The Panopticon of Res Life

I’m not sure if this will turn out as more of a rant than a chill commentary, but hey. It has relevance to Foucault. I think.

Alright, so a key part of living in residence at all universities is that of having an RA whose job it is to look over the students in their charge and make sure that they don’t do anything stupid and abide by the rules. We know this. I respect this. We do need someone to look after us and ensure our good behavior. However, it just so happens that that person lives next to me.

Yep. I won the RA jackpot.

I promise you that I am a good, quiet, respective person who acknowledges and heeds the rules of my house. I try my absolute best to follow them and make sure my friends do too. And for the most part, I do. Except for the dreaded quiet hours.

Weekdays from 9pm – 7am and weekends from 1am – 7am we are expected to be so absolutely quiet that you can hear a pin drop on the carpeted halls. Over-exaggeration, sure. But that’s how it feels when you share a wall with an RA who enforces this rule like her life and the lives of everyone in this house depend on it. I’m sure you can imagine how having an RA is kind of panoptic, in the way that there is one entity in charge of many, and we all have our own rooms with our names on the doors and she knows all of us and can observe us easily enough.

Now, I am aware not everyone has this problem with their RAs, and for the most part my RA is cool. But I swear to god I’ve become paranoid at night.

Half of the time I don’t even know if she is in her room, yet as soon as the clock strikes 9:00pm, I am whispering. Now this may seem like unwarranted paranoia, but guys, here’s a small compilation of the times I’ve been told to be quiet.

  1. Watching Netflix at 1am when the volume is so low I can barely hear it, but apparently she can.
  2. Having a coughing fit in my room (yes, a coughing fit).
  3. Talking to my mom at night (because of a time difference that she is very aware of, yet ignores). I’ve even been told to be quiet when it wasn’t quiet hours. My mom can now barely hear me at night on Skype. Great.
  4. Having a normal, quiet conversation with my friend across the hall in her room (she threatened to write us up that time. We were talking about her Mandarin class).
  5. Walking to the bathroom and being falsely accused of talking when it wasn’t even me and in fact some neighbours who were talking. I tried to clear my name, but alas. Was still accused.

Apparently I am the loudest member in this house. You’d think so. But I think she has the ears of a bat.

I believe from this simple sample of the times I’ve been told to be quiet is enough justification of my paranoia, and the thing is that you can’t knock on her bedroom door to see if she’s there. I mean, you can, but here’s the thing; you knock once, she’s there. You make up an excuse for knocking and then say goodnight and report back to your friends that she is there so be quiet please dear God. Everything is fine. Next night, you knock again. No response. It’s safe enough to believe she isn’t there so you can actually talk at a normal volume. Night three, you knock and she answers. Honestly, at this point even though she’s only answered twice it’s a really weird coincidence that you’re knocking at 9 or later to ask some dumbly mundane question and she’s not dumb, she’ll start getting suspicious. You can’t risk that. So you always have to act like she’s in her room, unless you happen to know for sure otherwise.

Does that make sense?

It’s like Schrodinger’s RA in a Panopticon.

Does that make sense?

Well, that’s about what I wanted to say. Took me like two weeks to come up with it. It was a lot harder to write out than I thought it would be!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply