Resident Assistants (RAs) will not be able to attend Global Outreach (GO!) trips during the academic year, including spring and winter breaks. Justin Muzzi, assistant director of residential life for leadership, development and training, made the announcement during RA Spring training in mid-April.
The trips can interfere with their responsibilities closing residence halls before winter, spring and summer breaks, Muzzi said. Summer GO! trips, however, are allowed.
Resident assistants have traditionally been expected to remain on campus to perform health and safety inspections of rooms until mid-afternoon a day after the last day of classes before the break. Students who were chosen to participate in GO! trips in the past report having been allowed to leave up to a day early to participate in their trip.
Muzzi said that Residential Life is willing to speak with RAs who still wish to go on GO! trips during the academic year and RAs entering their senior year who have limited opportunities to go on GO! trips.
“If this is the one opportunity you have to do something, I want to try and work with you on it,” said Muzzi. “I think it is easier sometimes to make an exception to a rule then later on hold fast to a rule.”
“We asked them not to go on the ones that cause them to miss mandatory parts of the RA position,” said Muzzi.
Muzzi said that in the past, Residential Life made efforts to allow RAs to go on these trips.
“The tricky part is when you have 95 people who work for you and they all are expected to do very similar work, holding them accountable for that but also making sure there is fair treatment across the board can be difficult,” said Muzzi.
“There are certain things, like openings and closings, that we need RAs to be at,” he added
Paul Francis, director of Global Outreach, did not return a request for comment.
Kim Russell, assistant dean of students and director of residential life, also did not return request for comment.
Some RAs, both current and previous, find the new policy restricting.
“There are some GO! projects that only happen over spring break, and many students have other obligations over winter and summer breaks,” said Rachel Nass, FCRH ’15, who was an RA during her time at the university. “It is a great shame that the Office of Residential Life is not supporting RAs who want to explore social justice, and there is not enough flexibility and accommodation among each staff to allow RAs to have this experience.”
Elaina Weber, FCRH ’16, both was an RA and participated in GO! trips during her time at Fordham. She said the organizations had complementary traits.
“Some of the best GO! leaders in the past have also been RAs, because both positions require and build transferable skills in programming, community building, authentic mentorship and living out Jesuit ideals,” said Weber. “Likewise, some of my most involved and reflective teammates have gone on to be fantastic RAs, participating in GO! for the entirety of their RA careers. I hope the two parties can continue their partnership of changing lives for the better together.”
Other students were worried that the quality of RA staff would decrease as a result of the change.
“I hope Residential Life reconsiders their decision, perhaps in favor of considering these GO! requests on a case by case basis. ” said Alexandra Marshall, GSB ’16. Marshall went on a GO! El Salvador trip as a returning senior RA. “If the decision stands and students are forced to choose between the two, I worry that it will ultimately lower the quality of our staff as a whole, and that would be a terrible disservice to our community.”
Marshall appreciated Residential Life’s approval in allowing her to go on her GO! trip, as well GO!’s support of her RA responsibilities.
“That trip proved to be one of my most cherished and impactful Fordham experiences, and I’m very grateful that Residential Life supported my decision,” said Marshall. “While both being on a GO! team and being an RA are time-intensive commitments, I found that GO! supported my RA responsibilities. GO! provided me another support system, opportunity to learn, and a chance to develop my leadership and interpersonal skills.”
Ellysa Smith, FCRH ’15, an RA during her time at Fordham, said that the decision impacted those who relied financially on the free room and board given to RA’s.
“Clearly the ramification, whether intentional or not, is that the pool of applicants applying to GO! will cease to be as diverse as it once was; limiting those applying to those who could afford housing,” said Smith.
Muzzi said he was not sure of the opinion of RAs.
“I think it initially came as a shock,” said Muzzi. “I think some of those initial feelings were probably shared with those RA’s resident directors.”
Muzzi said that, while a few people who may have considered applying to an RA position but will no longer due to the new rule, it will most likely not be a major deterrent in RA recruitment.
“I think losing those people is unfortunate,” said Muzzi. “I think that there are enough people who, for a variety of reasons, who want to be RAs. I’m hoping it doesn’t hurt us too much and I don’t see it hurting us too much.”