By Sophie Regan
All of Residential Education’s (ResEd) plans for fall quarter “are on hold until further notice,” wrote Associate Vice Provost for ResEd Cheryl Brown in an email to residential student staff on Thursday night. “This includes student staff training, Pre-Assignment, the Housing Draw, and the In-House Draw.”
Brown’s email comes on the heels of Provost Persis Drell’s announcement that on-campus residential programs for this summer are canceled and that summer quarter will be online only.
Long-term concerns aside, current student staff do not know whether they will be allowed to spend spring house funds, which are part of students’ room and board fees.
“ResEd is not immune from the financial challenges that the Provost referenced in her email today,” Brown wrote. “As we assess the impact of COVID-19 on our budget, we will be sure to share any updates with you. Next week we hope to have a better understanding of how these changes will impact house funds.”
Only residential student staff enrolled in spring courses will be eligible to receive their spring stipend, Brown confirmed. This will exclude student staff members who decide to take a leave of absence in spring quarter or who have graduated early and were not accepted to stay on campus for a post-graduation quarter.
Brown’s announcement comes after an email from ResEd informing student staff of the policy on March 27 caused concern among some staff members. A Residential Student Staff FAQ posted on March 11 states that “only seniors approved to stay in their Spring Quarter assignment for a post-graduation quarter can continue in their roles despite not being enrolled.” However, students argued this was not enough notice.
“In this email [sent March 27], Residential Education effectively reneged on its promise to continue paying all student staff, and specifically targeted those who had previously been approved for a post-graduation quarter yet are now unable to physically be on campus for a myriad of reasons,” wrote ASSU Vice President and Bob resident assistant (RA) Isaiah Drummond ’20 in an open letter to ResEd leadership. “While I have heard the rationale behind this decision and understand that it has to do with the complex way that student staff stipends are processed, I am not convinced.”
Drummond pointed to financial concerns faced by many students during this time of uncertainty.
“For many, [ResEd’s] decision is not only emotionally draining but financially wicked as it forces students to fend for themselves in a world where there are not many places to turn,” he wrote.
According to Brown, the decision to pay only enrolled students is the result of a number of laws and policies. Under federal labor laws, a student must be enrolled in a bona fide educational program in order to serve as a student residential assistant. Students who are not enrolled, including those who were previously approved for a post-graduation quarter but are living off campus, do not meet this requirement and therefore cannot serve in staff roles.
“We acknowledge this may be a disappointing outcome and hope that unenrolled student staff do not interpret this as a lack of appreciation for their contributions to date” Brown wrote.
Further, the University’s Leave Policies state that students who are on a leave of absence are not registered at Stanford and, therefore, do not have the rights and privileges of registered students.
“Because of this, we encourage all students contemplating a leave of absence to consider the implications of taking a leave in light of their individual circumstances,” Brown wrote.
Enrolled student staff who are living off-campus will still need to perform their duties, including community building and reporting, although, at this time, it remains unclear what these duties will entail remotely.
Non-RA student staff who remain on campus and are willing to take on RA-type responsibilities will see their stipends increase, Brown wrote. She cited the low number of student staff on campus and the increased support that remaining non-RA staff members will be expected to give to their residents as justification for this decision.
One thing that remaining staff will no longer be asked to handle is lockouts, which will now be managed by Housing staff during business hours and by the Community Access Response Enterprise (CARE) team after hours. The master keys of RAs, both those who have left campus and those who remain, will be collected in the near future, Brown wrote.
The lockout decision, according to Brown, “was made to protect the health and safety of our students and limit additional liability and responsibility placed on the few student staff remaining on campus.”
Brown also noted that residence deans (RDs) “are continuing to operate virtually and on-campus for essential purposes. A Live-in RD can report to campus to respond to critical incidents as needed.”
“Last weekend, the RD on-call and the live-in RDs responded to a total of 21 incidents,” Brown wrote. “These calls were mostly related to health concerns and housing questions.”