Revisiting the Basics | Heinzman


A residential student returned to the halls intoxicated from a fraternity party alleging they were sexually assaulted. The suitemates reached out for help and the individual took more substances. The student was released from the hospital only an hour after transport.


Campus Police, Greek Life, Hospital Transport, Residential Community, Residential Community, Sexual Assault, Suicide Attempt, Title IX


  • Angela Johnson (she/her) – Resident Assistant (19), Sophomore studying biology on the pre-med track. She is currently taking the Emergency Medical Technician class because she hopes to volunteer with the College Emergency Medical Services team the upcoming semester. Angela has been an exemplary RA! She actively engages with her residents, is on time with administrative work, is attentive and engaged at staff meetings. As a first year RA she is standing out on the team.
  • Sarah MaCaslan (she/her) – Resident of 728, first-year in-state student (19). Within her suite, she always tries to include everyone and make sure they spend at least one night a week all together. Sarah wanted to join a sorority because she was timid in high school and wanted to make more friends. She was thrilled when she was invited to join her top choice sorority. She has been busy attending events and getting to know the other women in the organization. She gets along well her suite mates. Her roommate Jill also went through the sorority recruitment process but is in a different organization. Sarah does not spend much time in the residence hall.
  • Jill Goldman (she/her) – Resident of 728, first-year out-of-state student, age 18. Jill picked this college because it is close to where her family used to live. They come back every summer to visit. She knows the area well. She participated in sorority recruitment and was invited to be a member of her first choice which is the same organization as her mother. Jill loves her roommate Sarah. They get along very well. Jill likes the other women in the suite. She was really nervous about living with people but she is happy it is working out well.
  • Christy Tucker (she/her) – Resident of 730, first-year in-state student (18). She picked this college because it was as far from home as she could get while remaining in the state (a requirement for her parents to help her with college). She was academically strong in high school but seems to be enjoying the social aspects of college. Christy has been involved in a few minor incident reports related to noise but there was nothing else. There are no known issues within the suite. Everyone is getting along well. They enjoy spending time with one another at meals or going out.
  • Alex Briney (he/him) – Residence Hall Director On-Call – Alex has been working for the college for two years. He attended a graduate program at rural institution. He loved the institution and wanted a new experience of working at an urban campus. The first year was a challenging as Alex transitioned to the full-time position and learned to set boundaries. He is feeling much more confident in his position this year. Alex oversees the apartment complexes on the other side of campus and has not spent much time in this residence hall.

Important Information

  • Rooms 728-730 are connected by a shared bathroom
  • Assume all protocols were followed at the time of the incident.
  • SRMH – Southern Regional Medical Hospital (one of three local hospitals)


You are the Director of Residence Life at a mid-sized public institution located in a mid-sized metropolitan city. The on-campus student population is predominately first year students. There a many nearby private apartment complexes which cater to the student population. These apartment complexes are so close that students frequently walk to campus, and city residents do not always know which buildings are run by the institution and which are privately owned. About 10% of the student population live farther away from campus and students frequently use ride shares as there in limited public transportation (only operational during the day).

In the early hours of a Wednesday morning, you are notified by the on-call Residence Hall Director that a student was transported to one of several local hospitals for public intoxication. You are informed that the person was alert, a little argumentative, and the EMS team evaluating the student determined it was best to transport the student to the hospital for a more thorough evaluation. According to the information your received and the institution’s standard operating procedures, no action was required by university staff in the moment and follow up in the morning was appropriate.

On Wednesday morning, you are in your office and you read the following incident report related to the overnight call:

On Tuesday, September 23rd at 11:30pm Resident Isobel MaCaslan knocked on Resident Assistant (RA) Angela Johnson’s door. MaCaslan explained that suitemate Resident Christy Tucker asked to speak to the RA Johnson but did not want public safety contacted. MaCaslan explained to RA Johnson that Tucker, MaCaslan, and Resident Jill Goldman were out at an off-campus fraternity party when they began feeling unsafe. MaCaslan and Goldman called a ride home and tried convincing Tucker to come with them, but Tucker refused. After MaCaslan and Goldman had gotten back to the Residence Hall, Tucker showed up telling them Tucker had been sexually assaulted at the party.

Upon hearing this, RA Johnson went to room 728 where Tucker was sitting on the floor crying. MaCaslan and Goldman were in the room as well. RA Johnson tried to talk to Tucker for a while but Tucker was switching between sobbing and yelling. RA Johnson could not get Tucker to calmly talk to RA Johnson. Tucker was slurring her speech and was unable to focus. RA Johnson called Campus Safety at 12:28 am. RA Johnson went to meet EMS at the building entrance. Before RA Johnson went to meet Campus Safety, Tucker asked for food. RA Johnson left Tucker with MaCaslan and Goldman as she went to meet Campus Safety. While RA Johnson was escorting Campus Safety and MaCaslan was making food, Tucker drank half a bottle of Nyquil and took 5-6 Cyclobenzaprine.

At 12:30am, Goldman contacted RA Johnson (who was waiting for EMS) stating Tucker had taken more prescribed pills and was fading in and out of consciousness. Campus Safety and EMS arrived at 12:38am. Upon arriving on the scene, EMS used a sternal rub to wake Tucker who was unconscious. The sternal rub woke Tucker who immediately began to yell and swear at everyone. Tucker insisted they were fine and did not need to be transported to the hospital. Tucker said it is their norm to drink Nyquil and take pills every night to sleep. Tucker was screaming at RA Johnson for calling Campus Safety. Tucker was screaming at their suitemates for not letting them sleep and for leaving them at the party. Tucker became so worked up that she was incoherent. Campus Safety and EMS told Tucker they needed to transport Tucker to the hospital because of the loss of consciousness. Tucker was loaded into the ambulance and transported to one of the local hospitals.

RHD Alex Briney (RHD on-call) was called by RA Johnson at 12:48am. Tucker was taken to the hospital at 12:50am. RHD Briney collected the relevant information and relayed it to the Director of Residence Life.

At 1:32am Tucker began calling MaCaslan and Goldman as well as sending threatening messages. Tucker arrived back at Freedom Residence Hall at 3:40am where she began knocking loudly on MaCaslan and Goldman’s door and her door 730 (Resident Tucker did not have her key) as well as screaming. Tucker then went to RA Johnson’s room loudly knocking and screaming to open the door. Residents on the floor called Campus Safety. At 1:35 am, Campus Safety arrived at Freedom Residence Hall.  All of the students gathered in the hall immediately scattered into rooms with closed doors. Campus Safety did a complete walk through of the building, passed through the seventh floor again. There was not further noise or disturbance. Campus Safety left the building.

As you finish reading the incident report, your office phone begins to ring. On the other line it is your supervisor, the Dean of Students, who has also just finished reading the incident report. Your supervisor wants to know your plan.

Discussion Questions

  • What information do you (the director) need to gather to assist with follow up?
  • What immediate steps do you need to take?
  • What are the mid-term and long-term steps you would take?
  • What offices need to be involved?
  • How do you support your staff?
  • What additional training does your staff need to be prepared for situations like this?
  • What (if any) procedural changes would you like to address?
  • What (if an) relationships need to be strengthened to help prevent situations like this from happening again?

Advanced Discussion Questions

Imagine that you are new to the department. During your first six months, you have learned that the department is very siloed and communication between departments has been challenging because everyone is so focused on making their programs succeed. Which office would you want to work with to better support this student in crisis and her suitemates? What steps would you take to build relationships across campus?

Author Bio:

Joy Heinzman (she/her) is the Associate Director of Residence Life at the College of Charleston. She started at CofC in July 2017, as a Residence Life Coordinator then as Assistant Director for Residence Life. Joy attended the University of New Hampshire and earned a dual bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Psychology. She attended graduate school at the University of Maine where she obtained her Master’s in Education in Student Development in Higher Education. Before coming to Charleston, Joy was a Residence Hall Director at Christopher Newport University and the Assistant Director of Student Learning Initiatives at James Madison University.