Compensation for resident assistants at Ithaca College has been raised for the 2019–20 academic year. Returning RAs — those who have been employed for three or more semesters — will now be compensated for 100 percent of their room and board, and beginning RAs will be compensated for 80 percent. The previous compensation rate was 91.9 percent of room and board for returning RAs and 75 percent for beginners.
This raise in compensation marks a historic and exciting change for RAs at the college. The last time RAs had full room and board compensation was in the late 1990s, and advocating for full compensation for all RAs is a long-fought battle. Over the past decade, it has become well-known at the college that the RA position is virtually a full-time job — an incredibly intensive and stressful one at that — and full room and board compensation is the least the college could do. Furthermore, many of the college’s peer schools fully compensate RAs for their room and board, and some even provide further compensation, causing the college to appear behind. It is encouraging to see that the college has taken these concerns seriously and is taking a step closer toward fully compensating its RAs.
While not directly correlated with the increase in compensation, RAs will also have new responsibilities during the following academic years. Due to changes in the college’s summer orientation, RAs are now expected to come to campus earlier and assist with orientation. Although this change will only cause them to come to campus four days earlier than their usual start, some RAs have reported still feeling confused about the change and what their precise obligations will be at orientation. This is an issue that can be amended if the college provides comprehensive information regarding the new position changes, an action that it should do sooner rather than later.
Ultimately, the changes made to the RA position are multifaceted. However, what is most crucial to the college during this time of change is to fully communicate what the consequences of those changes are to its RAs. This should be a time of celebration for RAs, and the current lack of clarity only dampens it.