December 05, 2016
What started as a practical joke between friends in the dorms escalated to a sexual harassment and class protection case, ending in the termination of sophomore Taylor Comroe’s employment, who was a first-time resident assistant of Vail House.
In early September, a student living in the Vail dorms showed Comroe a picture of a practical joke his roommates played on him. Comroe, a sports management major, was not willing to name the students involved in the case.
According to Comroe, the picture showed “inappropriate symbols” drawn on this student’s face, which had been drawn by his roommates after he fell asleep in his dorm.
The student who reported the incident and photo acknowledged the prank was made in good fun, and at the time, this student had strong relations with his roommates, according to Comroe.
Comroe, who was terminated from his position on Oct. 25, said that the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) did not hold the two roommates in this situation at fault or considered to be in violation of any policies that he was aware of.
“I monitored the floor on a consistent basis, and when the victim came to me he wasn’t looking for me to take disciplinary action on his roommates. He just wanted me to know about this in case something like this happened again in the future,” said Comroe.
Comroe met with the victim and his roommates, one of whom was not involved with the incident. He said he believed the situation had been resolved.
A week after the report, the same student wrote and sent an email to Comroe and Residence Life and Housing, requesting that one of his roommates be evicted from his dorm after getting into an argument about cleaning schedules.
The photo concerning the “inappropriate symbols” was also mentioned in the email.
Comroe said he brought the email to the Residence Hall manager, Alex Baker, and went over the email with him to clarify everything that he believed could have been incorrect in the email.
“Alex thanked me for showing him the email and told me he would bring it to the right people and that he had it from there,” said Comroe.
Comroe said he assumed the situation would be passed off to someone in the housing department, and at the time, thought he had done his job.
“During the time of the situation, yes, I believe I did do my job…looking back at the fine print, technically I did break policy, but I don’t think it’s something I should have been fired for,” Comroe explained.
Baker was not willing to comment on the situation.
RAs are considered to be mandatory reporters of all incidents of harassment or discrimination.
Julia Paris, Office of Institutional Equity coordinator, trains students on mandatory reporting of all incidents of harassment and how to handle related situations.
For an investigation of an incident to take place, a report must be filed with the OIE.
“There are no boundaries in reporting. If you have knowledge that someone has been injured or someone has been made to feel uncomfortable, and it has been reported to you, you have to report that,” said Ralph Giese, director of Residence Life and Housing.
Molly Kinne, associate director for residence life, said that four residence hall managers supervise the RAs and hold weekly staff meetings to further develop the RAs training and address issues from that week.
Kinne said that if an RA is struggling with reporting an issue, the first step is to call a staff member. Somebody is always on call, according to Kinne.
The consequences for neglecting to report an incident range from additional training to termination of employment. After the OIE investigates the employee in question, the employer then decides what actions to take, she said.