MINNEAPOLIS—Addressing a group of incoming University of Minnesota freshmen at an orientation meeting Sunday, Comstock Hall resident assistant Marcus Nelson told students they were lucky to be living on his floor because, unlike the other RAs on campus, he wasn't "on a big power trip."
Nelson, a senior beginning his second year as a resident assistant on the coed dormitory's fourth floor, promised the 42 new students a "totally laid-back, no-pressure atmosphere of mutual respect and trust and stuff like that" during their stay.
"You've got a leg up on other freshmen already, because 4-North rocks," Nelson said. "There's amazing energy here, because we keep it positive."
Added Nelson: "I only have one rule. Call me Marc, not Marcus."
Wearing a baseball cap turned backwards and his room key on a string around his neck, the Mankato, MN–born education major vowed "not to crack down too hard" on anyone violating bans on hot plates or masking tape on the walls. Nelson said that, whenever possible, he preferred using the honor system.
"I'm not here to come down on you," Nelson said. "I won't flip out if you plug in a 150-watt or larger halogen-lamp bulb. I'd ask you to get rid of it only because I wouldn't want you to get in trouble, not because I get off on bossing you around."
"I'm also not going to write you up for playing your stereo during quiet hours," he added. "Just don't be really loud. I'm pretty mellow, but I do have a job to do. And this is just common sense, but never pull the fire alarm except in the event of an emergency."
Nelson then rolled his eyes and smirked as he described the university's "strict" drug and alcohol ban as outlined in the student handbook, repeatedly reminding the dorm residents that the disclosure was something he "had to do."
"I should also mention that on the first day there's a mandatory diversity workshop in the lounge," Nelson said. "I know it sounds like a bummer, but I've been to it before, and it actually makes some cool points. I think you might get something out of it."
Following the orientation, Nelson mingled among the students and further promoted his relaxed, non-tight-ass image.
"I might have seemed intimidating up there, but I'm chill," Nelson told first-year student John Andrusco. "I've got your back, man. I don't care what you do, just don't get me in trouble."
Nelson also confided to freshmen Craig Szyla and Tom Luo that he installed the name signs on their assigned dorm rooms himself.
"The hall director wanted us to just put your names up," Nelson said. "I was like, no way. You guys are way cooler than that, so I put Family Guy stickers on them too."
Despite Nelson's prediction that the incoming freshmen will want to stay at Comstock until they graduate, University of Minnesota campus residency records reveal that 43 of the 46 students who lived on Nelson's floor during the last school year are now living off campus.
Of the three who continue to live at Comstock, one is Nelson himself, the sole member of the class of 2008 still living in the dormitory.
Though it's unlikely that the current batch of residents will have any extended interaction with Nelson in the coming year, he urged them to seek him out if they have any concerns or just want to talk.
"Just flag me down—we could get some sodas at the union, or brainstorm a kick-ass bulletin board theme," Nelson said. "Or I could bust out the Minnesotaopoly game. Whatever, I'll be around."
Nelson concluded his talk by wishing the students an "awesome year," and asking them to please not steal furniture from the lounge and put it in their rooms.
"We're really fortunate to have Marcus," freshman Dave Unger said. "From what he told us, he's nothing like other RAs."