Residential Life limits roles to one year, campus resident assistants respond

photo of a campus residence hall
Can Jozef Saul/Staff
Residential Life’s decision to limit residence hall staff roles to one academic year hopes to give opportunities to more students. Campus resident assistants noted that the decision excluded staff input, and retention rates for staff roles have been low.

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Starting next year, most residence hall staff roles will be limited to one academic year, including resident assistants, or RAs.

“The goal of this shift to the RA role and hiring process is to increase the number of students who have the opportunity to participate in this leadership development experience,” said campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff in an email. “Our goal is to create more specific engagement, leadership, and development opportunities for our returning hall staff members.”

Ratliff added campus would be creating new positions for returning RAs. Thus, first-year RAs will be able to apply for these returning positions and current RAs will also be able to return to their roles next year.

One notable exception to this rule would be resident advisors of themed programs, who would be allowed to reapply to the same position they currently occupy, according to Ratliff.

Ratliff also noted that Residential Life, or ResLife, will have opportunities for residential staff to express their thoughts on this decision.

The Daily Californian reached out to many RAs for comment. For fear of retaliation, they wished to remain anonymous.

A first-year RA expressed concern that RAs were not consulted before the decision was made, which to them followed a trend of campus treating RAs as “disposable.”

“I was told that there hadn’t been any input from RAs, and that was immediately a red flag. It was very concerning,” the source said. “There’s been a long history of RAs being treated as disposable, such as during COVID when they weren’t given hazard pay.”

The source added that they would not have been as successful in their RA position without help from returning RAs. They feared the lower number of experienced, returning RAs would hurt the ability of future RAs to take care of residents.

Another RA does not believe this decision will increase the number of students who have the opportunity to become RAs as Ratliff said in an email. They added that ResLife already has a low retention rate, a trend this RA has “observed firsthand.”

“There’s essentially almost no point to doing that because as it is right now, the university and ResLife have a massive retention problem,” the source said. “Retention among RAs is very low.”

In addition, this second RA expressed concern about housing and food security for themselves and their fellow RAs. The email they received from campus said there would only be a “limited” number of returning positions.

The concern over housing and food security was shared by a third RA. This source noted that the RA experience is not just limited to how many students are able to take the job.

“Participation in ResLife is not about a singular digit of how many kids you can get to experience this job,” the source said. “It’s also about how many people you can retain or be the best support for new freshmen coming in. You limit that growth by having that cap.”

Contact Christopher Ying at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @ChrisYingg.