As hard-working McGill students endure an intense five-day long stretch of classes, assignments and meetings, the weekend eventually rolls around, offering sleep-deprived class-goers a break from the stress of everyday life. Unlike most McGillians, Jessica Margolis-Pineo’s work doesn’t end on the weekends. As a floor fellow in the New Residence hall, Margolis-Pineo, U2 Cultural Studies, sacrifices her favourite weekend rituals of dining in Chinatown and watching Grey’s Anatomy to keep her freshmen company.
Yet, according to Margolis-Pineo, the sacrifice is well worth it. The life of a floor fellow, she claims, is incredibly “fulfilling.” Young New Rez students, many of whom are away from home for the first time, keep her extremely busy .Margolis-Pineo’s job often feels like “emotionally draining counselling without pay,” but nevertheless, she loves it. “We’re there because we care,” claims a comfortable and confident Margolis-Pineo. She values the connection that she is able to form with her floor as they adjust to university life.
As a responsible pseudo-maternal figure, Margolis-Pineo takes late night condom requests and post-puke tuck-ins lightly. Margolis-Pineo has, in fact, already given away an entire box of condoms to these equally responsible first years. Margolis-Pineo is herself a New Rez graduate, owing her amazing freshman year experience to her own former floor fellow. His hands-off, socially cohesive style of leadership inspired her own approach to leadership.
The popular image of a drunken, lazy upper-year who is utterly incapable of leaving the safety nest of the dorm room does not exist in McGill’s Rez life. Rather, being a floor fellow is a highly coveted position that is certainly not for the weak. Hundreds of bright-eyed and hopeful youths attempt to become members of the mentorship clan each year, undergoing an intense screening process filled with essays, references and interviews.
At first glance, the responsibility can seem unappealing to many ex-resident students. “I wouldn’t go backto living there [in New Rez] if they held a rifle to my head,” says Jeff Fisher, a U1 economics major. But for Margolis-Pineo, reliving the Rez life has been rewarding. “I have plenty of time for a social life,” says Margolis-Pineo. This residence guru is only “on duty” (meaning: she is required on the premises), for four weekends out of the whole school year.
But do floor fellows miss out on the know-how of off-campus living? “I don’t regret my decision,” asserts Margolis-Pineo, “but I do kind of wish I had the experience. … There are moments [in Rez] when you’re actually reminded why you get an apartment and cook your own meals.” Nevertheless, Margolis-Pineo isn’t in a hurry to live outside of the college bubble. “There will be plenty of time for that when real life starts.”