The Cavalier Daily
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The Girl Next Door

"Charlotte doesn't like us walking through the halls in our underwear," first-year College student Phillip Whipple said. "But we still leave our doors open."

Many things will be different for first-year guys in Kent dorm this year. They have a new woman in their lives: She's their RA.

"I thought she [Cara] was just one of the [Greeters] who kept using our bathroom constantly on Move-In Day," first-year College student Craig Kemper said of the woman he later learned was his RA.

This year, the age-old rivalry between New Dorms and Old Dorms is overshadowed by talk about the girl living next door.

This year, three female RAs - second-year College students Charlotte Hudgins and Cara Coolbaugh and third-year College student Miya Hunter - will be in charge of halls of male residents.

Life in University residence halls has been changed. And it's all thanks to a statistical glitch.

"There was a mixup with the number of students" admitted to the University, said fourth-year College student and co-chairwoman of Residence Life Sarah Chewning.

According to Chewning, the Admissions Office typically selects a class composed of 60 percent females and 40 percent males. The residence life department selected RAs in the spring, anticipating that the ratio of females to males would remain three to two.

"We made [resident] staff selections based upon the composition of the typical first-year class," Chewning said.

This year, however, the percentages of male and 54 percent female, according to Ida L. Wootten of University relations.

Because the number of males admitted was nearly equal to females, residence life found they had under-anticipated the number of males who would enroll. They had no alternative but to assign three female RAs to male halls.

"It was weird for the first half hour, but once I accepted it, everything was alright," first-year Engineering student Grahame Burke said.

In two of the McCormick Road houses, Kent and Humphreys, the second floor, which has traditionally been female, is now male.

In fact, the bathroom signs on those floors still read WOMEN in bold letters.

"I remember when I first came in and saw 'Cara' written on the RA door. Then there was a Women's sign on the bathroom door. I figured I had to be on the entirely wrong hall," first-year College student Paul Crane said. Crane lives on the second floor of Kent and is one of Cara Coolbaugh's residents.

Hudgins, who was notified over the summer that she would supervise males in the first-right hall of Kent, said she was a little taken back by the news.

"I was surprised and excited about the challenge -- I figured that being an RA would be challenging anyway," she said.

While somewhat nonplussed by the experience at first, Hudgins said she is pleased with her residents so far.

"These guys are pretty cool and I enjoy them," she said.

And the residents, for the most part, agree.

"Cara's like one of the boys," first- year Engineering student Rafael Defaria said.

Crane agreed. "I think she could kick all our butts, she's pretty buff," he said. "So is her boyfriend. He'd be there to back her up if things got out of hand."

Defaria admitted that even though it can be easier to relate to guys at times, he can get good tips about girls from his female RA.

"I had two sisters growing up, so it's nothing new," Kemper said of living with Coolbaugh.

Hudgins has also scheduled activities for her residents focusing on male issues in an effort to connect with her hallmates of the opposite sex.

She has scheduled a visit with One in Four, a peer education group of male University students who work with men to educate them about sexual assault, notably rape.

"I'm providing information from Student Health [on] general men's health," Hudgins said.

Hudgins also described the experience as a chance to learn what guys act like behind closed doors.

"I've always lived with girls, so it's been interesting to see what it is that guys like to do," she said.

While sexual harassment seems like a remote issue to Hudgins at this time, she said she is prepared to deal with anything.

"I'm a very strong individual, and I think that I can nip anything in the bud," she said.

While Hudgins feels confident about performing the duties outlined by the residence life program, she may have difficulty with the more intangible aspects of her position, like forming a strong bond with her male residents.

"There are three [aspects] in being an RA: being an agent of the University, to be a resource [for first-years], and to be a friend," said fourth-year College student and former RA Steven Shepherd.

Both the first roles, he said, could be accomplished well by either gender.

"But for the third part, I'd be a little concerned that I couldn't form friendships as well" with members of the opposite sex, Shepherd added.

So far, though, the situation seems to be working out well for all parties involved.


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