UW System: will examine resident assistant roles and activities

Contact: Kate Dixon

(608) 265-3195

MADISON ― University of Wisconsin System President Kevin P. Reilly today announced the
formation of a committee of campus student-life experts who will help develop systemwide policies to
guide activities of resident assistants (RAs) on UW campuses.

Concerns have been raised in recent weeks about the constitutionality and communication of
practices that preclude university RAs from leading, organizing, or recruiting students for certain activities
in residence halls where they live and work.
“These are complex and serious questions, and I want UW policies in this regard to be consistent
and appropriate in every way,” Reilly said. “I trust these experts will move quickly in helping us ensure
UW policies meet constitutional requirements, and at the same time, advance education and opportunities
for students who participate in residence life.”
Reilly has asked UW chancellors to nominate members for the advisory committee, which will lead
a systemwide review and clarification of university practices regarding RAs, sometimes known as house
fellows. During the course of the review, Reilly has asked UW campuses to enforce policies and practices
in this area only if complaints about specific conduct by RAs are received and found to be valid. His
actions follow the notice that the Wisconsin Attorney General will not fulfill his request for an opinion that
would offer guidance about relevant constitutional issues.

According to Reilly, the advisory committee of individuals with substantial expertise in residence
life and student services will examine RA roles in residence life programs, the relationship of RA activities
to wider student educational experiences, and the expectations of RAs as university employees.

Committee members will be asked to consider the degree of influence RAs have within residence halls, the
extent of RA responsibility for providing a supportive and inclusive environment for students who live in
residence halls, and the personal interests of RAs in being engaged and active participants in campus life.

Chancellors will name their representative to the committee by Dec. 9. Reilly will ask the advisory
committee to forward recommendations for future resident assistant policies by Jan. 9, 2006.