The first year is always a bit of learning curve. It gives students the time to live out all of their immature, non-educational college fantasies before they realize that it is all fun and games until something gets broken, which could be a lamp, a limb, or your mind - all of which can add to the pain of tuition bills.
Yet, the victims of this debauchery who deserve the most sympathy are the dorm's resident advisors. Having to juggle the responsibility of acing midterms with wrangling morons leads to some stressful, yet amusing, or even very dark, stories. The following resident advisors were willing to share their experiences with the unpredictable chaos that is the freshman class.
“Best Two Years Of My Life”
“I used to catch people playing ‘Possum’ all the time. Basically, a bunch of students would climb a tree and drink until they started falling out. Last person in the tree wins.
I found a couple of idiots having ‘lightsaber fights’ once. They had unscrewed fluorescent tubes and were having sword fights with them.
One time, a whole floor got scabies and were running back and forth from the laundry room, washing every single item of clothing and linen they had.
One resident was hiding a homeless person in the TV room. Residents were welcome to have friends on site and they were also welcome to stay in the TV room and the recreational center after lockup. They just had to pull the door closed after themselves when they left. This guy was staying in the TV room with his homeless friend until the RAs finished their rounds, locking him in the TV room, going back to sleep in his own room, and then waking up early to go back to the TV room before the RAs came around in the morning, unlocking everything again.
I woke up around midnight one night because people were firing Roman candles at one of the buildings. We were having problems with some local kids who kept playing pranks on the residents. Naturally, I assumed it was them. I called campus security to deal with it and they ended up rounding up my own residents. After I gave them all write-ups, one of them asked me why I didn’t tell them beforehand that they were not allowed to set fireworks off on campus.
This did not happen in my hall, but was still pretty memorable: the RAs from one of the other residences on campus came to us with one of their problems. They kept finding human feces outside one of their buildings and assumed it was one of our residents playing pranks on them, which was completely reasonable – we had a weird group that year. I told him that I would keep an ear out. When it kept happening, one of their RAs had a stakeout and saw the feces being dropped out of one of the windows. It turned out that this resident was setting toilet paper down on his bedroom floor, crapping on it, and dropping it out the window because he didn’t want to use the hall’s bathrooms.
On the final night in the halls, I found a room of people each pouring out drinks directly into the carpet for their friends who had left college before the semester finished.
Best two years of my life.”
“There’s People Making Love In My Bed”
“I am an RA and campus EMS. I have had many encounters with inebriated/high/etc freshmen, but I have a couple I will never forget.
One of them was during my first year as an RA living on the fourth floor of my building. I woke up to knocking on my door at around 3 am coupled with the screaming of, ‘There’s people making love in my bed!’
Alright, I guess I better not ignore this one.
I headed out and saw this freshman who reeked of drinks stumbling toward his room. Plot twist: he did not live there. The two students in the room, half-clothed, opened the door.
I saw him off and went back to bed to be woken up again 15 minutes later by more knocking. Guess who was back?
In one hand, he had a water bottle and in the other, he had a trimmer. I am 6’4″ and he was pretty tiny, so it did not end well when he tried to shave my beard. I ended up tossing him back in his room, onto his bed, and finally got to go to bed.”
Something Stinky This Way Comes
“I have a bunch of stories, but the one that tops the list was ‘The Smell.’ The time I was almost stabbed, the multi-floor soap fight, the common room blow-up doll on tour day, the time a student almost stabbed three people, the possible study room distillery, the hallway threesome my coworker ran into, the used rubber board – none of it was ever as bad as ‘The Smell.’
I was an RA in a fairly quiet building. We had a few troublemakers but, generally, it was quiet and calm and it was decently clean, for a crusty old residence building. Except for the Third Floor. The Third Floor… smelled. About a month in, it developed the weird, sickly sweet reek of rot that would permeate it for the rest of the year. Rot, with hints of… something else… underneath. After a week, we realized it probably was not any of the usual issues, such as a chicken dinner left sitting in a study room. After two weeks, we got tired of waiting. We spent a while trying to figure out the source, sniffing around, keying into rooms. Finally, we tracked it to a single room in the corner.
We put in a work order. Finally, maintenance came, went through the radiator, and ended up finding a rat skeleton. It had been in there so long that it was mostly decayed, hence the stench. So, issue resolved… right?
Unfortunately, not. The smell simply… grew. It deepened, grew richer – an oddly musky odor of putrescence filling the floor. Students complained and we said that we couldn’t do anything. But, we tried. We looked around, checked the floor. Checked common rooms. As the stench grew, we began to try keying into rooms, to see if we could find it. By now, duty rounds of three were sprints to check for problems, rather than friendly check-ins.
Eventually, in our search, we went back to that corner room and we keyed in. Until the day I die, I will never forget the scent. It forced its way past clenched lips and held breath straight to my tongue, where the iron tang of blood mingled with the rot. One RA stumbled away, gagging.
There it was. The source. Sitting on the radiator, in the window, mid-winter with the sun full on it and the radiator going full blast beneath it, was a mason jar. Inside the jar was five months worth of used tampons.
In the aftermath, we requested that the student clean them, time and again, since we could not touch the bio-hazard. We tried to explain that it was not sanitary. She did not remove them. She also, at various times, complained about the smell on the floor, apparently not realizing that she was the cause.”
An Unforgettable First Weekend
“I was an RA for freshmen last year. I was on duty the first weekend of the semester when all heck broke loose.
To start the night, a group of freshmen got stuck in the elevator. I do not know how it happened, but I got a call that there were 12 freshmen screaming and panicking in the elevator. I calmed them down and called Public Safety, who then called the fire department. About 20 minutes later, I got a call saying that some girl had thrown up in the middle of the lobby. Kids were still in the elevator and, on top of that, a bunch of freshmen were going out so they passed the lobby causing a huge commotion.
It turned out that the girl who had thrown up was still there. My supervisor and I had to bring her away from the crowd and closer to the office where we tried to talk to her and check with how she was feeling. As we brought her over, the senior desk attendant, Joe, kept yelling in the background, ‘THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T GIVE DRINKS TO GIRLS! THEY CAN’T HANDLE IT!’ over and over again.
‘OK! I GET IT JOE!’ the girl yelled back, and sat down with us while my supervisor went to deal with the desk attendant. The girl’s roommate had come down to help her into the office and after sitting down, I started to get some basic information. I asked the girl who had thrown up and what her name was.
‘Allison,’ she said.
‘Last name?’ I asked. She said the last name and I jotted it down.
‘Wait,’ said her roommate, who was sitting next to her, ‘that’s my name…”
So this inebriated girl used her roommate’s name so that she would get in trouble instead of her. As I quickly went to the supervisor to get details on a transport to the hospital for her, I left my duty partner to watch them. I come back 30 seconds later and she had thrown up again. In the RA office.
Suddenly, firefighters showed up. I was moving around everywhere. They went to get the freshmen out of the building and as if things couldn’t get worse, the fire alarm started ringing as soon as they made their way through. Turns out someone had toasted something and burned it, triggering the alarm. I couldn’t believe it. We had to evacuate everyone in the building and while we were outside, the girl who vomited had to get into the ambulance as the entire freshmen class watched her rock all over the place slurring her words as she laughed with her roommate. Her roommate ended up going to the hospital with her; the ambulance left and the kids in the elevator were let out. The fire alarm stopped after firefighters found somebody’s burnt pizza on the tenth floor.
It was a night.
To top it all off, housekeeping didn’t come to clean the vomit in the RA office until the next morning. By that time, the sun had already made the entire room smell absolutely TERRIBLE. It lasted the entire week.”
An RA Never Leaves A Resident Behind
“I have a really memorable RA experience from Purdue in the late 1990s.
There was a freshman who had a father who was super hard on him. One night, I came back to the dorm and he was in the hall with a bottle of Jack, just hammered. Purdue dorms are dry, but I told him just get rid of it and go to bed. Five minutes later, he walked to my room with the bottle. I told him I had to write this up (I never wrote people up). Then, he just broke down – snot tears breakdown.
He was planning to kill himself that night, so I spent the next two hours talking to him and convinced him to see someone professional the next morning. He passed out in my room. In the morning, he called a real professional and began therapy.
I didn’t write him up for drinking.”
The Girl With Fire In Her Eyes
“There was an EDM concert happening at Red Rocks, this outdoor amphitheater in Denver. I knew all kinds of people who were going. Obviously, there would be a lot of chemical entertainment complementing the magical MacBook space bar musicians and their killer lasers.
I was pulling a 1-7 am shift at the front desk of the dorm that night. It was a Friday, so even before the concert ended, I was graced with countless inebriated 18-year-olds trying their hardest to act sober as they bobbled to the elevator. It was always a good time. I never really cared about anybody who was not passed out or just annoyingly loud. I just did homework and occasionally called an ambulance.
Eventually, rave girls and neon bros started filtering through the doors. Most didn’t act wasted, but just stared, wide-eyed, straightforward and walked like painful constipation was kicking in. The wave died down after maybe twenty minutes. My shift got pretty quiet.
Then, she came. The girl I can not stop thinking about. She was moderately rotund, though her apparel was that of a malnourished Taiwanese lady of the streets who just finished a color run. Her eyes were glazed like the doughnuts of her soon to be state-sponsored babysitters. Her walk was haphazard, quick, and clearly on manual. She had hair cemented to her now melting mask of makeup and lipstick smeared over her gaping maw. Hers was a night of intense rhythmic jostling and mystery substance inhaling. I did not know her, but in that moment, I felt as if I had experienced this trip with her – not a great trip, I must say.
She stared at me for a moment. A slight panic in her eye as an authority was spotted and some part of her knew that she did not look in normal sorts. But, she powered on with determination and entered the elevator quite self-assured I was none the wiser to her predicament. I could see her face as she stood in the box that relieved her so often from the stairs. She was proud and had made it home. No one had to know what debauchery she had gotten up to. The doors began closing and she smirked.
She had not pushed a button. The elevator did not in fact elevate, it waited with the patience only a machine can afford us. I wonder what her experience in there was like. Was she aware how long it was before the doors opened?
I was rather entertained and watched closely, waiting for her to realize her oversight and choose her floor, or just a floor. But she didn’t, some time passed. Eventually, some other young delinquents of the night came through the lobby. They headed for the elevator that concealed this magnificent woman. Upon requesting a lift, the already present elevator sprung open its doors, from which the now frustrated girl emerged with a little less fire in her eyes. The others parted so she could exit, and she certainly tried.
Upon dragging her shoes to escape her preposterously long lift ride, she caught a toe in the crack. Never has a human fallen with less grace. It was a live reenactment of Patrick from The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie. Her entire weight followed her down onto her face and belly. Not a hand, nor elbow, nor knee thrust forward to catch her. An audible whomp filled the lobby, a red spurt flew from her face in a rather Tarantino-esque display of bodily fluids. I could not help but laugh. The others jumped. One gave out a little yelp, but in fear of being caught wasted, they shuffled into the elevator. They managed to push a button, so it left.
She, of course, stayed. Planted on the ground, arms at her side, like she was ‘planking’ for internet fame. Not a sound either, no grunts of pain. It was rather surreal. I felt like I had just watched a Three Stooges bit. Eventually, I realized I was the one with a job to do, and the spectacle would have to wait till someone saw to her.
I called the other RA on duty and I went over to get her off the floor. Her nose was bleeding pretty well. I managed to haul her into a nice chair near the elevator. Her consciousness had left with the lift. The other RA came pajama-clad. We called for an ambulance and then just stared at this now asleep mess of a human. Not a word was shared, but I felt a deep connection with that her, both half asleep, trying to do right for a heavily dazed and confused college girl.
When the EMTs arrived, they had quite a few questions, some of which I could answer. Some policemen arrived shortly after. They asked me about what had happened and laughed with me as I regaled her short, but exciting adventure in my lobby. She did awaken and was rather mad at all of us, though her words were not doing a great job of communicating why. To my knowledge, she was taken to a nice, clean room to sober up.
I always remembered her. I always recognized her as she walked through my lobby the rest of the year. Though, I am quite certain she did not recognize me. To her, I was just some RA. But to me, she was the pinnacle of college experimentation, a reminder of appreciating those who accompany my inebriated wreck of a self, and a reminder of how funny life tends to be from the third person.”
Some Freshmen Just Can’t Take The Heat
“One time, three of my residents were in the elevator and two of them decided to jump and set off the sensors. They were trapped. I was on duty, so I had to deal with it. I did not know what to do so I called the hall director on duty, who called the repairman. The repairman said he would be there in an hour, so I had to be there waiting, keeping an eye on the situation.
Myself and some friends of the people stuck grabbed lawn chairs, snacks, and filled our yeti cups to tailgate the event. When the hall director on duty showed up, she saw we had it handled and were enjoying ourselves, so she joined the fun and started singing, ‘Hello from the other side,’ to the kids in the elevator.
Another memorable event was one night when a couple of my residents bought ghost peppers to try and see who could handle the heat.
One kid, who was Thai, said, ‘My food is way spicier than this.’ He ate one whole and started another once the heat set in. We had ranch and tortillas ready for people to eat to cool down. After everyone was done eating, myself included, we were just hanging out in the lounge. The kid who had been cutting up the peppers went to bed before us. His room was right next to the lounge.
About five minutes after he went to bed, we heard him screaming. Apparently, he did not wash his hands and had started pleasuring himself. He was in a lot of pain, so we threw him a bottle of ranch and left the room so he could apply it to his area. Then, the rest of us washed our hands very thoroughly.”
Support Your Residents When No One Else Will
“This is not one of the crazy stories about wasted freshmen. It is quite sad, but it is definitely the most memorable.
I was an RA for the first year students. I got a text from a fellow RA asking if we could talk about one of my residents. I found out that said resident had told their parents that they were transitioning and the parents did not take it very well. In a matter of days, the parents forced them to remove their names from all of the residents’ documents (financial aid, guardians, emergency contact, etc). They disowned my resident and were sending them really aggressive messages that were really mean.
I talked with the resident. They were incredibly sweet. We talked about their options and decided it was best for them to move out as they did not feel safe with their parents knowing where they lived. I helped them push through the process and they were out within a few hours. They moved into a gender inclusive dorm. I was glad to see my resident a little more relaxed and I believed the entire situation was over.
Two days later, I received a knock on my door. It woke me up, as it was Sunday morning, and I opened the door to see a man and a woman in their 40s. They mentioned they were my resident’s parents and that they wanted to know where their ‘son’ was. I asked them to enter my room as I did not want to make a scene in the middle of the floor. They attempted to be sweet and claimed they just wanted make sure they were OK.
I proceeded to tell them they were currently trespassing on government property and if they did not leave within the next few seconds, I would call the police to have them walked out. They tried to argue but I restated what I said sternly. They understood I was not playing around. As they left, their true intention came out.
‘Make sure to tell [Resident] we came to get his brother’s iPhone from him,’ the father said in a really rude and harsh tone. ‘It doesn’t belong to him.’
I was shocked. Safe to say, I never told the resident their parents came for a visit.
I see them around campus and they seem a lot happier now. They are incredibly strong and handled the situation better than I could have imagined.”
Something Smells Like Guilt
“One Friday night, most of my hall was drinking and preparing to go out. I was quite chill with it all as long as nobody did stupid things or got the police called.
I was alerted that the police were being sent up to my floor on the other side because of a report that a kid had passed out in the bathroom. I told a couple rooms on my side to close their doors and turn the music off as a precaution. They did.
Except for two guys, Paul and Nick. They decided to go grab a big trashcan and wheel it into their room. Of course, just as they entered the room, the police officers got off the elevator and witnessed it. They immediately assumed that whoever had passed out was taken into their room and the trashcan was because puke was going on. My room was right across from them, so I got to witness what happened next.
The cops knocked on the door and sidestepped the peephole. After a tense few seconds, the residents opened the door. The cops stepped in and ask what was going on. By that time, I had stepped out to see what was going on.
Paul said that they were just planning to do some spring cleaning. The cops were suspicious. They surveyed the room.
‘Man, you guys need to do some laundry,’ one cop said. ‘It stinks in here.’ They laughed and said they did not smell anything. The cops didn’t look amused and said to have a good night. They left.
I was chatting with Paul and Nick and they were practically shaking, they were so nervous. I asked why they were so jittery and Nick pointed to a solo cup on a shelf full of an adult beverage. Paul opened his cabinet and there were (I am not kidding) 200-plus empty Four Loko cans. I stood there with my mouth open asking them why. He said they were planning to build a pyramid, but decided to scratch that idea. They proceeded to smash all the cans and hide them at the bottom of the trashcan.
Their stinky clothes saved them from getting kicked out of school. I sometimes wonder how Paul and Nick are doing.”
They Never Thought “Kid Pious” Had It In Him
“After four years as student security and three as an RA, I had a lot of memorable moments, but I’ll share one of the more innocent ones.
The setting was a tiny private Catholic college in rural Indiana during freshmen week. The only people on campus were the RAs, Freshman Leaders (upperclassmen who are introducing freshmen to the campus), and the freshmen. We had the usual dorm meeting in which the other RAs and I explained the rules of the dorms. Being a Catholic school, one of the rules was ‘No members of the opposite gender in the dorm after Quiet Hours start (except in one or two specific lounges per dorm).’ It wasn’t a rule that any of the RA’s were harassed about, but we were obligated to list it as a rule because our supervisors and campus security did enforce it.
That night, I went out to a bar with a friend who was celebrating her 21st birthday. Her boyfriend and roommate both drove in from an hour or two away to help celebrate. A couple hours into the evening, the roommate and boyfriend realized they were both planning to spend the night in birthday girl’s room. Neither were comfortable with both of them staying there. Being a bro, I tell the roommate she could stay in my room and I would crash on the couch I had.
The next morning, bright and early, I walked the roommate to the door of my dorm. To do so, I had to walk by the lounge. One of my freshmen was sitting there. This kid had been on campus three or four days at this point and he had already gotten the nickname ‘Kid Pious’ due to wearing exclusively shirts from his church and church camps. He and I made eye contact. He shifted his eyes to the girl walking out of my dorm room at 7 am.
‘You saw nothing,’ I said.
‘Absolutely nothing,’ he said. We went about our days.
Even several years later, after I graduated, he became an RA, and then he graduated, we would see each other at various events on campus as we came back. He would smile, say, ‘I still saw nothing,’ and we would both nod knowingly.”