Resident Advisor to Receive Mason’s Presidential Citation

Posted: February 24, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

George Mason undergraduate Clarissa Abban expected the morning of Sept. 30, 2005, to be no different than any other day of the week. Abban is a resident advisor for President’s Park and oversees the safety of students. She was in Madison Hall when she saw something peculiar: An unidentified man harassing one of her female residents.

Visibly intoxicated, the man was yelling at the female resident in her room. He became so distraught that he punched the resident’s large wooden closet. In the process, he damaged the door and cut his hand. Abban immediately recognized the seriousness of the situation.

“Once I found out that the individual was intoxicated and didn’t want to leave the floor when I asked him to leave, I figured that he was bad news,” says Abban, a global affairs major.

Abban intervened immediately, putting herself between the unidentified man and her female resident. She initially demanded the man leave, which he did voluntarily.

She returned to her room to report the incident to her advisor when she again heard commotion in the hall. The intoxicated man had returned and was beating on the door of the female resident. For a second time she put herself between the resident, who was in her room, and the man. Instead of voluntarily leaving the area, the man began yelling obscenities at Abban.

Abban was able to back him into an exit in the building when Mason police officers on foot patrol overheard the commotion and apprehended the man.

As a result of the actions Abban took, she was nominated by Mason police officer David Ganley for a Presidential Citation, a university award given to someone who provides a service or performs a deed at either personal or potential sacrifice that was motivated by good citizenship or a sense of public responsibility. Abban will receive her citation on Feb. 28 as part of Mason’s biannual awards ceremony.

“Clarissa’s courage in this incident should be commended … she refused to back down,” says Ganley. “I feel that her actions merit a Presidential Citation.”

Connie Kirkland, director of Sexual Assault Services, says Abban’s “ability to stop the intruder, despite his size and his obvious intoxication, took great skill and confidence.”

Abban continues to serve as a resident advisor. “[Resident advisors] make it our responsibility to do something about things that don’t seem right,” says Abban.

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