CHAPEL HILL, NC—After finishing Machiavelli’s The Prince last Monday, resident advisor Shawn Braithwaite began contemplating next steps almost immediately. Braithwaite has drastically changed the way he handles residents since implementing the Italian political theorist’s treatise on ruling,
“Men worry less about doing injury to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feared,” said Braithwaite, quoting Machiavelli directly. “That’s why I started using Avenir Black Oblique in my emails instead of Comic Sans. It sends the right kind of message.”
For the past week, Braithwaite’s residents have noticed their RA sitting in a green fold-up chair in his room with The Prince, slowly spinning a Carolina-blue lanyard around his finger and stroking his chin. When any of his residents stopped by to say hello, Braithwaite offered only a stern nod, jettisoning any sense of comfort with his cold gaze.
“What’s the RA version of impaling someone?” Braithwaite asked, slowly pulling up the tops of his neon socks and sliding his feet into Adidas flip-flops.
When Ehringhaus resident Jack Poole stopped by to ask Braithwaite for the key to the recreation room, Braithwaite prolonged his grip on Poole’s hand, emphasizing the disparity of power that existed between them. Braithwaite then instructed Poole to close the door on his way out, only to reopen it once Poole was out of earshot.
“Last week he was putting up The Jungle Book wall decorations and giving out candy,” said Poole, who now avoids eye contact with Braithwaite. “Now he just writes threatening messages on our white boards and knocks on our doors to let us know he’s always nearby.”
“It isn’t enough to just ask a resident to come to your study break activity in the E-haus lounge,” said Braithwaite. “Once in a while, one must remind the sheep why they fear the lion.”
Braithwaite says that he has also enforced rule on his hall in subtler ways, using flyers and bulletin board announcements to assert his rule.
The RA’s original “Cross-‘em While You Floss-‘em” crossword puzzles, pasted on the inside of every bathroom stall, now include such hidden phrases as, “You will bow,” “Your freedom is my gift,” and “Step to me, bitch.”
At Braithwaite’s most recent “Pancakes Are Better Than Midterms” event in the Ehringhaus lobby, the RA again invoked The Prince to confront one of his most subversive residents, Wesley Dickson, who had already been cited twice for drinking alcohol in his dorm room.
When Dickson approached the griddle, Braithwaite picked up one of the golden flapjacks with his spatula, looked directly into Dickson’s eyes and dropped the pancake on the linoleum floor.
“Next,” said Braithwaite, his stare lingering on Dickson’s face. No residents spoke.