Dons gone from UNB residences after this semester

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Dons gone from UNB residences after this semester

The University of New Brunswick is eliminating the don position in campus residences in Fredericton at the end of this semester and many students are frustrated by the changes.

"Having an adult input and having that adult supervision to oversee everything is still really important for people who are still quite young," said second-year student Denika Joseph.

"When you come into first year you're like 17 or 18 years old. That's still pretty young and you can make reckless decisions — there's drinking and all that stuff."

The university told the dons last week that this would be their last semester.

Dons are adults who live in the residences and help students, giving them guidance and support.

They work closely with student proctors such as Otillia McLaughlin.

"There's a general consensus of almost distrust because the news just came out of nowhere and we're just really worried about how we will be supported and how we will be able to support the students next year without the dons," she said.

Adding 3 positions

The university is replacing its 15 dons with two residence life co-ordinators, for a total of three, and adding a senior proctor role in residences.

Student Union president Travis Daley said the plan isn't a great substitute.

"The university plans to have three residence life co-ordinators covering our 11 or 12 residences," he said. "Some of them will live in residence but that's not the same calibre as the amount of dons we have in residence now."

Assistant vice-president of student services Mark Walma said the schedules of the residence life co-ordinators will be made so that one of them is always available and the residence life office will remain open longer, until 8 p.m., to accommodate students.

"Residence life co-ordinators are often people who've come up through residence life, residents themselves in universities," said Walma. "They have studied areas of practice or areas of academia, whether it's providing support or support roles, like nurses, people who are into social work or those kinds of things."

Students are dealing with more complex issues now and need that specialized support, according to Walma.  

"(We have) students with psychiatric issues, students facing challenges in their own lives. We need to support those students better," he said.

Student Union unhappy

But the Student Union said this isn't the way to do it.

Daley said the university's consultation with students was inadequate.

The union has put out a survey to get feedback from students about how they feel and they've received nearly 300 responses.

The university said this change isn't likely to save them any money.