The policy barring resident advisers from holding their leadership position and a work-study job has been amended, providing much relief for students originally affected.
The changes were made in response to concerns over the fairness of RA compensation. ORU places a tuition-level cap on institutional scholarships. This means that those RAs already receiving full-tuition benefits from the university served without pay.
“There were definitely times last year, moments of frustration, where (I thought) I’m doing this for free,” Delfino recalls. “It is a huge commitment.”
Dean of Men, Matthew Olsen, heads the men’s RA program. He recognized the problem when he lost potential RAs because they could not work for free.
“What is an appropriate response to this?” Olsen remembers thinking. “I can fight for you and with you, rather than against you.”
This spring, Olsen spent months working with members of the administration and various departments to find a solution for students like Delfino. These meetings resulted in the switch to stipend pay in July.
“I had four stellar guys [who couldn’t work],” Olsen said. “That’s a lot of time to work for free.”
“[They] recognize that [I am] doing as much as anyone else,” Delfino said. “For me, it was a huge relief.”
RAs previously received a yearly $5,200 scholarship. Under the new policy, they are to be compensated with a bi-weekly work-study stipend equal to the $5,200 scholarship. According to career services, this is based on a 20-hour work week at minimum wage.
Because the federal government limits student-workers to a 20-hour work week, RAs were no longer eligible for additional on-campus jobs. Those with positions in offices around campus lost them as a result.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Oh my gosh, I seriously can’t work in missions anymore,’” said senior RA Nicole Reed. “But immediately I felt the grace of the Holy Spirit to say, ‘You know what? I trust the deans.’”
Reed was the public relations assistant in the missions and outreach department. She is also an RA in Claudius. She lost her job in the missions office after the changes to RA compensation.
Due to the resulting loss of jobs for RAs and subsequent concerns from employers on campus, a new approach needed to be found.
They brought in legal counsel, and, eventually, a solution was found.
“It was a clarification of the way the government views resident advisers. This was done in conjunction with the university’s general legal counsel,” Olsen said.
Rather than being defined as a student worker, the RA job description is now defined as a “student service position.”
On-campus employment was reopened to RAs by Aug. 13. They will continue to be paid via stipend for their work in the dorms.
“Praise God that now we get to work on campus,” Reed reflects. “[The deans] were fighting for us.”