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Campus Pranksters Test the Limits of RA Rule Following

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by Freddie Branch
Freelance Writer

RA mediation training now has a component called "Tough Love Roommate Civility."
RA mediation training now has a component called “Tough Love Roommate Civility.”

Three students at Vanderbeek University face disciplinary action for the prank they pulled last month which involved altering official university documents and promoting violence.

According to the students their residence hall director Henrietta Harson arrived late for a meeting at which she was to reprimand the students for violating the dormitory’s quiet hours. The students say they observed that Harson’s office was open and they waited inside.

While in her office the students saw Harson’s draft of the latest version of the Residence Life Emergency Procedures Manual and they decided to insert “Punch the resident in the throat” to multiple parts of the document that outlines the steps Resident Assistants (RAs) are to take in any given situation. As an example, when discovering a forbidden item such as a toaster oven, rather than simply confiscate the toaster oven, RAs were now told to confiscate the item and then punch the offending resident in the throat.

Unfortunately, Harson did not catch the changes and sent the procedural manual out to the entire staff the next day. What started out as a prank, has resulted in 43 students being punched in the throat during routine stops on RA building rounds and confrontations for policy violations.

Todd Tamson, a third-year RA in James Hall, said about the sudden change in procedure, “It seemed very weird that we were now supposed to punch people in the throat. However it was in the manual and as RAs, we always follow procedures to a T.”

When reached for comment Claudette Longmore, Dean of Students for Vanderbeek University, issued the following statement “We regret that these students’ actions have led to violence against other students. At the same time, policy violations have plummeted since the new procedures have been in place. I have asked a 30-person investigation team to analyze the problem and make a recommendation about whether to keep the new policy as is.”