The Resident Assistant (RA) Training Committee released a message to RAs concerning the Resident Statement of Understanding Addendum on Aug. 9, after Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) petitioned for more protection and transparency.
A Resident Assistant Statement of Understanding Addendum that outlined new guidelines for RAs under COVID-19 came under fire after it gathered criticism from students on Reddit and the USG. USG and an anonymous student representing RAs created two petitions that garnered over 750 signatures which listed six complaints and four demands. On Aug. 9, the RA Training Committee emailed RAs concerning the questions and updated policies on guests and leaving campus.
In their petition, USG said they “are not content with the measures that are being taken to shield Resident Assistants and the residents they will be interacting with.” USG did not respond for comment on the updated policies.
USG complained that the original addendum’s policies exposed both students and RAs to the virus during health and safety checks, lacked transparency, forced RAs to perform unpaid work, placed no occupancy restrictions in the college offices, punished RAs for leaving campus and used vague language in their statement. In their list of demands, USG asked Campus Residences to limit RA and resident interactions, pay RAs for any administrative tasks and permit RAs to leave campus for medical appointments and off-campus jobs.
The RA training committee eliminated the rule that stated RAs must remain on campus during the semester, their explanation being it was “originally included in our communication to residents in late March, given that much was known about COVID-19 at that time.” The updated policy permits RAs to leave campus under the Center for Disease Control and New York State guidance, but strongly advises students to remain in the local Stony Brook area.
The dorm guest policy was also changed to permit guests after two weeks. The original addendum stated three weeks.
RAs will continue to work unpaid in the Quad office and the RA Resource Center on top of typical duties. According to USG, student workers are typically hired to work in these offices.
“Given the smaller population that each RA will now serve, we are balancing that with two to five hours each week of RA support in their quad area,” the RA Training Committee said in response to the complaint regarding unpaid work.
One RA stated that all RAs were given only three days to agree to the new guidelines. The RA wished to remain anonymous to avoid backlash from Campus Residences. Those who refused to sign gave up their positions for the fall semester.
“I understand that we’re living in a crazy, chaotic world,” the RA said. “But you gotta give us a little bit more heads up and ask us as well about our opinions on the topic because half of that stuff wasn’t on the job description when I signed up.”