RAs in returning student dorms to be compensated at lower rate next year

The main entrance to Harleston Hall is pictured on Oct. 7, 2016. Alexis Serino / The Tufts Daily

First Year Advisors (FYA) and Community Development Advisors (CDA), the two new student positions replacing the Resident Assistant (RA) role, will be compensated at a different rate from RAs in the past, according to Director of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) Yolanda King.

The compensation changes are part of ResLife’s overhaul of campus housing, including the expansion of first-year-only dorms and the corresponding redefinition of the RA roles.

Next year’s FYAs, who will work in first-year-occupied dorms, will receive the same compensation as this year’s RAs, which includes full coverage of housing costs and a partial meal plan, King said. However, CDAs, who will work in upperclassman dorms, will receive a $1500 stipend for the academic year, no coverage of housing costs and a partial meal plan each semester, according to KingAccording to an email to the Tufts community last Friday, the cost of on-campus housing in the 2017–2018 academic year will be $7,658. 

The compensation plan for CDAs, who will live in buildings such as Carmichael Hall designated for returning students, is worth less than that for FYAs because the two roles carry different responsibilities, King explained.

“Compensation is different because they are going to be doing different things,” King said.

Student Services Project Administrator Brittney Washington and Area Residence Director Donisha Thaxton said FYAs will act as mentors to first-years, introducing them to various campus resources and helping integrate them into the Tufts community through programming. CDAs, on the other hand, will focus on non-first-year students. 

“Community Development Advisors (CDAs) are a resource for continuing students.  They live in residence halls with their peers and are responsible for building communities and programming events that are tailored to the experiences of upperclassmen,” Washington and Thaxton told the Daily in an email.

Vera Guttenberger, a sophomore and current Hodgdon Hall RA, said the change in compensation was logical based on the differences in responsibilities of each role. In particular, she noted that FYAs may have more work than CDAs, given that FYAs will be expected to play a larger role in first-year orientation than they traditionally have.

“It makes sense to me, especially because they are making the change with the housing … and [it] makes sense to have two different roles,” she said. “[For CDAs] I don’t think they expect you to … go spend orientation time with [first-year students], which is what they are doing for FYAs.”

Guttenberger said the change in earnings was a factor in her decision to apply as a FYA rather than a CDA. She said that, with the compensation provided, becoming a CDA “wasn’t worth it.”

“I think the change in compensation makes sense, but I also think that it is ridiculously low,” Guttenberger said.

She added that many other people she knows went through the same thought process.

“I think a lot of people I talked to were going to be CDAs but then they found that it was not being paid for as much, and then they applied to be FYAs,” she said. Next year, Guttenberger will be a FYA in Metcalf Hall.

Guttenberger wondered if, given the lower compensation of the CDA role, there would not be enough people to fill the positions.

King said that there have not been drastic changes in the number of applicants.

“People applied … nothing really changed … we knew how many people we were going to make offers to,” King said. “Some people declined, but we had an alternate list if anyone declined. Right now both positions have been filled.”

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