Student Affairs reviews housing staff pay

Salary information in a previous version of this article was reported incorrectly. 

Discrepancy most apparent between PHE, RA salaries

Salaries for student housing positions do not reflect the training and responsibility required for each position, according to many housing staff members, coordinators and Health Promotion Services (HPS). The discrepancy is most obvious in the pay gap between resident assistants (RAs) and peer health educators (PHEs).

Student Affairs is currently 18 months into a study on discrepancy in pay between staffing positions. According to Dean of Residential Education (ResEd) Deborah Golder, the study will be concluded this school year. Changes will not be implemented until ResEd, a sub-unit of Student Affairs, is able to survey stakeholders and gain support for new pay structures.

Under-compensation for PHEs is an ongoing problem that the Vaden Health Center and Carole Pertofsky, director of Health Promotion Services, have dealt with for years. Vaden and HPS have repeatedly submitted requests to the Vice Provost of Student Affairs for increased budgets in order to increase the PHE salary, Pertofsky said. Those requests have all been denied.

Golder agrees that housing staffs are an integral part of the Stanford residential experience and that the students’ commitments to their roles as staff members is not to be diminished, saying the discrepancy may be outdated.

“Compensation levels when they started, in my opinion, were probably accurate to what the roles were… but the work is not the same as what it originally was,” Golder said.

“The goal is to have the right people in the right places doing the right things for the right amount of pay,” said Jennifer Calvert, associate dean of ResEd.

However, according to reports from student staff members, that goal has not yet been met.

“I put in as many hours as a PHE in a freshman dorm as I do now as an RA for nine and a half times the salary I made last year,” said Tessa Smith ’13, a current RA in Kimball and former PHE in Stern.

RAs are paid the amount of 75 percent of their room and board tuition — a salary that averages to about $9,000 per year. PHEs are paid $1,000 a year.

Smith, along with PHE Coordinator Colin Campbell ’11, said that in terms of specialized training, time investment and responsibility, PHEs are on par with RAs and undoubtedly qualify for equal pay.

“The PHE program is really beneficial to residential education, and it is sad that so many qualified people will not or cannot consider being a PHE due to the low wage with the hours and commitment that the job requires,” Smith said.

The salary discrepancies exist, Golder said, because most staff members take on more responsibilities in the house than is in the letter of the job description.

“I think people come to residential work from an ethic of care and altruism and a desire to serve the community,” Golder said. “I have long been concerned that we are abusing that generosity, and that’s not ok.”

The staff hiring process is divided between departments relevant to each staff position, meaning that at minimum five different groups are hiring housing staff for any given year. Academic Computing Services hires residential computing consultants (RCCs), Residential Education (ResEd) hires row managers — community managers, financial managers, self-op kitchen managers, co-op managers and co-op kitchen managers — and RAs, ResEd and affiliated departments for themed houses hire theme house staffs, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Hume Writing Center hire resident tutors and resident writing tutors and iThrive at Vaden Health Center hires PHEs.

Charlie Fierro ’13, a current Kimball RCC and former Stern RCC, said that RCCs do more than their salaries suggest, particularly in freshman dorms.

Academic Computing Services pay RCCs in freshman dorms approximately twice as much as those in Row houses and apartment-style houses.

Despite the discrepancies in pay, Smith, Campbell and Fierro all agreed that there is no stigma among staff members based on pay. Fierro and his friends applied to be on in-house staffs because of the residents and the resident fellows (RFs), not for the monetary compensation.

A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that some student staff receive free housing and meal plans. No house staff members get free housing or meal plans. The article also stated that Peer Health Educators are paid roughly $2,000 per year. They are in fact paid $1,000 per year. Undergraduate Resident Computer Consultants are paid between $1,125 per quarter and $2,417. This means that the maximum RCC salary is roughly 7/9 of the salary of a Resident Assistant, not 1/4 of the RA salary as was reported in the article. RA salaries are approximately $9,000 per year depending on the house, as reported in the article. However, it was stated in the article that this is 75 percent of room and board. In fact, it is less than 75 percent. The actual percent depends upon exact pay for each house. The Daily regrets these errors.

  • Concerned student

    This article has a number of inaccuracies. No student staff member gets free room and board. RAs only get a stipend equivalent to 75% of room and board. PHEs only get $1000 for the whole year (http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/resed/studentstaffjobs/phe). And the highest RCC salary is $2418 (http://acomp.stanford.edu/jobs/rcc/salary). Depending on where they live, the RA salary varies but is approximately $3500 per quarter. 2418/3500 is approximately 70%, not one quarter.

  • student

    I’m an RA and I DO NOT HAVE FREE HOUSING. Is it really so hard for the Daily to just fact check that? Who edited this? This is public, EASILY VERIFIABLE information. Good lord. I’ll make a little upwards of $9,000 this year, and that’s my total compensation. Also, RCC’s are not even remotely comparable to RAs in their workload. If some RCCs put in a lot of work that’s very commendable, but this whole article just feels like a biased attack on RA salaries. Most RCCs just reload the printer paper and chill in their single. You have no idea how much work goes on behind the scenes as an RA, how much time we spend one on one with residents talking to them that we don’t then blabber on about to the rest of our friends or staff, or the time we take to meet and correspond with RDs (much of which is mandatory). People who say RAs don’t do much work have never themselves been an RA.

  • Staff member

    Really, Daily? This article contains quite a few things that are just blatantly false. I’ve heard these rumors passed around before, and it sounds like the author just wrote based on what she’d heard and didn’t bother to check with ResEd or anyone else.

  • Anonymous

    The Daily – stop posting inaccurate information. RAs do not get free housing or a free meal plan. And RCC salary is NOT one quarter of the RA salary. This is ridiculous.

  • Anonymous

    The lack of fact-checking in this single article is ridiculous. Besides the fact that the compensation reported is inaccurate, consider the fact that RA’s are held to a greater degree of responsibility than PHE’s and RCC’s regardless of the actual amount of work put in. Who has the handle dorm crises and emergencies and pull on-call weekends?

  • A PHE

    PHEs get 325 per quarter… not even close to 2000 per year

  • Against

    Not only were the facts in this article inaccurate, it is seemingly biased against freshman RAs. Why? I would argue that I deserved every penny of my compensation as a freshman RA last year.

    If anything, the real winners are upper-class RAs and RCCs.

    Sure, PHEs deserve a higher salary in my opinion. To say that their responsibilities are on par with the freshman RA, however, is ludicrous.

  • Disappointed

    “Salary information in a previous version of this article was reported incorrectly.”

    So by “previous version” you mean the one that’s currently on the FRONT PAGE of the printed version? Too little, too late. The newspaper should hold itself to higher standards. Online corrections after the fact aren’t good enough.