurse after its mother had been killed by poachers. On the other hand, my parents didn’t want the wildlife in the house, that’s what the barn is for.

      Anyway, we get a report from one of the RAs that there’s a horrible stench coming from one of the apartments. So, fearing someone might be dead in there, we go inspect the apartment. That’s when we find a whole flock of baby geese nesting in the bathtub in one of the bathrooms. Apparently, one of the students had gone hunting and shot a goose that turned out to be a mother with a nest. So he did the only reasonable thing he could think of doing: bringing the babies home so they wouldn’t die in the wilderness.

      Don’t get too heartwarmed by this story. He didn’t save them for the sake of saving them. No, he stated that he planned to raise them all so he could eat them once they were grown.

      The antelope was basically the same story, only with a juvenile antelope instead of baby geese. Students were complaining about the noise from one of the apartments, so I sent an RA to check. The RA came back yelling that we needed to call the state wildlife service because there was an angry antelope crashing around. The student who acquired the animal didn’t have a roommate, so he lined half the bedroom with hay. Turns out, antelope especially juvenile male antelope, don’t take too kindly to apartment living. It finally got fed up and as my boss and I were approaching the building, it crashed through the bedroom window (first floor, thankfully) and fled into the prairie.

      The antelope was later found by the wildlife extension service and it was fine, save some cuts. Good thing the buildings were constructed so crappily.

      1. CatPrance*

        Hey, if the goose-eating student still has a taste for those things, we have about 3,497 of them infesting our local park, and he’s welcome to ALL the gooses he wants! He just has to sneak off with them when no one’s looking.

      2. Phony Genius*

        I was scanning the comments upward and came across “The antelope was basically the same story.” Automatic must-read.

    5. Kayem*

      Okay, round 2. Don’t worry, I’m working up to the Night of Chaos. It will need its own post.

      The condiment muralist was one of my favorites because they were a very talented artist, even if it was costing our office a small fortune to clean up the mess. I don’t think I have any pictures left, this was well over a decade ago.

      Whoever it was would use condiments of all kinds to recreate famous paintings as well as do their own style of murals on the side of the buildings, in hallways, in common areas, and once, the employee parking lot. Starry Night was expertly replicated with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. The Scream was a ketchup and grape jelly masterpiece. The parking lot Sistine Chapel didn’t quite work out as well, but that’s because it could only be appreciated from the top floor and had been half driven over by the time I got to view it.

      The most elaborate piece was an original (according to the rumor mill), which was a graphic timeline of some local historical event. That one must have taken hours. They used every type of condiment for that one. Peanut satay sauce, sour cream, salsa verde, multiple kinds of jam, the works. This one was done on the side of one of the buildings and I still think the artist purposely picked that night to paint because it was going to get down to -10F the following day. Which it did. And all the condiments were frozen on the side of the building in all their glory.

      Campus housing director was furious and immediately went to pressure washing the building, which didn’t work because it was minus ten out. The art got a bit messed up, but was now covered by a protective layer of ice. So CHD tried pumping hot water from the office, which did precisely squat. He wound up ordering all maintenance workers to chisel it off the side of the building. But since it was -10 out and the construction was so badly done, large chunks of siding just broke off with it.

      The condiment muralist stopped painting after that incident, probably because the college was on the warpath. We never found out the identity of the artist, though after that, the campus housing director finally approved our request for cameras at the entrances and stairwells.

      1. Burger Bob*

        I mean, that’s just impressive! Far more impressive than what I was imagining when you initially mentioned a condiment artist. All of these stories have not disappointed.

    6. Kayem*

      I forgot to include the kid who mailed himself a car. This was a tech college, so there was an automotive track and this student was on it. He discovered that he could get discounted junkyard parts by ordering through the department. It was fairly common for parts to arrive in the dorm mail room as students began their final semester projects, but it was usually things like catalytic converters and the occasional bumper cover.

      This student decided his final semester project was going to be building a car himself. An entire car, bumper to bumper. His instructors thought he couldn’t pull it off and he set out to prove them wrong. Every single day for four months, new car parts would arrive in the dorm mail room. One day there would be a package of bolts, another day there would be wheels, another day a car seat. We started a bingo game each week for what would arrive.

      At the end of the semester, the student had a complete working frankencar. He had even installed a nice sound system and custom lighting and painted it himself. His instructors passed him with their equivalent of a double major in the mechanical and body work sub fields.

      Since the college got shut down due to for-profit shenanigans, all the students lost the degrees they paid for. But I think this student at least came out of it with something better, an entire car as a portfolio.

      1. Phony Genius*

        I can only imagine what it was like when the largest parts, like the doors and hood arrived.

        1. Kayem*

          Car doors don’t seem that big until there’s three of them crammed into a tiny mail room. At least the wheels were fun because we could use them as stools.

  13. nonee*

    I don’t really like #1 – it could also read as “under threat of jeopardising someone’s housing I set myself up to invade their privacy for a year”. I’m not saying it was blackmail, per se, but could be an exploitation of power dynamics. But then, I’m not sure what the expectation of privacy is in thess places anyway.

    1. Rainy*

      If the illicit dog had been discovered, the dog would’ve been sent home; the student would not have been kicked out of the dorms, just asked to return the dog to their permanent address.

      1. nonee*

        Thanks for the clarification! I’m from a country where housing like this is far less common.

        1. Rainy*

          No worries; I just wanted to reassure you that in dorms, illicit pets do not typically result in homelessness upon discovery!

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      There is not really any expectation of privacy. RA’s and student housing admin can come in to your apartment at any time. At one place the RA’s delivered packages to your apartment and would let themselves in if you didn’t answer.
      Although it never happened to me I have heard of people getting in trouble because the RA’s did a surprise inspection. In fact at my college, it was written into the contract the RAs had the authority to come into your room at any time. All they really had to do is knock, in case you were getting dressed or something.

      1. pancakes*

        We didn’t have RAs at my school and it was definitely not my expectation that college employees who might be unhappy with me for breaking some rule or other would enter my room and help themselves to my stuff to remind me of the pecking order, or as punishment. #1 made me uncomfortable too. I can understand that those of you who went to schools where “surprise inspections” are a thing learned to live with it, but I don’t think that is a good way to treat young adults, or anyone really.

    3. Language Lover*

      If I’m remembering correctly, #1 was from a longer post why the poster thought they weren’t a good RA. This was one of the reasons why. Instead of doing the appropriate discipline, they chose to focus on getting puppy time.

      So they’d probably agree it wasn’t great but I understand the compulsion to secure cuddles.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      Aw, I read it as tongue in cheek…they turned a blind eye to it but jokingly asked for puppy snuggles.

  14. Gmezzy*

    I didn’t have time the other day to write in, but need to share this one.

    I was privileged to attend one of the top schools in the USA (you’ve for sure heard of it), and yet this happened. Teenagers are wild!

    I was an RA as a junior in a dorm with a lot of freshmen. As freshmen orientation ended (a dry week), some of the boys on my floor were excited to go to their first “real college party” at another dorm. The theme was “WTF” so you were supposed to dress as weird as you could.

    These 2 guys show up in the doorway to my room shirtless and holding red spray paint. They asked me if it was a bad idea and I, an engineering student, said “yeah you’ll never get it off and it’s bad for you. Don’t do it.” At which point one of them sprayed the other. I couldn’t stop it, so I forced them out on the (tiny) balcony at the end of the hall so at least the rest of us wouldn’t have to deal with the fumes.

    10 minutes later I hear them giggling as they come back in, and they stop by my door again, this time entirely green on their torsoes. They did a good job making a nice, even coat. Then one of their roommates walked by and said “damn dude, that shit will give you cancer.” The green guys freaked out and ran to the bathroom to shower. They were both in there for ages and came out rubbed pink and raw, with little patches of green paint still on their bodies.

    I heard from other guys on the hall that there was green paint in the shower the whole year. And the kicker is that they didn’t even make it to the party!

    1. CatPrance*

      Remember when it was a New Wild and Exciting Thing to have spray-on hair-color like pink and blue and green? A friend decided to go as a Smurf for Halloween and sprayed his whole self.

      He was kind of blue-tinted for days.

      1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        One year I discovered that the Halloween display of spray-on hair color at a particular walmart had glow-in-the-dark spray paint right next to it. Same color of display box. I only noticed it because I saw the brand name, did an extreme double-take (“Krylon’s making hai… oh. oh NO.”) and told the night manager about it. Since she didn’t seem appropriately appalled, I called back in the morning just to make sure. The morning manager went and looked and had a major cow. Turns out the spray paint was supposed to be locked up in another section, by state law.

        I have no idea if anyone bought any before it was discovered.

  15. glitter writer*

    I honestly kind of admire the wherewithal of the pudding wrestlers to first, have a plan to keep the unit clean and undamaged and second, gather all that evidence in their own support.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – sounds like they were very organized folks. Successful event planners/project coordinators/office managers at the larval stage.

    2. Kayem*

      I wish the students in the dorms where I worked were half that considerate when it came to cleaning up their messes.

  16. J*

    “We only ever saw evictions from the quiet floors, and not for noise – one was drug dealing, one was the hallway slip and slide”

    Now I’m cracking up at my desk imagining people enjoying a hallway slip and slide in total silence…..because it’s the quiet floor!

      1. Not a mouse*

        I was trying to figure out if that was a euphemism for something else or if someone set up a literal sliding activity in the hallway.

        1. As per Elaine*

          I won’t discount the possibility that it’s a euphemism, but I think it much more likely that it involved long sheets of plastic and copious amounts of soapy water.

        2. Person from the Resume*

          Pretty sure its not a euphemism, just good clean (?) destructive (water damage) fun.

    1. Ann Onymous*

      My college also had quiet floors, and they were some of the wildest floors on campus because a small percentage of the students living on those floors actually wanted quiet and the rest were people whose parents knew they were wild and hoped that the quiet floor would change them.

    2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      It’s not an appropriate hallway activity, for sure, but I’m kind of giggling that it goes on the list between two actual felonies.

  17. Working Hypothesis*

    #7: When I was living in the dorms at school, out resident heads (one step up from RA, the equivalent of your Hall Managers) were a graduate student couple who had a five year old little boy. He was growing up in the dorm, and he had an absolute blast, as we did with him!!! A lot of the students had little brothers and sisters they missed a lot, and having a little kid around made them very happy. He got in on everything (well, everything age -appropriate; not the sex and the drinking) the students did, from intramural football games to snowball fights. He was the total pet of the dorm, and everybody adored him. As far as I can tell, it was a win-win all around: we had tremendous fun with him, he seemed to have tremendous fun with us, and his parents always had a ton of helping hands ready to keep him safe and entertained.

    1. Emily*

      I grew up at a boarding school (grades 9-12 boarding), where a lot of faculty live on campus, in the dorms, with their families. My parents lived in a dorm apartment until I was 2, and then on campus until I was 6. It’s a wonderful environment to grow up in. It’s more rare for families to live in college dorms, but not weird to me.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I wrote #7, and I’m glad having a kid in your dorm worked for you! I can see that being a wonderful experience for everyone involved, but my CC was weird and intense about it. The few times we ever saw the kids we were forbidden from interacting with them – a simple “hello!” would be met with a stern “don’t talk to my children”. Which is totally her right, but a bit weird that she expected everyone to pretend they didn’t exist. She would also yell at students hanging out in the lounge closest to her apartment in the evening – “MY KIDS ARE NEARBY BE QUIET”, even they weren’t being loud or disruptive. God forbid she hear someone swear! It was like she wanted to pretend she wasn’t living in a dorm with college students.

      So yea, it was just one more weird thing about her.

      Oh and her husband wasn’t allowed (by her) to interact with anyone either. The few times we ever saw him he was nice if a little quiet, but there was a somewhat…sad? desperate? vibe he gave off that led people to wonder/joke if it was a “she has the antidote, that’s why I’m still here” situation. Maybe not the nicest thing in hindsight, but she did a lot of strange things that got the residents speculating.

    3. allathian*

      I’ve only lived in a dorm for the 6 months I went to France as an exchange student, but even then I had my own room with a fridge and a hotplate for cooking. I was doing my master’s and I was 23 at the time, so a bit older than the typical undergraduate college student. I really can’t remember any weird stuff happening there. We were responsible for getting our own meals, although the dorm did serve breakfast. We had a concierge/janitor who lived on the premises with his wife.

      My parents lived in a dorm for married couples until I was 4 years old. I don’t remember much, except that there were lots of kids in the building. The vast majority of residents were students in their late 20s and early 30s and their families.

    4. DataSci*

      My freshman year the RF (Resident Fellow, a grad student / faculty member who lived in an apartment in the dorm building – basically the same role) had two little kids. We adored them, and a psych major in the dorm did a project where they watched the kids watch Sesame Street to see what the five-year-old vs the two-year-old paid attention to. We didn’t see them a ton – they’d be outside playing sometimes, or we’d see them when our hall got invited to socialize with the RF (which they did on a rotating basis maybe once a quarter per hall), but it was always neat when we did.

    5. Echo*

      I also went to a college with this model (probably the same one as you) and yes, our RH’s kid was the cutest! There was a whole small-child gang in our residence hall, complete with a troublemaking 5-year old ringleader who taught all of the other small children how to emit a high-pitched shriek.

      That said, there was a couple with a teenager and they said in retrospect it wasn’t always the best for her to come of age around slightly-older teenagers who were drinking and partying.

  18. Charlie*

    I was an RA and had an excellent relationship with my residents. They loved me so much that for April Fool’s, they still still all my heavy wooden furniture, set up a cosy lounge in the emergency stairwell, and sat around and gossiped until I found them. Then they put it all back!

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      Some of my hallmates went to a late movie, and when the movie got out the concession stand was shutting down. They were gifted a trash bag full of stale popcorn. They came back and taped another trash bag over the RA’s door and filled the whole space up with popcorn.

  19. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

    Oh man, so I missed adding this to the original thread, but one of my very good college friends was an RA during his second and third years. My favorite story is as follows:

    Friend was very worldly and was on a routine round through several dormitories around a quad with a second, very sheltered, female RA. As Worldly RA and Sheltered RA enter a male-only floor (most floors were co-ed) they are approached by a freshman who mentions some disturbing noises from his neighbor’s room that are making it difficult to study. “Not a problem!” says Worldly RA. He and Sheltered RA knock on the door from which a not-unrecognizable mix of squeaking and heavy metal music can be heard. . .

    And the door is opened by one red-faced male student without a shirt! But wait, it gets better! Another male student and a female student are tangled in a *ahem* adult swing suspended between two lofted beds behind the first student. Sheltered RA squeaks and bolts from the doorway. Worldly RA, a bit taken aback, manages to keep a straight face as he says “There were noise complaints, so turn down the volume. Also, that’s a fire hazard. I’ll be back in an hour to confirm there is a clear exit path through the room.”

    Worldly RA did indeed go back and confirm the novelty-violation-of-fire-code had been taken down. But he did have to put it in his notes for the evening and explain exactly what the fire code violation had been to the area manager the next day.

    1. Jay*

      My roommate and I were both Dorm Health Aides (pre-meds with first aid training who had our names listed in the campus phone book). I was not home the one time we got a call and she had to go deal with the guy who had put his foot through a window during some remarkably athletic activity on a top bunk with his girlfriend. They were more embarrassed and ashamed than worried about the injury. Roomie got him bandaged and kind of dressed and got the girl out of the room before the ambulance arrived. I don’t know what kind of story they concocted for the ER staff….

  20. Claire*

    My favorite part of that thread was how I was able to identify an RA alumna from that thread by her description of the architecture from one of the women’s dorms (where I also used to live and work).

  21. Grits McGee*

    Awww, #3 is kind of precious in a good-intentions-but-terribly-inept kind of way. When I was an RA, we were also expected to provide free therapy with no training, and I can sympathize with absolutely grasping at straws trying to deal with other people’s serious emotional issues that are way above your paygrade.

    1. CM*

      I loved this one too because I could totally relate. Nice to know there are other people out there cringing at their past selves (and cringing in anticipation of what boneheaded things our future selves will do)!

    2. JB*

      #3 and #7 sound so similar to my experience as an RA. I was also 19 and didn’t have enough life experience to be successful in the role. My school also expected us to basically be therapists for our residents without training (i.e. mediating roommate conflicts, helping them with mental health issues, etc). My philosophy was always that I was there if needed, but I wasn’t going to go out of my way to involve myself in my resident’s lives, but my supervising staff was really “by the book” and so they had some similar over the top approaches to #7. In our weekly reports, I was expected to share the details of 3 interactions that I had with residents that week. Toward the end, I was honestly just making things up. I talked to some of my friends who were RAs on other parts of campus and they told me they didn’t have to do anything like that. It was absurd, and I ended up quitting at the end of the year. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have applied for the job and it was probably my worst year of college.

  22. RKMK*

    Oh, man, I wasn’t an RA but I was the front desk clerk at a public-but-nerd-and-elite-attracting university in eastern Ontario for years. I’ve repressed a lot of it but some standout memories:

    1: The mom who called me several times over the course of an hour because their child wasn’t answering the phone in their room. (To be clear, it was 7-8pm, and they had spoken to their child the day prior. No indication of an emergency.) I told them I could leave a message for the RA to follow up with them, but considering the time, they were likely just in the common room, or getting dinner, or maybe at the library? “WHY DON’T YOU KNOW WHERE HE IS???” (Apparently she was under the assumption that my entire job was to stop every student as they left the building and record where they were planning to go? Or we had trackers on everyone? I don’t know.) Anyway, many angry hysterical calls later, the student came down to apologize – he’d been in the common room. I couldn’t even imagine a parent being that intense – I had the “dropped off in September, see ya at Thanksgiving, no news is good news” kind.

    2. The Torontonian pre-BComm who tried to “sweet talk” me into arranging him into a “luxury” dorm room when he came in the fall. Buddy, this ain’t a hotel, the front desk clerk doesn’t do room assignments, and we’re a Canadian public university, there WERE no luxury suites. Welcome to sharing a bathroom for a year, buddy.

    1. LJ*

      #2 – hah, and even if there were “luxury” suites, you can bet the university would be advertising them at 2x the price in bright letters on the website, not something to be handed out by the front desk

    2. Time for a slightly different name*

      This Canadian knows exactly which university you’re talking about, having gone to a high school that was basically a factory for producing future #2s. I feel your pain.

  23. WellRed*

    These are all great but I’m laughing my head off at skunk boy and giant melting gorilla head.!!!

  24. Jennifer Strange*

    I’m gobsmacked that not one but TWO parents seemed to think that dorms provided cleaning services.

    1. ZSD*

      When I toured the University of Kansas way back when, they actually did provide weekly cleaning services in the dorms! (I didn’t end up attending KU, though.)

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I have very vague recollections of there being a pricing option for weekly clean linens at another big state university in the midwest US. To be clear, it was just for clean sheets/towels to show up at your door, and dirty ones be laundered. I don’t recall whether they were provided linens, or just the cleaning service for your own.

        It was a very large number. An absolutely eye-opening large number.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      At my university, it depended on where you lived. The traditional-style dorms with one large bathroom for each hall included janitorial services (cleaning daily on weekdays, good to have an extra roll of your own TP for game weekends because the refresh didn’t come until Monday). The suite-style dorms where you had a bathroom or two to a suite of 4-6 rooms plus a common room required that you clean it yourself. (Frankly, I preferred the hall bathrooms both because I didn’t have to clean it and because I never, ever waited for a toilet or shower the entire time I lived on the hall whereas many people I knew who lived in the suites were locked in blood feuds with roommates over cleaning and overlong showers.

    3. IEanon*

      When I lived in a suite, our shared bathroom (two rooms, four roommates) was cleaned every week. We were responsible for our bedroom area, but the bathroom and the sinks in each room were done by a cleaning crew. It’s not uncommon, as far as I know.

      When I studied abroad in the UK, my en suite bathroom was cleaned every other morning. That did seem unusual to me!

      1. MsSolo UK*

        My uni in the UK had cleaners once a week, who ran a hoover around, wiped the bathroom down (and I think changed the sheets? They came with the room, you didn’t bring your own) and mopped the communal kitchen and emptied the bin. If you didn’t leave the room clear you’d get a note on the door to say they hadn’t been able to clean. In the older dorms, once a week wasn’t really enough – one shower between 12 people needs cleaning more than once a week! – but I think they didn’t want students storing their own cleaning supplies. You’re only in dorms the first year usually in the UK, and often you’re kicked out over the holidays for conference guests, so the university is wary of letting students muddle through until they figure it out.

    4. Frideag Dachaigh*

      My sisters college in the late 2000s had this- they would vacuum student rooms, change school provided linens (you would strip the bed beforehand and they would remake it for you), clean bathrooms, take out trash, etc. It was also pretty common if they came by and you were home sick from class that they would bring you soup or other food. Looking in the most recent handbook online, it seems they still provide at least most of this.
      Students also had a ton of freedom in the rooms- most students would build elaborate decks and lofts, they could paint the walls, etc. It was a pretty sweet setup.

      1. LJ*

        Wild, I can only assume they must’ve provided really nice linens too. And did the school just repaint and fix all the construction leftovers every summer?! (I say in astonishment, having gone to one of those large public schools described by others in this thread)

      2. Artemesia*

        We were given one clean sheet a week. You were supposed to strip the bottom sheet and leave it by the door and they would drop off a new sheet, you would move the top sheet to the bottom and put the new sheet on top. The room was vacuumed when the sheet exchange was made, since students didn’t have vacuum cleaners, but no cleaning beyond that. There was a laundry room in the basement.

    5. Critical Rolls*

      I can see where there might be value in it for the school, in making sure that the bathrooms at least remain in good working order and don’t descend into grimy, mildewed petri dishes.

    6. UKDancer*

      My hall of residence (UK) had cleaners for the communal areas (kitchen, hallways) who came once per week and they’d empty your bins but wouldn’t clean your bedroom as that was your job. The rooms were ensuite because it was it was a new hall and so the cleaners didn’t regularly do the bathrooms. If you were in a hall with shared bathrooms the cleaners did those as well as the kitchen and corridors.

      We were expected to keep it tidy and clean in between though.

    7. Berkeleyfarm*

      When I did a year abroad at an English university (one of the redbricks for those of you who know Blighty), I learned that at Oxford a lot of the dormies did have housecleaners (“scouts” IIRC). (I don’t know if they still do. I am old.)

      1. UKDancer*

        I think Oxford still does. A lot of UK universities provide some cleaning services especially for communal areas. In my opinion it’s not usually because they want to indulge the students and make their lives easier. It’s more to make sure the place meets basic hygiene and maintenance standards.

    8. Empress Penguin*

      I’ve been to two UK universities. The first one, I lived in a flat of six with a shared kitchen and two shared bathrooms. These were cleaned once a week by uni staff. The second one, I lived in a flat of four with a shared kitchen and four en suite bathrooms. We were responsible for all cleaning.

    9. Lt. Frank Drebin*

      My university did, thank goodness. The cleaners came in weekly to vacuum, empty trash, and lightly clean our bathroom and kitchen. Even then many of the rooms were gross.

  25. Popinki*

    I’m glad Skunky McCrazymother turned himself around for the second half of the year, but I can’t help wonder what the hell happened over break to scare him straight O_O

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        I do as well. I see it as Dad had delegated “child-rearing” to Mom, and between more physical control and Mom screaming at people enough to wear most of them down, things were relatively ok before.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I am suspecting it was the reality check of grades arriving at home when he was home for winter break. Amazing how the “you will flunk out grades” can cause a rapid change in what stories parents will accept as the gospel from their kids.

  26. Bridget*

    In college my boyfriend had an RA who wrote a musical about his experience called “RA: The Musical.” He shared the soundcloud link and we listened to a couple of the songs. The RA wrote/composed all the songs, and played the main character, and had other RA friends perform the other roles. The plot, as far I could tell, was a Romeo-and-Juliet style resident-and-RA romance but also had songs about move-in day and student government meetings. A year later, I remember my boyfriend bringing it up to this RA and getting a vague, embarrassed response… He ended up becoming a lawyer.

    1. The Smiling Pug*

      This is a thing??? That’s awesome!! Do you still know what the Soundcloud link is?? I love musicals and I’d love to listen to these songs: they sound hilarious.

  27. RabbitRabbit*

    I love the loud music solutions. That one’s very “Mission Impossible”!

    In college, we had a room where the guys would play crazy loud music whenever the RA would go out of town, and kept boosting the power on their system. The way the rooms were set up, power outlets were only placed in the walls between adjoining rooms, and people discovered that if you overloaded the fuses in your wall, you also took out the neighbors’ outlets on the other side. Maintenance would have to reset the system. They also weren’t real responsive on weekends.

    This gave the long-suffering neighbors on either side of the loud room an idea. They made a plot to take all of the electrical items they had and plug them into extension cords, and wait for the ‘concert’ to start. Sure enough, Friday late afternoon/early evening, the RA was gone, the loud guys come back from dinner and decide to fire up their stereo system setup – and the neighbors were waiting. A few seconds of loud music and boom, silence, confusion. Neighbors quickly unplug their gear from the extension cords and hide the evidence, and meanwhile the loud guys come out and ask what’s up. The adjoining neighbors grouch about how their walls’ fuses are out too and act confused, and say maybe the electrical finally couldn’t handle all that power.

    Loud room has no power for the weekend, and they apparently learned their lesson too as the volume stayed at more reasonable levels for reasonable time periods.

  28. Jellyfish*

    I didn’t comment on the original post as I was never an RA, but I do have an amusing dorm story. We were in suites where every two rooms shared a private bathroom rather than having toilets and showers used by the whole floor. My roommate and I got on very well and became pretty good friends with our RA, but we never clicked with our suite-mates.

    One night near the end of our first semester, we heard our suite mates return home around 3am, very drunk, and with male company. From what we could gather, they wanted to enjoy amorous activities, but not all in the same room! (Understandable, I suppose). One couple opted to use the shared bathroom while the other used the dorm room. (Less understandable…)

    Now, we were 19 years old, we’d been woken up in the middle of the night, and people were having sex in our bathroom. It was not a situation that life had prepared us for. However, my roommate and I had invested in a pretty quality sound system for our room. Usually, we were very polite with it and enjoyed decent sounding music and movies at a reasonable, considerate volume. Obviously though, drowning out the noises coming from our shower was the best option we saw in the moment. We put on the Phantom of the Opera Broadway soundtrack and cranked up the volume. Apparently, that’s proper mood killer! The man slurred, “Hey… I think I know this song!” and they vacated the bathroom shortly.

    Our suite mates never mentioned the incident. We told our RA about it the next day, mostly as an amusing anecdote. She asked why we didn’t come get her since overnight male company was technically not allowed. It just never occurred to us though! We didn’t want to get anyone in real trouble either. Getting back to sleep was the priority, and our unorthodox solution worked just fine.

    1. MsM*

      You are lucky your neighbors were not theater kids, because I can think of *several* teenage couples of my acquaintance for whom that would have had the opposite effect.

    2. judyjudyjudy*

      I lived in apartment-style dorm in college with four other people. Every time “Moira” broke up with her boyfriend (it was all very on-again, off-again), she would BLAST the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. Phantom of the Opera was her breakup jam. None of us were theater kids (all STEM people).

  29. NotAnotherManager!*

    I had an RA one year who I’m sure went on to become the HOA busybody who was measuring people’s grass with a ruler. She went on an inquisition any time an alcohol bottle/can showed up in the recycling bins, so, of course, we started collecting alcohol bottles and can from friends and loaded ours up just to rile her up. After one particular show of petty tyranny on her part, we superglued a wall of cans (making sure to put in as many beer cans as we could find) into a solid plank in front of her door, so, when she opened it the next morning, all she saw was a wall of beer cans. I wasn’t there for the immediate aftermath (I had an early AM class), but I understand it was pretty epic.

  30. JustInCase*

    I was an RA at a college that only started accepting females in the 70s that hasn’t seen a lot of update since. Consequently, all of the bathrooms had stalls and urinals. It wasn’t uncommon to walk into the ladies room on a Friday night to find a drunk (or sometimes sober!) girl trying to use a urinal because they were “curious.”

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      My dorm had floors alternating by sex. At some point my floor and the one above had switched. My floor’s bathroom had no urinals, but the girls’ did.

    2. Momma Bear*

      We had the problem of the guys being too lazy to go to their own floor so since the urinal was there…I didn’t care except if they were less attired than they should have been.

      The college turned several freshman single-sex dorms into co-ed to try to limit the damage in the men’s dorm (per the maintenance people). It should surprise no one that while the formerly all-guys dorm had a *little* less damage (I had to pay for missing ceiling tiles on a floor where I did not live), the formerly all-women dorm had a lot more damage. Starting with replacing the fancy drapes in the common area because someone set them on fire.

    3. Enough*

      My dorm was built in 1944. While it went co-ed in the late sixties mine was the last dorm to be converted to women (1973) so all the bathrooms had 4 stalls and 4 urinals and a 4-head shower room that they had put walls up but hadn’t gotten around to getting shower curtains.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      At my Enormous State University, all the bathrooms had both urinals and stalls. Depending on enrollment and housing, the floors could be designated a female or male floor based on who they needed to house there that year. My hall stayed female the entire time I lived on campus, but the other wing of the hall was female one year and then male the next. (Everyone got shower stalls with curtains.)

  31. Richard Hershberger*

    The coordinator who expected the RAs to learn trivia of the residents’ lives: This would have seemed very weird to me in college. I got along fine with the other guys, but the big advantage of going to a large school was that a tiny fraction of my fellow students shared my interests. Think playing D&D is nerdy? Playing D&D in 1982 was far nerdier! I had no expectation of finding deep connections with the guys who happened to be assigned to the same floor as me. An RA asking about this kind of thing would have been kind of creepy.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m the writer for that one, and it was incredibly weird! I ended up giving up on making my CC happy pretty early on and just let my relationships with my residents develop naturally. She may have made me miserable and insisted I couldn’t be a good RA without knowing all of them intimately, but I wasn’t going to be Creepy McCreeperson. And no other dorms were like this! Just the ones she oversaw.

  32. Baffled*

    I’m confused as to why this post is here. Is Ask A Manager not a workplace blog? I’m a senior level manager who hasn’t been in a college or residency situation in over 25 years. I used to rely on this blog for top-level, executive advice, but something has shifted lately. It seems like Alison wants to change this to a relationship or gossip blog? I’ll be looking elsewhere for work-related advice if that’s the case.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Working as an RA is a job. I suspect Alison wanted this for a column on early work roles or similar.

      I think there is just as much work-related information here as ever. But readers are always welcome to flounce!

      1. LJ*

        The parent comment is so over the top (“top-level, executive advice”?) that I have to think it must be a joke or troll post, maybe a play on one of the stories somehow?

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Definitely that gray area where it could be trolling or it could be mere cluelessness.

    2. oookkkk*

      i don’t know, she’s done this kind of fun compilation post for years. but wow, yeah, if having one out of dozens of posts a week be lighthearted causes you that much angst you should definitely move on. it’s a free blog and not every post will apply to you.

      also RA is a job. this is a site about jobs.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Besides, with the type of RA position is where you start learning about good and bad bosses. A most vital task, and how to use your power to the good of others.

        Baffled, I hope you find what you are looking for.

        1. Momma Bear*

          We’re starting the Intern hiring season soon and I think it’s a good reminder of what college is like and what students may or may not understand to be acceptable. This summer is going to be a lot of “how can I teach my Intern professional norms” kinds of letters.

          And the stories are just funny.

          1. quill*

            It always pays to realize that the interns views of adulthood are based on being a bunch of hormonal 18-23ish year olds stacked on top of each other in shoebox sized rooms with poor soundproofing.

    3. HCW*

      Being an RA is a job. I was an RA in undergrad and grad school, and I learned a lot from it. I was awful at it in many ways and cringe at many of my choices, but it still informs my professional experience >10 years later.

    4. ...*


      I just took a quick look at the past month’s posts. There have been over 80 posts (!) in the last month and I wouldn’t categorize any of them as “a relationship or gossip blog.” Some are about work relationships because that’s what the site is about. Of course in the 5 or so years I’ve been reading the site has always been more than just dry work advice, it being entertaining is part of what makes people like it. This is such a strange take.

    5. TRC*

      All of the standard, serious AAM advice and articles are still happening. Occasionally a lighthearted and FUN post like this happens and many of us really enjoy reading it. If you don’t like these posts, skip them and read all the regular ones. And I guarantee you that some of the people recounting their RA stories are “senior level managers” who just enjoy letting off a little steam thinking of times past. It’s fun to laugh, even on a normally serious site like this.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Honestly, a good laugh every now and then is good for your health. And, as crazy as the world has been because of the pandemic – we can all use the stress relief.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I had a busy and stressful day yesterday at work. It was nice to read about peoples’ university days over dinner last night and it made me laugh a lot and forget about work, the miserable stuff on the news etc and just remember what it was like to be a student. I like that there’s a mixture of serious work advice and lighter articles on the site.

    6. Bronze Betty*

      I see quite a bit of advice here that is neither top-level nor executive. There are all kinds of jobs out there, including working as an RA.

    7. Sakymander*

      Being an RA is a job. This blog gives advice for many types of jobs, not just for senior level management. If you don’t want to read about jobs you consider too frivolous, then you are of course welcome to just skip those posts. I hope that these types of topics will continue to be covered by Ask a Manager, along with letters from interns, fast food workers, and others who are not senior level managers. After all, everyone needs advice from time to time, don’t you think?

    8. Allornone*

      Yeah, it’s a workplace blog. And not everyone is a top-level executive. Some people have jobs as RAs. Alison doesn’t discriminate in her advice, tackling all forms of employment, from entry-level, workstudy, retail, internships, etc. to your super-fancy C-suite goodness. That’s what makes this blog good. And yeah, sometimes these types posts are meant to be more fun than helpful, but that’s just Alison shaking it up a bit, in a good way. There’s still plenty of actual advice being offered. Just a bit of fun, too. Heaven forbid.

    9. dawbs*

      I am almost 25 years out of residency situations.
      I also work with kids at my current job and worked with/supervised college students at my previous job.
      The “top-level, executive” advice is something I read. Sometimes it’s useful.

      But things like “how to talk to an employee about needing to wear deodorant” or “How to decide if putting superglue on the doorknobs is ‘get in trouble’ bad or ‘get fired’ bad” or “does teaching kids how to make fart noises with their slime going to cause workplace problems because of angry parents” are literal, ACTUAL problems I’ve had to tackle in the last few years.
      So maybe give a thought that this is your window into how ‘the other half’ lives and the work problems that do actually exist in actual employee’s and manager’s lives.

  33. bookartist*

    Any other working-class folks who went to commuter schools, if they attended higher ed at all, cringing at the above? Putting booze bottles in the trash to rile someone up? Pudding slip and slides? This blog is invaluable to me and so many others, and I know folks here are reminiscing and having a good time, but looking from the outside…this is maybe not the commentariat’s finest hour.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Oh good lord, people are just telling stories, of course one person’s college experience is not universal.

    2. Blueberry Girl*

      You don’t have to go to college to have done something remarkably foolish at age 19 when you had little parent supervision. After all, when I was that age (and not in college) we used to buy seal bombs (small concussive explosives for getting sea life away from fishing equipment) trudge down to the isolated beach, make a bonfire, and then blow them up. No one ever got hurt, but it seems to me on par with pudding slip and slides.

    3. J.B.*

      I think college students as a group are ridiculous, and those who don’t have to work tend to be more so. I work at a university and given that the pool had to be drained because some frat boys climbed onto the glass ceiling and broke pieces off I do believe the wilder stories. That doesn’t mean that I or my friends did that stuff.

      1. pancakes*

        Would you have us believe that young people who don’t go to college (or who commute to classes) are scrupulously sober and safety-minded in their late teens? That is not my experience.

        bookartist, one of the reasons I read & participate in the comments on this blog is that I like to hear from people I might not otherwise meet in my day to day life. I don’t want to live in a bubble, never have. (That’s also why I spent my semester abroad in a rural corner of a then-poor country rather than doing one of my own school’s programs in more comfortable places, for example). I can understand resentment, but I can’t quite understand thinking it’s a good idea for people to avoid any topic that reveals inequality. I also don’t think avoiding these topics would do anything helpful in terms of redistributing resources. If anything it entrenches the idea that there are haves and have-nots and that’s just the way things have to be forever.

        1. bookartist*

          “Would you have us believe that young people who don’t go to college (or who commute to classes) are scrupulously sober and safety-minded in their late teens?”

          You know that is not my point. The experiences related in these comments and in the related post display shockingly cringy behavior. If you want to share your stories in a demi-public forum, be prepared to encounter those not viewing these tales through the lens of nostaliga.

          1. CatPrance*

            Of course the stories are describing shockingly cringy behavior. That’s because the writers are being honest and the stories are accurate! If you want to announce that you never did anything dumb and silly when you were young, you’re not being accurate and we’re not going to believe you.

            1. quill*

              Also nobody wins being put in Alison’s compilation post by telling unremarkably dumb stories, such as “the time my whole floor panicked because it was 99 degrees overnight and everyone was dehydrated” or “The people who kept blowing fuses with their industrial strength hair dryer,” both of which happened to my floor’s RA during the same semester.

          2. pancakes*

            That part was in response to J.B.’s comment. I don’t think I am unprepared for people to have a different take on these stories than the people telling them, no. I’m interested in your take and J.B.’s, and that’s why I responded.

    4. Pikachu*

      I don’t get the comparison. I lived in a dorm with RAs and didn’t do any of this kind of stuff, but coming from a small midwestern town I know plenty of people who either did not go to college or went part time while working and took “work hard play hard” VERY seriously. Just because it doesn’t happen in a dorm doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. You don’t have to be an entitled rich college kid to behave like a moron, especially if you are drinking, in your late teens/early 20s.

    5. Salymander*

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a laugh every now and then, especially since we are actually laughing at ourselves. This blog covers serious topics most of the time. One or two funny posts isn’t making us look bad. And I say that although I didn’t grow up priveliged either. I worked really hard to put myself through school, and I knew the value of having a laugh every now and then.

  34. Constance Lloyd*

    We have out free conforms, as is typical in many dorms. We continued to give out free conforms even after repeated weeks and weeks of wrestling condom water balloons larger than a human head down the halls and into the bathroom showers for subsequent bursting and disposal. Each week these residents tested the limits of lubricated latex before rolling their creations down no fewer than four flights of stairs in an attempt to make them explode and each week they failed.

  35. Sarah Elizabeth*

    On our campus, several of the dorms, and the campus police office, surrounded a large grass field. One evening in the fall is started to rain and the field became muddy. A few students that were walking by the field starting kicking mud at each other. Then a few more joined in. And before long there were well over 100 students slinging mud at each other. A few of my fellow RA’s and I watched from inside our dorm, just in case someone got hurt.

    What we failed to anticipate was that all of the students then headed back to their dorm to get cleaned up. And all of the mud ended up clogging the showers. That’s when we realized what a bad idea the mud fight had been. So I did what any other 19 year old did: I called my dad! He laughed and told me that I needed to call maintenance, but of course they were a bit busy. It took them all day to unclog the plumbing.

    The RA’s got quite the lecture about how irresponsible we were for allowing the mud fight to occur. But we were completely outnumbered, so I’m not sure what we were supposed to do to stop it. The campus police department was next to the field, but they didn’t stop it and they actually had the ability to do do

    1. KEG*

      Did you never go to a summer camp? Campers, CITs & counselors know to hose everyone off outside – paint wars, mud, shaving cream, tomatoes – swim suits under the clothes & shower outside

      1. DataSci*

        Hoses may not be readily available at a typical college. My guess would be that if there are outdoor water spigots, even if they aren’t locked down to prevent shenanigans they’d not have hoses available, and that the gardeners / landscaping people would bring hoses as needed.

        1. quill*

          Yeah, hoses were probably not publicly available. Heck, at college in the 80’s my parents met because my dad had gotten a campus job that gave him access to a hose, which he offered to my mom after she kicked his butt at mud volleyball.

  36. Fishgoldfish*

    Forgot to post mine the other day… our RAs gave each suite of freshmen a goldfish (against the rules) and told us we’d get a prize if they made it through the year. Only three did, I think (and ours made it another two years after that and only died when his bubbler stopped working during a power outage on a really hot day).

    These RAs also threw a party with alcohol for freshmen at the end of the year and got in big trouble for it. When I became an RA a few years later we, uh, did not do those things.

    1. Emily Prentiss*

      The goldfish idea would work really well with an indoor plant of some form though (from my experience small pot plants are often allowed in dorms, and sometimes encouraged).

      1. pandop*

        I know someone who crocheted her son a plant as he couldn’t be trusted to keep a real one alive for a year …

    1. Rara Avis*

      A meant-to-be temporary building that can be trailered in when needed. Notorious for thin walls and flimsy construction. Commonly used in American schools that can’t afford new construction but have outgrown their old space.

    2. Chili pepper Attitude*

      You mostly see portable buildings at construction sites. They are sort of trailer home offices.

    3. Sakymander*

      Very flimsy, prefabricated buildings that can be moved if necessary. Many universities in the US enroll many more students than they have space for, and these portable buildings can be moved around the campus as needed. The walls are super thin. You slam the door and everyone’s pictures fall off the walls. Loud speakers make the whole thing vibrate.

      1. pancakes*

        Universities are using these? That’s terrible. I have only seen them at public grade schools and high schools.

  37. Not your typical admin*

    I lived on a quiet floor and loved it. Most of the students (at least on our floor) we’re just as crazy as other students – they just wanted to be able to control if it was around them.

  38. Midwestern Scientist*

    I missed the thread last week but at my university we had a whole dorm of RAs get fired right before the start of the semester because they threw an “RA party” complete with getting blackout drunk on a “dry” campus. Their bosses found out and fired all of the RAs that hosted the party

  39. louvella*

    I don’t think I ever had a conversation with my RAs the years I lived on campus! But also I went to a college where underage drinking wasn’t against college policy, so that gave them fewer rules to enforce I guess…

  40. RD4LIFE*

    Oh hi, 40-something year old woman who lives in a dorm apartment with her spouse and two kids here. The kids (13 and 11) have lived in a dorm their entire lives. It’s not that uncommon; it’s required at many places. It’s like Eloise with a contact high. The stories I could tell would trump all, but also probably violate FERPA.

  41. Part Time is Best Time*

    #9 Ooh, yah, I was on a “wellness floor” that was similar to the “quiet floor”. So many parties. So much craziness. I was told later than “wellness floor” really meant “party floor”.

  42. Flash*

    My parents love to tell stories about the blizzard of ‘78 in New England. Rhode Island got so much snow that week that the college kids were jumping from the top of their buildings (for fun) into the snow pile.

  43. castelac*

    When I was an RA I woke up one morning to discover that some of my residents had thrown a couch from our dorm lounge into the nearby lake overnight. No one would fess up to me about who did it, so all the furniture was taken away. All my residents hated me even though it wasn’t my decision, it was up to the Hall Director and Res Life. A few weeks later, my Hall Director was standing outside talking to some cops on patrol and watched two of my residents come out of the nearby dorm with another couch to throw in the lake. They were too drunk to look out the window to see if anybody was outside

  44. Library Lady*

    We had student RAs, but in my building, we also had an adult member of ResLife living in an apartment on our dorm’s first floor with his family. They were a nice family, pretty unobtrusive. One morning around 6 AM, apparently he was trying to get his two toddlers out the door for something, and in a flash, the kid he was holding reached out and pulled the fire alarm. At 6 AM. The entire dorm had to clear out and wait for the fire department, all bleary eyed and confused. He later sent an absolutely mortified email to everyone in the dorm, apologizing.

    The hilarious part is that later in the year, there was an outside improv comedy group performing on campus, and a bunch of people were in the audience, including this member of ResLife. The group asked if there were any school staff members in the audience for them to make fun of, and a couple people pointed at the guy. They asked what department he worked in, and then created an impromptu skit about A Day in the Life of this guy, which included a pantomime of someone in his family pulling the fire alarm. I swear to god, they had no idea about the incident beforehand, but there were apparently a ton of my dorm’s residents in attendance, because the place absolutely exploded! The performers had no idea what was going on, or why we all went nuts, but it was one of the most hysterical coincidences I’ve ever experienced!

  45. it's all good*

    I had a RA friend was in charge of distributing the mail. He would order those Columbia 10 CD’s (cassettes?) for a dollar deals.
    He would send it to a fake student on the 7th floor. There were only 6 floors. He ended up with a collection of 100’s of CDs this way. No, he didn’t pay the bills.

  46. Emi*

    All of these stories make me glad my school insisted that all RAs had to be seniors and work under two grad/law student Assistant Rectors and a fully-grown Rector. No sophomore should be dealing with any of this. It’s inhumane.

  47. Tehanu*

    At the university I went to, residences were generally all first-year students, with second-years being the ‘floor senior’. Back in the olden days, you could smoke in your room and floor – I was really happy to get a room on the only non-smoking floor in residence. A story I heard and cannot verify, is that a floor senior on my floor caught a group of students smoking hash in one of their rooms. One of the students was an international student and if he had been reporting for smoking an illegal substance, he would have been deported immediately. So the floor senior wrote the group up for smoking on a non-smoking floor.

  48. product*

    I conceive this site has some real excellent info for everyone :D. “Time–our youth–it never really goes, does it It is all held in our minds.” by Helen Hoover Santmyer.

  49. Tafadhali*

    My dad and mom met when he was an RA in her dorm and I still tease him about it. That he, a mature 19-and-a-half-year-old, would pursue a relationship with a naive 18-year-old entrusted to his care!

    (He wasn’t on her hall and she DEFINITELY is the one who asked him out, but what are children for but to never let go of an annoying joke about you.)

  50. ASW*

    I missed this during the original go-around but wanted to share one of my favorite dorm stories.

    We had an on campus apartment where we were definitely not supposed to have alcohol (and I think at least some of us were underage at the time…). Unsurprisingly, we had plenty of booze in the apartment. One day, the Residence Director (an actual adult who oversaw several buildings on campus) called my roommate in a panic because he needed an apartment to show to some donors and campus bigwigs. My roommate took one look around at the various handles and cases of beer we had and hesitated, telling the RD that she didn’t think it was a good time for campus admins to come by. After some back and forth the RD eventually exclaimed, “I don’t care about the booze, I will come help you hide it, just please let me show your apartment!” Roommate texted the rest of us with a quick heads up, RD was at the door within minutes and helped roommate load everything into cupboards and had a successful tour without any issues.

    1. Fishgoldfish*

      This reminds me both of the time the fire Marshall came while my door was propped with a hanger (aka he could probably see in) and I said “Just a minute!” and panic-grabbed a blanket to drape it over my (not allowed) microwave, and of the time we (underage sophomores) grabbed some wine leftover from a donor event in front of college admins to use for a party *and* abused special dining hall access to borrow large thermoses so we could make (alcoholic) hot cocoa for that same party. In our defense it was a very classy party and no one got drunk.

  51. LCH*

    D: i can’t believe there was more than one PARENT who thought RAs were there to clean the bathroom. also that it wasn’t way past time for an 18 year old to do this themself.

    1. Frinkfrink*

      I went to a private school with dorms that had housekeepers come through weekly to vacuum what little floor showed, empty trash and clean the bathrooms. But in no way was it the RA’s job to do that!

      (My young-adult self was extremely annoyed that the housekeepers would just open the door and vacuum even if you were sleeping at 2PM, but I knew it was my problem, not theirs!)

    2. H.C.*

      Having been evacuated out of my dorm at 1 a.m. because someone microwaved leftovers with the foil still on it, I can absolutely believe there are coddled young adults who haven’t learnt basic life skills by the time they entered college.

  52. Heidi*

    It’s funny that #3 happened to have a movie that was even tangentially related to the issue. Nowadays, Netflix can probably generate a whole category called “movies to watch when your father goes to jail for embezzlement.”

  53. Speaker to Computers*

    I am first of five kids. We had a top-loading washing machine growing up, and as we each got tall enough that we could reach the bottom of the washer to take clothes out of it, Mom taught us to do our own laundry. We could ask for reminders after that, but laundry was Our Problem. Clothes you want to wear not clean? Too bad. Left your clothes in the dryer for more than ten or fifteen minutes after they were done and your brother tossed them on the floor? You should have taken them out.

    Mom also had one night a week where we could cook whatever we wanted for our own dinner, as long as the kitchen was clean afterward. You want cupcakes for dinner? No problem, just clean everything. Cereal because you don’t want to clean? Also ok.

  54. Regular commenter, but anon for this*

    Shout out to my fellow Iowa alums who can easily picture Burge as the location for every single one of these

  55. Frinkfrink*

    My experiences with RAs were all fairly boring, but my partner recalls friends who were hosting a kegger in their dorm room. They put the keg in a large box, scrawled “LAUNDRY” on the side and threw a few clothes on top in the World’s Least Convincing Disguise. As they were hauling the box up the stairs, with audible “thunks” on each step, the RA came upon them. He looked at the LAUNDRY box, nodded and said, “Kegger. Cool,” then continued on down the stairs. Nothing more was said.

  56. ArtsyGirl*

    I am late to the thread but wanted to submit the story of how a guy got expelled before the first day of school – I was not the RA but I was a witness to the events. I was about to start at a large state university back in 2004 and as one of the possible orientation activities you could have an overnight in a dorm room – this was in June or July. During the day you took placement tests, went on campus tours, learned how to schedule classes, degree requirements, etc. Well one guy apparently decided to skip the activities and proceeded to get stupid drunk (I think he either had a family member or friends who lived off campus because despite being voted the #1 party school in the nation it was a dry campus). Evening rolls around and drunk guy decided to go to bed but he could not get his key to work so broke the lock on the door and then threw up/passed out on the bed. Unfortunately it was not his room, it was the RA’s room which was next to mine. She walked in to find her room trashed and him snoring on her bed. They had to call EMTs to pump his stomach, his parents got called, and his college acceptance was rescinded the next day.

    1. Berkeleyfarm*

      That’s pretty impressive!

      I went to a large public university that offered what was called “Summer Advising” – long weekend in a dorm with programming. There was a track for parents as well. I learned to get around campus (mine was physically pretty big) and only saw my folks at meal times :-).

      (We did not have the big “orientation week” type thing back then with move-in and programming for parents etc. There is more of that now that the university charges a LOT more money and the admin wants to keep the parents sweet.)

  57. Erin*

    My gut says that litter box was totally left on purpose, especially if the resident wasn’t planning on returning to the dorm. Hiding an illicit cat, lying to my RA’s face about it, and leaving behind a litter box as a final middle finger was about where I was at mentally when I left the dorms for good!

    I wasn’t an RA, but what my co-op dorm called a floor manager – the person responsible for coordinating the cleaning schedule. We cleaned our own dorm in exchange for getting to live in single rooms for half of the price of a standard double, and it amounted to one chore per week per person. Vacuuming. Cleaning the haunted bathrooms. Kitchen duty. Easy peasy, right? Nope – that job was basically all of the annoying parts of being an RA with none of the benefits. I gave notice in February the last year I was there and canceled my housing contract for the following year. I would say I never envied the RAs at that school, but frankly, many of them quit mid-year, too.

  58. Very Social*

    He came back wasted and there was a skunk by the dumpsters and you guessed it. He started waving his coat at the skunk.

    I can honestly say that I would never have guessed that.

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