As the new class of community facilitators enters training session at the Community Living and Learning Center, Mike Donaldson, a former CF at The Dakota, said overreaching expectations caused his resignation.
“I think that in light of my situation that the CLLC should do something about the discrepancies in the CFs’ responsibilities across campus,” Donaldson said. “What happened to me could have happened to anyone.”
Donaldson said he was active on campus last year. He ran track and cross-country and envisioned the CF job as a good way to further his campus experience.
“My initial reaction to the job was a bad one,” Donaldson said. “I was told where I was going to live the rest of the year on move-in day. Then we had six days of training from 9 a.m. until 10 or 12 at night. I didn’t get unpacked until the end of September.”
Donaldson said he enjoyed the people he worked with, including the residents and staff members, but the job was not what he had imagined. He let his grades slip as he struggled to keep up with daily responsibilities, he said.
“I went from a 3.49 (grade point average) my first three years to a 1.3 first semester. I was so overwhelmed by the responsibilities,” he said. “I had no idea that it would take so much time. The things that they asked me to do, ironically prevented me from being a community facilitator.”
Donaldson, who was the CF for the ninth and 10th floors of The Dakota, was asked on the Jan. 17 to assume responsibility for a community living and learning program called LEAD, whose original CF had resigned.
“I was approached by my immediate supervisors and was told a description of the LEAD program, and was asked to consider becoming the CF who works with the LEAD program,” he said.
Alyson Kozma, a CLLC assistant community director who was Donaldson’s immediate supervisor, declined to comment.
The LEAD program is a Dakota-based residence hall program that promotes leadership training.
Donaldson told his supervisors that he would consider their suggestion.
“A few days later, I received an e-mail from my supervisor that implied that I had already assumed the LEAD position,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson replied to the Jan. 23 e-mail saying that he was still considering the proposal. When a reply came the next day, Donaldson was dismayed at its contents.
“The supervisor said that she had decided it was best for me to take over the program whether I wanted to or not,” Donaldson said. “I was upset, and when I tried to bring up my concerns over grades and lack of time for this program they were unresponsive.”
Donaldson talked with Kozma and explained that he thought taking on the LEAD position would hurt his grades and take too much time out of a full schedule.
Donaldson said he was convinced by CLLC staff to try out the position and see if the commitment would be too demanding.
“After the meeting I spoke with Kozma and informed the supervisor that I had no doubt that the additional responsibilities with the LEAD program were going to be too much for me,” Donaldson said. “It was suggested that I resign for not being able to fulfill my responsibilities of being a CF.”
Community Director Matthew Porter told Donaldson in an e-mail Feb. 9 that the additional burden of the LEAD program was a “clear expectation” of being a CF and that his termination was likely, Donaldson said. Porter also declined to comment.
“It was suggested that I resign. I said that I would not resign because I felt the reason I gave for not assuming the additional responsibilities was just,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson said he felt his dismissal was imminent.
“I completely expected to have my employment terminated the next day,” he said.
Having heard no decision on his status Feb. 9, Donaldson decided to write an editorial for publication in The Hatchet Feb. 12, thinking his job was doomed.
“It was implied later (by CLLC) that my employment would not have been terminated that day had my editorial not been published,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson said he decided to resign after the response he received from his editorial.
“I felt that the situation needed to come to an end, and I told my next in line supervisor that I would resign on the coming Thursday (Feb. 15),” he said. “This was the first direct communication that I had had with anyone in the CLLC since February eighth.”