Residential Education staff and current residential assistants on the Row have reached a final resolution after ResEd initially reversed job offers for three coterm RAs for the 2011-12 academic year. The resolution came after current RAs in the affected houses questioned ResEd’s original decision to reject certain RA hires.
There are currently 35 positions available for RAs on the Row and a maximum of 10 of these spots has been allotted for students who do not have guaranteed housing during the school year. This year, 13 coterm students were hired, and three of these students’ offers were revoked several weeks ago, prompting current housing staffs to voice concerns about the process.
Final decisions were outlined in a meeting last week between ResEd and the current RAs of the affected houses: Bob, Enchanted Broccoli Forest (EBF) and Hammarskjöld (Hamm). However, ResEd Associate Dean Nate Boswell declined to elaborate on the exact nature of the resolution.
The final resolution “involves individual applicants’ private information,” he wrote in an email to The Daily.
“We worked with staff members from each of the individual houses affected to come to the best solution for each of their circumstances where possible,” Boswell said.
“These spots have very generously been allocated through Student Housing with the belief that the Row house system can benefit tremendously from being able to have more seasoned students staff as RAs,” Boswell said.
He said that for the first time in “many years” more than 10 students were chosen during the selection, or “matching,” process. In this process, house staff members are picked based on applicant preferences from the current staff at each Row house and living preferences from the prospective RAs.
Initially, the ResEd staff decided to rectify the mishap by using the results of a series of interviews conducted by ResEd and current RAs at the start of the application process to decide on the final 10. Interviewers asked questions on concepts such as community building and conflict resolution, and rated applicants’ answers on a scale from one to five.
According to Katrina Hui ’11, the RA at Hamm, ResEd initially decided not to offer a position to her house’s first-choice applicant, who currently lives in the house, because she scored poorly in the pre-screening process. Hui declined to mention the applicant’s name to protect her identity. ResEd instead gave the applicant an RA job at Rains and appointed the house’s fifth choice applicant as the RA.
Hui said that, while she is unable to speak for the other two affected houses, ResEd neglected to tell them about this first resolution.
“[We] heard about the situation through the grapevine,” she said.
“The prescreening process was originally never meant to be the determining factor in the decision-making process,” Hui later wrote in an email to The Daily. “A key source of frustration on the part of my staff was because we were not consulted about the dilemma before the offers were made, we had limited input about who ended up getting the position.”
Boswell noted that this concern played a significant role in last week’s meeting, which sought “to ensure a fair process in which [ResEd] thoughtfully involve house staff in problem solving to reach reasonable conclusions.”
Hui said ResEd was able to rearrange the situation so that Hamm’s 2011-12 RA position was re-offered to the house’s first-choice applicant and its fifth choice candidate will now be assuming the RA post at Rains.
According to Boswell, the situation will have important implications for the selection process in future years.
“[It] has caused us to review the role of student staff without years of guaranteed housing and the effects our policies may have on the housing guarantee for undergraduates,” he said. “We will continue to explore this question as we prepare for next year.”