Home Opinions St. Olaf Residence Life employees are severely underpaid

St. Olaf Residence Life employees are severely underpaid

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For those of you who check your email, you have probably noticed that you have received quite a few emails about joining Residence Life. Whether you’ve ever actually considered becoming a part of Residence Life or not, you’ve probably heard how much RAs and JCs make.

In fact, the amount Residence Life Staff get paid likely plays into, at least in a small part, who ends up doing Residence Life. In case you didn’t know, Junior Counselors (JCs) make $1,900 and Resident Assistants (RAs) make $3,750 for the entire school year. Simply looking at this, this amount seems like a decent wage, especially with the knowledge that that money goes directly into a person’s tuition, meaning that Residence Life staff does not have to pay 2-3 thousand dollars of their annual tuition bill.

This seems great … until you look at almost any other schools’ Residence Life program. If you look at any other college or university’s Residence Life, you will instantly see that St. Olaf Residence Life staff members are seriously underpaid.

Residence Life workers do a variety of different jobs. Not only do they ensure the safety of students and the building, but Residence Life workers also enforce safety rules and plan events. Residence Life workers are also trained in a variety of different situations in order that they can be prepared for any situation that arises.

Residence Life members also must be available to talk with residents at any moment. Being a Resident Assistant is a full-time job and workers are never technically off-duty. Their shifts are also late at night, contrary to many of normal jobs on campus. Since Resident Assistants must always be available to aid their residents, they should be paid more for their services.

At University of Minnesota schools, Resident Assistants are provided with free room and board in exchange for their service as members of Residence Life. That roughly amounts to anywhere between $7,750 and $10,000 per Resident Assistant per year. Again, compare this to St. Olaf Resident Assistants who only make $3,750. University of Minnesota Resident Assistants make almost three times the amount that St. Olaf Resident Assistants make.

Residence Life members across state borders are also making more money than St. Olaf Resident Assistants. Take Harvard University for example. At Harvard, similar to University of Minnesota schools, Resident Assistants receive free room and 10 meals a week. This is for the same work that Resident Assistants at St. Olaf do, yet Harvard students still receive a greater reimbursement for their services.

While many colleges exchange room and board for Resident Assistants, it is important to have a general idea of how much room and board costs. While each college charges different prices for their dorms, for arguments sake, we can assume that the prices are similar to room and board prices at St. Olaf. For the 2017-2018 school year, St. Olaf College charges $5,000 for room and $5,430 for board, totaling up to a price of $10,430.

Harvard and University of Minnesota prices are relevant to St. Olaf Residence Life, but they are still very different institutions. However, Carleton College is right across the river. While St. Olaf and Carleton share some of their services, such as the libraries and dining services, their Residence Life programs are not the same.

Resident Assistants at Carleton receive a salary equivalent to 14.5 hours a week. Carleton Resident Assistants also have less time on duty than St. Olaf Resident Assistants. Carleton’s duty is on weekends 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.; St. Olaf’s duty is every night 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

One of the benefits that St. Olaf Resident Assistants receive is their additional work study amount. Most Resident Assistants at St. Olaf receive an additional $1,000 of work award plus their pay to be on Residence Life.

While Resident Assistants at St. Olaf are seriously underpaid compared to basically any other college or university in the nation, the likelihood of St. Olaf increasing Resident Assistants’ salary is not likely.

Mickaylie Bade ’20 (bade1@stolaf.edu) is from Hutchinson, Minn. She majors in English.