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Tuesday, Dec 5, 2023

College commits to incrementally increase resident assistant (RA) pay to equal room cost by 2024–25 academic year

After months of deliberation, the college agreed to incrementally increase pay for resident assistants (RAs) to reflect the room cost by the 2024–25 academic year. The college will also adjust pay for other ResLife student-staff positions, using the new RA pay as a baseline.

The changes followed advocacy for higher pay among ResLife staff last academic year. Dean of Students Derek Doucet told The Campus that he and Vice President for Student Affairs Smita Ruzicka were already working behind the scenes to increase ResLife pay before they were contacted by students.

Associate Dean for Student Life AJ Place told The Campus that ResLife compensation has been increased “almost yearly” since 2016.

“These latest adjustments will help us reach the compensation level of room cost for RAs, which is the standard many institutions use,” Place said. “The other position compensation levels were set in relation to the RA levels.”

Beginning in the 2024–25 academic year, RA compensation will reach the room cost of $9,600. Accordingly, the compensation is $12,750 for Head RAs, $4,800 for Feb RAs and $4,000 for Community Assistants (CAs), according to a May 2022 email Doucet sent to the students advocating for higher pay. ResLife staff received pay increases for the 2022–23 academic year and will receive further increases for the 2023–24 year to bring compensation closer to the room cost.

The ResLife student-staff that reached out to administrators to advocate for a pay increase felt that past pay scales for ResLife positions did not reflect the work they put in as student leaders.

“I was disappointed and started having conversations with peers to see what we could do,” Kamryn You Mak ’23 said.

You Mak and other ResLife employees sent a petition letter to senior leadership highlighting the main reasons why they believed ResLife staff should get a pay increase.

“Throughout the year, we are the first people students go to when they have questions about classes, struggles with registration, conflicts with roommates and friends, feel homesick or just want someone to talk to. We realize that most of this work is unquantifiable, but it is invaluable to our residents and the Middlebury community,” the students wrote.

The letter also mentioned the time commitment and sacrifice of weekend nights ResLife staff surrender, as well as the increased responsibility ResLife staff have taken on throughout Covid-19.

ResLife staff researched pay scales at other NESCACs and universities to compare to Middlebury’s. They found that most other NESCACs offer compensated room and board or a stipend of that amount. Outside of the NESCAC, residential staff are generally paid even more, according to the ResLife staff.

“The ResLife staff play an essential role on campus and truly care about their work. Compensating them accordingly is critical,” Place told The Campus.

Ella Nasi ’22.5 who has been on ResLife staff for three years, was happy with the decision.

“It’s good that we are on the same page as other colleges and it makes sense that a job that involves taking care of students where you live means that you get the room for free. It could also hopefully encourage more students to be a part of ResLife because we always need more people and this could be a good incentive,” Nasi said.

Jaden Roderique ’22, who was on ResLife last year, felt the change was important and noted that enrollment this year and last has been higher than recent years.

“I think the raise in salary was necessary in making sure RAs are compensated for their work, especially with each incoming class being larger than the last,” Roderique said.

You Mak reflected on the changes to the pay scale.

“I am glad to see that the college is committed to compensating ResLife accordingly, and I am proud of all of the ResLife staff that worked so hard to make this happen,” You Mak said.

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