Following years of pushback, four student residential staff positions — Ethnic Theme Associates (ETAs), Peer Health Educators (PHEs), Academic Theme Associates (ATAs) and Row student managers — will see a $1,000 increase in pay in the next academic year, according to an email sent to student staff applicants by Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Harry Elam and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole.
“Throughout the process of leading the ResX Task Force, we heard many concerns about the distribution of work and pay in student staff roles,” the email stated. “We believe these to be critical issues that we need to address.”
Currently, PHEs are paid a $3,075 stipend through Vaden Health Center, whereas Residential Assistants (RAs) are paid $11,822 through Residential Education (ResEd). ETAs and Row managers are paid $4,200 through ResEd. ATAs are paid $3,075 — or $3,844 if in Crothers — through ResEd.
Both student staff and administrators seemed to view the raise as a start in advance of further changes, with Elam and Brubaker-Cole calling it “an important first step.”
Brigitte Pawliw-Fry ’19, a kitchen manager in Hammarskjold, who drafted a petition requesting an “equitable pay structure” for row managers, described the increase as a “necessary first step to ensure that student staff are recognized for their work — and long overdue.”
Pawliw-Fry says she delivered her petition, which she says garnered 87 signatures within two days from current and former row managers, to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. She described him as “open to hearing about these concerns” and said that the president had forwarded her petition to Brubaker-Cole.
She also said that the pay increase did not recognize the different responsibilities for staff members in self-ops, which have professional cooking and cleaning stuff, and co-ops, which do not.
Kyle Dixon ’20, a PHE in Kimball who began circulating a petition for PHEs to receive the same compensation as RAs, described the move as a “step in the right direction.” Still, he said it was not enough, describing it as a “stop gap” measure in the path to pay equity. He noted that even with the pay increase, PHEs would still receive a fraction of the salary of an RA.
“I’m optimistic that maybe things will change — but at a much slower schedule than we hoped,” he said. “But you know that’s just the way administration works. And for now this is a step in the right direction.”
Elam and Brubaker-Cole wrote that the ResX Task Force had “heard many concerns” about distribution of work and pay to student staff. In October, a coalition of PHEs, including Dixon, authored a Daily Op-Ed calling on the University’s ResX Task Force to increase compensation for PHEs to the level of pay received by Resident Assistants.
This follows multiple years of protests over PHE salaries; in 2016, many Resident Fellows boycotted the PHE program’s wage salary by choosing to appoint additional RAs in lieu of a PHE.
ETAs also galvanized support for pay raises in November, circulating a petition for pay equity that garnered over 527 signatures. ETAs argued that they do just as much work as RAs, and that the disparity reflects the University’s attitude towards people of color.
Additionally, a resolution supporting increased ETA pay was unanimously approved by the Undergraduate Senate on Jan. 23. The bill cited RA and RCC pay, pointing out that it is much higher than the pay of ETAs, although they “perform the same duties as other staff members.”
The announcement comes a day after the deadline for staff applicants to submit rankings of the positions and houses to which they applied.
“We feel that this is an important first step as we await the ResX recommendations on both staffing roles and staff pay,” the email stated. “Best of luck as you wrap up the selection process and move into the end of the quarter.”