By Caitlyn Maltese
Elm Staff Writer
Recently the system for paying Residential Assistants has changed. Previously RAs were given a discounted housing price: no matter where they lived, they received the lowest possible housing price of $5,084 per year. With the new system, the RA’s get an additional 50 percent off their housing, so they only have to pay $2,542 per year. “It’s like getting a pay increase of about $670 each semester,” said Director of Residence Life and Associate Dean of Students Carl Crowe.
As well as receiving compensated housing, RAs continue to receive the same biweekly stipend as the old model. Their first year they get $2,700. Each additional year they apply for the position, they receive a pay increase of $200.
Although this change is small, it makes a real difference. Third year RA and senior Hannah Weiss is a great example. “Since I was an RA in Zone 1 for the first two years, getting the lowest housing cost didn’t really make much difference because I was already living in the least expensive dorms,” said Weiss.
“Now that I live in the [Kent Crossing] apartments, part of Zone 4, the decreased cost of housing saves me a lot of money,” she said. “The new change is even nicer. It’s a great step for the Residence Life program. It gives RA’s more incentive to continue and makes us feel like our work is valued.”
“When you look at what WC had paid RA staff in comparison to other similar institutions, we were behind the times,” said Crowe. “We were really behind the times. If you look at national trends right now, a lot of RAs are getting room, board, room and board—some sort of variation of room and board.”
“What’s good about this model is that it’s a good first step because now, between the discounted room rate and the stipend, they are minimally getting room. My goal is to get it at full room and board,” Crowe said.
“Right now the College has so many different priorities that are going on. We’ve got new buildings going up, new programs to add, and there is always a lot of competition for the limited dollars for these priorities, but you never know until you ask. So I’m going to continue to ask,” he said.
According to Crowe, he has been working for the past five years to help make this change happen. One of the things that allowed for this progress are the changes in staff in both the department of Student Affairs and of Business and Finance.
“The good thing is, our new VP for Student Affairs Dr. Xaiver Cole, is very much in favor of increased compensation for RAs and helped make this happen. As did Mark Hampton, the new VP of Business and Finance,” said Crowe. “The two of them were really instrumental in pulling all this together.”
Requirements for the RA Position
An RA must be reliable, honest, mature, approachable, cooperative, open to issues of diversity, able to work well with peers, able to adapt to change.
“For a person to apply to be an RA, they really have to be passionate and excited about the idea of working with people, engaging with people, and helping shape the community,” said Crowe.
From helping bath-robed students who have accidentally locked themselves out of their room to providing first-aid supplies for injuries, RAs are essential resources in residential life.
RAs are typically assigned to a floor and/or Residential Hall where they help build a community of respect by getting to know their residents on both an individual and group level. They do not get to choose where they are placed.
They are placed where the department finds them most effective, though attention is paid to necessary medical accommodations and requests for placement in themed or specialty housing. “If you are only willing to be an RA if you can be placed in a specific building,” the department of Residential Life requests that you “please do not apply.”
To begin the the application process, a candidate must have at least three references to vouch for their character. They have to undergo a group process interview weekend currently scheduled for Feb. 14-15, 2015, which the department of Residential Life describes on the WC website as two days where the candidates complete an interview and group tasks that help the department learn more about them.
Residential Life is now accepting applications until Feb. 9.