RA email scandal in Converse

What began as a public service announcement quickly became a dorm-wide email chain when a residence adviser hit reply-all to an email.

Converse residents were asked to stop propping open swipe-operated doors, citing security concerns in an email sent by Jacqueline Cid, the assistant residence director of Converse Hall, at 7:45 p.m. Nov. 2.

The RA who replied, sophomore Mikayla Varunok, asked about the logistics for documenting a resident who was playing music. Her email was sent to every resident in the building.

“It was about a student making a lot of noise and I was writing him up and I was emailing my boss about what documents I should use to write him up and I accidentally CC’d the entire building,” Varunok said.

[/media-credit] The third floor of Converse Hall is pictured Nov. 9. A public service announcement resulted in a complex-wide email chain where students could communicate in an online forum. RYAN THORNTON/ The Vermont Cynic
“We all received the e-mail, and from there the whole complex exploded [on the chain],” sophomore Luke Faulkner said.

After a follow-up email asking the residents to “please disregard the last email,” some residents responded with emails regarding their experience in the hall.

“At first it was just a lot of my residents responding and joking,” said Varunok. “It was all fun and fine and then one resident started complaining and saying that Converse was a jail cell and that the RAs are like prison guards.”

Once residents started sending complaints about the hall, Varunok said she sent out an email encouraging residents to reach out to their RAs if they have any concerns.

“I told everyone I wanted to have a community meeting the next day,” Varunok said. “I told everyone I live here too and I have the same frustration.”

She said she attempted to get as much information as possible regarding the concerns of the residents such as when the parking lot next to Converse will re-open.

As a result of Varunok’s reply, residents of Converse began a 40 message long email chain:

Nov. 2, 9:23 p.m. “You CC’d the entire building. Rookie mistake. Perhaps bad karma for getting in the way of poor Mason’s glorious musical vibes.”

Nov. 2, 11:50 p.m. “Can we get back to the real issues at hand? Who’s propping the god damn door open?!”

Nov. 3, 2:32 p.m. “If the card reader could read the card every time I swiped rather than trying to swipe…5+ times…I probably wouldn’t complain too much but the propped door is more of a convenience than a liability at this point.”

Nov. 3, 2:38 p.m. “I petition for new card readers, less black mold in our showers and less centipedes crawling around (especially in my room)!!!! $45,000 a year for bugs in my room at night! Not cool UVM!”

Nov. 3, 9:57 p.m. “The construction is taking over the few spots we have left, we all got deceived by the university when we bought our parking passes”

The student reception of the emails varied.

Third floor resident Lydia Marchese observes that while there are benefits to“having an online space where you can vent your feelings,” the nature of the forum means “[one] can often hyperbolize them because they feel like they can let more out.”

Nov. 3, 2:53 p.m. “Converse is worse than a jail cell, the rooms are smaller than a cell, I can’t sleep cause the pipes sound like they are going to blow up at night. I can hear people walking around 3 floors above me. Not to mention the cage of construction basically surrounding converse. We shouldn’t have R.A.’s that act like prison guards because it’s making it a little too real.”

Marchese, a sophomore, went on to say that even though some people took it too far, the “emails were definitely productive” — a formal meeting was scheduled to address residents’ concerns, which likely would not have happened had the public channel of communication remained closed.

Faulkner said that he felt the RAs were attacked during this chain.

“People harassed the RAs about them ‘not doing their jobs,’ [during the email chain] but in reality they are trying their best and attempting to be college students too,” he said.