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Locked out between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.? RA's now won't be on-call to help

Chronicle File Photo
Chronicle File Photo

Locked out of your dorm? If it's between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m, you might be out of luck.

Starting the first week of classes, East, Central and West Campus resident assistants are no longer on call from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. This decision came about in response to common grievances brought up by past RA's.

“It was hard on the RA's who sometimes had to leave class or leave meetings and activities to respond to calls,” wrote Lisa Beth Bergene, associate dean of East Campus.

Bergene added that RA's receive few calls during that time frame—many of which are not urgent—and said RA's had commitments to other activities. Additionally, she wrote that this would provide "some relief" for dorms with fewer RA's. 

Many of the phone calls were for lockouts, which Bergene called "preventable."

“The goal is for people to take their keys & ID with them when they leave their room to cut down on the number of lock-out calls,” she wrote.

Residents most commonly call about lockouts because the Housing and Residence Life office closes at 5 p.m., sophomore RA Angel Huizar said.

Huizar added that he preferred the policy change. 

“It’s a great change," he said. "Last semester I had lots of classes, and by the time I got back to East, it was almost 9:00 p.m., and now this semester I have classes at 5:35 p.m. It works a lot better for RAs' schedules.”

He said he believes that RA's who have external commitments now have more opportunity and leeway. 

Some students have expressed concerns about the policy change.  

First-year Brynne O'Shea of Pegram called it "inconvenient." She shared an anecdote about one of her friends being locked out of his room in Pegram, where an RA was the only form of assistance readily available. 

“I actually didn’t know [the policy] was like that,” she said. 

Out of 15 first-year students The Chronicle spoke with, nine did not know about the RA policy change, and one contact poster in Alspaugh Residence Hall simply provided the “Temporary RA On-Call Number,” with no additional information for on-call hours. 

Nonetheless, students still have some support during these hours, one RA said. 

“If any of my residents ever need help and I’m on campus before 9 p.m., I’m willing to help them out,” sophomore RA Nimish Garg said.

Bergene wrote that students who are locked out would not be entirely out of options.

“If a student is locked out, the student should first call their roommate to be let in," Bergene wrote. "If the roommate is not available or if the student doesn't have a roommate, the student can find another RA in the building that can open the door. Otherwise, the student can wait until the RA comes on-call at nine." 

Students also have access to graduate residents, resident coordinators and Duke University Police Department during emergency situations. Additionally, exceptions for the policy change will still be made for move-in, move-out and other important events.