Resident assistants liable to be overworked, fairer contracts and conditions needed


Veronica Bondi is a freshman at the College of William and Mary. She hasn’t decided what she’s majoring in yet, but she’s interested in English, Marketing and Government and she is planning on double majoring. She is a Facilitator-in-Training for Tribe Innovation, a Writing Resources Center Trainee and a member of Library Ambassadors. Email Veronica at

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.

A couple of days before the start of the fall semester, the person who was supposed to be my resident assistant quit, leaving Residence Life scrambling to find a replacement before freshman move-in. In the interim, the two RAs from the floors above took over responsibility for our floor. They changed our bulletin board, read us a very long list of rules, helped us write our living agreement, checked up on us and organized some group activities — all while managing their own freshman halls, who no doubt were just as confused and apprehensive as we were. From the start of the semester to Oct. 20, our two amazing RAs pulled double duty, but they were not paid a cent extra.

Technically, this is entirely legal. The Resident Assistant Employment Agreement permits Residence Life to reassign RAs and give them additional responsibilities. RAs who do not comply face the possibility of getting fired. Morally, however, it is wrong. Residence Life most definitely needs to have the ability to effectively and quickly deal with RA shortages and any other problems that crop up. However, there is no allowance or possibility for compensation detailed in the Employment Agreement, no matter the duration or quantity of extra work assigned. And if an RA refuses to accept additional assignments, they run the risk of losing their job and free housing. In other words — their livelihood.

So, where do RAs stand? They are paid $3,000 over the course of two semesters and receive free housing. There is no provision in their contract that limits the amount of extra work they can be assigned, and refusing additional assignments may cause them to lose their job. I do not believe that an RA will be fired the instant they refuse to accept an additional assignment, or that Residence Life will dole out a crippling amount of extra work. What I am saying is that RAs lack protection from such abuses.

Reading the Resident Assistant Employment Agreement, it is clear that the contract is written with the interests of Residence Life in mind. Outside of listing when and what RAs are paid, the contract just outlines the RA’s responsibilities and the power and rights of Residence Life. But contracts should not be such one-sided documents. RAs are employees, and as such the contract should protect their interests, too. At the very least, the contract should cap the number of hours an RA can work each week and detail what types of extra work warrants monetary compensation. This is the best way to guarantee fairer RA work conditions.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here