Working as a resident assistant is no easy feat. It is a 24/7 job, and something inescapable, given we live where we work. If I don’t like a coworker, I have 48 hours to figure it out because chances are, I see and work with them often in a “professional setting.” If I can’t possibly live solely off what the Department of Housing pays, there is no recourse. Every RA signs a contract. Plus, RAs receive a meal plan and free room and board. There’s really no reason to complain, in theory, because I signed up for this.
However, while I did sign up for this job, there is no way I would’ve known what it’s really like. It is heavily misleading on paper. Given that, technically it is a 24/7 job, RAs are on the clock nonstop. I have been woken up many times in the wee hours of the morning because someone got locked out of their room or an incident occurred. Yes, I signed up for this, but I am getting paid $51.50 biweekly to lose sleep and have a thick blanket of stress put on me, in addition to everything else I juggle in my life.
The monthly stipend is $103 for traditional-style RAs, which equates to about $4 a day. This wage alone is unlivable, especially for the students who have external bills to pay, like car payments and/or phone bills. The stipend would not be so bad if RAs could supplement it with another part-time job to help ends meet. However, as of this fall semester, DHRL is now implementing a policy that states RAs cannot have a second paying job on campus. According to the resident assistants’ governing documents, RAs may work off campus, so long as the work hours do not exceed 10 per week. RAs cannot work an additional on-campus job, which is highly illogical, given on-campus jobs are much more flexible with students’ school schedules. Not only is this unfair, it is unlawful and shows a complete disregard for students working as resident assistants.
Up until this fall 2018 semester, RAs have received payment from two on-campus jobs and have been allowed to do so. The fact the department is now, after all this time, strongly enforcing a policy that has not been enforced previously is absurd. The issue is not about where our priorities lie, but with the extra money we receive. If our pay is cut from the second job, we may still provide free labor anywhere on campus. However, time is limited as is, and no one strives to work for free. If an RA refuses to give up their on-campus job, they are given an explicit ultimatum.
It is one thing for DHRL to tell resident directors to relay this anti-second job sentiment to RAs, but we are given no explanation as for why now or what the problem is with getting paid from multiple on-campus employers. It is also entirely another thing to try to enforce this rule with practically no notice, a rule that has never been enforced or thought about before. Several RAs have received a pay cut from their supplemental job, so they may choose to continue working the said job but no longer get paid for it.
As long as RAs continue to execute their position to the fullest, there should be no issue with working an additional job to help pay the bills. In no right mind can someone honestly say the RA stipend is livable. Even with some RAs working the limited off-campus hours, that is rarely enough to pay bills and make ends meet. If DHRL wants RAs to stick solely to the position and only focus on that, they should be paying us for what we’re worth; the job is hard, valuable and we have the power to positively affect so many lives on campus.
Texas State needs resident assistants. Our stipend should be increased monumentally, not only because that money is well deserved, but there would be no supplemental job issue; RAs would not need to work anywhere else. There’s a serious, legal issue stemming from an authoritative power, and it is not okay.
– Bayley Bogus is a journalism junior