Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Different Place to Rest My Hat...

Today was hall staff placement letter day. That meant one of two things.

If you were a new hopeful, longing to be a resident assistant, you would either get an letter congratulating you on your acceptance as well as telling you where you'd be placed, an letter telling you that you were an alternate who might be chosen in someone else refuses to accept a position, or "the thin envelope," thanking you for your interest but informing you that "there's no room for you at this time. Maybe next year!"

I had already gone through the trials and tribulations of that last year (I was an alternate, in case you were wondering), but I already knew that I was coming back. No, for the returning hall staff member, the only question is where.

There are more returning staff members from Clark Kerr Campus than from any other unit (a tribute to the awesomeness of our people). So many, in fact, that we were told that we would not necessarily be getting our first choice (which was, for most people, Clark Kerr). The question was, who would "those people" who didn't get there be?

As I woke up (I actually slept through my alarm again, so I missed my Economics lecture and section. Whoops!) I was fairly confident that I would be placed in Clark Kerr. Why wouldn't I be? I know the place better than almost anyone. I've been here for two years. My old roommate Kris and I wrote the Wikipedia article on Clark Kerr. (It's been edited a bit since, but we still kicked it off.) I made my own Clark Kerr t-shirts. I'm "Mr. Clark Kerr (Campus)". Of course I'll be returning.

As I was walking to the Residential Student Services Building, however, I started thinking about it. Is that really a good enough reason to warrant my cockiness? The more I walked, the more unsure I became, and, to tell the truth, the more worried I became. What if I didn't get back to Clark Kerr? Where would I go? What would I do? Would anybody, frankly, give a damn?

So, I make it to the RSSB and go up to the third floor, where a stack of envelopes sit in a little cardboard box. I find mine (thick - no surprise there) and find a seat, as I'm going to need to sign the agreement anyway. I open it up and look. Here is how the letter began:

"Dear Andrew,
Congratulations! I am pleased to offer you a Resident Assistant position at Unit 2 for the 2007-2008 academic year. On behalf of the Office of Student Development, I would like to extend our sincerest congratulations and warmest welcome to you as part of next year's staff."

This, however, is what I read.

"Dear Andrew,
Unit 2."

Before I could stop myself, I was hanging my head. This felt like a huge blow. While I realize that using emoticons is forbidden in the class, I feel that I must break the rules as a necessity, because my feeling at the time can be best expressed in only one way.


However, one of the many, many gifts that I've received from my drama career is the oft-used phrase: "The show must go on." That statement may sound cliché, but it has helped me through some pretty tough times. Whatever life throws at you, you have to proceed. No regrets. If you regret, you regress. No. I won't regress. Progress is the way for me. I can do anything anywhere. I am not beaten. Never beaten.

I signed the agreement and left, though I will admit I still was a bit disheartened. I mean, I love Clark Kerr Campus, and probably have more loyalty to it that many people do to their particular dorm. Whenever I would go to my home in Southern California, I would become homesick for Clark Kerr. So permit me a few hours of feeling sorry for myself before I pull up my proverbial pants and get on with my life.

After getting into a fun debate in my class on Alexander the Great, my dour mood began to lift. In fact, by the time I made it back to CKC, I had made peace with the fact that I wouldn't be in my beloved home. As it turns out, I would not be alone. At least two other members from my staff were at Unit 2 with me. (I think one of our old bosses, who moved over to Unit 2, had something to do with it.) I can assure you, comparatively, I'm taking this whole thing in stride. There are some less-than-happy campers in hall staff today (and I'm sure that's true across the system).

As luck would have it, I had a one-on-one meeting with my Resident Director (he's my boss, for those unfamiliar with hall staff terminology) scheduled for tonight. The discussion mainly centered around the placement. I was honest with him; there was nothing to hide, and nothing to gain from hiding. I was understandably a bit perturbed, but that wasn't going to stop me. He explained to me that one of the reasons I was chosen for Unit 2 was due to the fact that 1) they usually had priority due to their high volume of residents and 2) they needed some strong returners to fill the empty seats.

I think one person who may be hit pretty hard by this is, funnily enough, my mother. When we first arrived at Berkeley, what seems to be a lifetime ago, we helped a friend move into Unit 2. Our first impression of the place was that it was a combination of a beehive and a prison; a poured-concrete honeycomb, if you will, with small, sterile rooms packed together. She would always tell me, "Thank goodness you didn't get into one of those tiny concrete rooms."

Well, Ma, now I did.

It'll be all right. This isn't bad, it's just a change. Like I said, I've persevered through more dramatic changes than this. New experiences, new things to see. Like always, I'll survive. I'll survive and I'll progress.

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