An Erickson RA speaks out
About a month ago, Kaley Sievert from The Concordian stopped by my room in Erickson Hall and asked if I could answer some questions regarding dorm stereotypes. I agreed with no delay, invited her to take a seat, and divulged all of my opinions and beliefs on this topic that largely is not talked about here at Concordia. This brought me to a realization: dorm stereotyping is a legitimate issue and should warrant a campus-wide dialogue to help eliminate common misconceptions.
Part of the interview consisted of me discussing my transition from a resident in Livedalen to a Resident Assistant in Erickson. I fully admitted that I bought into the stereotypes that characterize Erickson and ‘East’ complex – that it is a rowdy, unruly environment where everyone is loud and gets extremely drunk all the time. My only standard of comparison with these stereotypes was my home in Livedalen, where all of us residents were civilized, studious individuals who appreciated the quiet, laid-back appeal of our residence hall.
When I received my Resident Assistant letter, I first – crossed my fingers that I would be assigned to Livedalen, and secondly – prayed that I would not be moving over to East. I opened the letter and was joyed to read “Congratulations!” while subsequently my heart sank when I read “Erickson Hall.” I was torn on the inside, but reassured myself that this would be a great opportunity for me and that I would take the position regardless.
To say being a Resident Assistant in Erickson is a great opportunity is simply an understatement that cannot tell the full story. I have loved my time over here in Erickson and have witnessed these dorm stereotypes shatter like glass. Erickson is not the typical “Animal House” it is painted out to be. It is a place of vibrant energy, which is easily misconstrued as noisiness or rowdiness. The drinking and violation breaking is blown out of proportion, as if it happens every other day. Above all else, the residents of Erickson are truly good people. The most harmful thing about these stereotypes is that it dehumanizes the residents that live in these dorms and unfairly generalizes them based on distorted opinions and hearsay.
We need to recognize that dorm stereotypes are detrimental to creating a cohesive, tight-knit community on campus. Stereotypes prevented me from even venturing over to other side of campus my freshman year, because I assumed that belligerent drunkenness would be the only thing I would find. Now that I have actually lived here for a semester, I have met some incredible individuals that have allowed me to dismiss the stereotypes.
In the interview, I was asked what could be done to eliminate these stereotypes. I considered the question for a while, and started to think that maybe these stereotypes could never go away. Then a light bulb went on. I answered the question by saying we need to start a cross-campus dialogue on dorm stereotypes to break down these social barriers. These stereotypes are typically created and reinforced by students who do not actually live in the stereotyped dorm. To allow individuals from these different dorms to have their voices heard in an open forum could allow us to make massive strides in uniting the campus. Introducing this as early as Orientation week could help educate Concordia students that we are more than our dorm stereotype. Regardless of where we live on campus, we are all Cobbers of this esteemed institution.
This article was submitted by Joey Ness, contributing writer.