After Sophomore Advisors (SAs) pushed to receive compensation for increased workloads and COVID-19-related stress last fall, the Office of Residence Life agreed to pay SAs starting in fall 2021.
Some current SAs received emails from their complex directors stating that during the 2021-2022 school year, SAs will receive a housing stipend of $3,000 per year, which was obtained by the Wheel. Other SAs who did not receive an email confirmed hearing this payment amount in conversations with their complex directors and colleagues.
The $3,000 stipend would cover less than half of the 2021-2022 $9,254 housing fee for a standard double room, which is where SAs typically reside. Resident Advisors (RAs) have their housing fees fully covered and receive a stipend of $1,500 per year, which is paid in $150 increments monthly.
Senior Director of Campus Life Scott Rausch wrote in a Feb. 9 email to the Wheel that the exact amount of compensation is “still under review” but confirmed that payment will go into effect in this fall with the next round of SAs.
He stated that the decision to pay SAs was informed by three meetings in the fall semester with a working group that included several SAs and members of the Office of Residence Life.
Praneeth Kolli (23C), an SA from Longstreet-Means Hall, expressed that this was a bittersweet victory for current SAs because they will not reap the benefits of this compensation.
“It’s a success, but I think there’s more that can be done,” Kolli said. “For one, I see no reason why our year can’t be compensated, especially because we’re the ones in the pandemic.”
Hamilton Holmes Hall SA Celline Kim (23C) echoed Kolli’s frustration that their year of SAs would not be compensated and underscored the unique difficulties they endured due to the pandemic.
“The entire reason that my grade of SAs have fought for compensation was, to put it bluntly, because of the current first years,” Kim said. “Seeing how the first years are handling all the COVID restrictions just honestly felt like a slap in the face to say, ‘We’re going to start paying them now instead of you.’”
Harris Hall SA William Gao (23C) applied to the position after talking to his freshman year SAs about the amount of work he could expect. However, he said that COVID-19 created additional challenges which added onto the workload that he did not sign up for.
“I think none of us really knew what the college campus was going to look like with COVID, even with all the regulations with social distancing,” Gao said.
Gao noted that while he was expected to keep students in check, the volunteer description allowed himself to step back when he needed a break.
It is unclear how the compensation will affect SAs who partake in work study programs. Rausch noted that the Office of Residence Life will work with the Office of Financial Aid to “minimize those effects” on student financial aid packages.
“We advise students to meet with their financial aid advisor to understand how the compensation will affect their package before they decide to apply or accept a position,” Rausch wrote.
Residence Life has yet to release RA and SA applications, which were released Nov. 18 last year and closed Feb. 15. This year, the applications were previously scheduled to open on Feb. 15 but have now been postponed indefinitely. Some SAs said this delay impedes planning. Gao said he needs to know whether he will receive the position in order to secure housing next year.
“I don’t want to be someone who doesn’t have time to make a decision just because I don’t even know if the RA position is going to be the same,” Gao said.
Despite frustration with the lack of payment for current SAs, Kolli believes the decision still deserves praise.
“Although there’s room for improvement, I’m happy,” Kolli said. “Doesn’t mean that we stop or that we don’t see if there’s still areas of improvement, but right now, I am feeling successful.”