Daily Egyptian

RAs seek ability to get a second job, gain student trustee and GPSC support

By Kallie Cox, Staff Reporter

Several resident assistants are attempting to change the rule that prohibits them from getting a second job. They are paid $120 a month and their room and board are covered.

RAs are told not to interact with the media, and that they will suffer consequences up to losing their job if they speak with media for an article.

RA “B”  who cannot be named for this reason, said there are people that support what these RAs are doing, but are terrified that the RA stipend will be taken away just to have the choice of a second job.

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“Which isn’t fair,” the RA said. “Dr. Shaffer says at other schools they don’t allow you to have a second job. SIUE allows you to have a second job.”

RA B said the RAs that are requesting the ability to hold a second job are doing so because they have other bills and loans to pay that their stipend will not cover.

“I can’t even afford a parking sticker,” the RA said. “We even asked for a discount on parking because I can’t pay for a parking pass with $120 a month.”

The Daily Egyptian contacted Director of Housing Jon Shaffer via email, and there was no response. When the Daily Egyptian contacted Shaffer through phone, he declined to comment. 

RA B said academic peer advisors are only paid $80 a month.

“The APAs are struggling the most,” RA B said. “We get $120 a month APAs only get $80. So a lot of times they are struggling to pay for life.”

RA B said other RAs and APAs are also struggling to pay for hygiene items, medication, trips to the doctor and therapy.

RA B said women are struggling with the stipend because they have to pay for items such as pads and tampons, and minorities are struggling because of their financial backgrounds.

“This rule doesn’t allow for the equitable status of everybody in the position,” RA B said. “It is not sensitive to minority employees.”

When RA B talked to Shaffer about this issue, she said she showed him the numbers for the budget of a typical male and female. Shaffer said “We are not here to fund your lifestyle,” according to RA B.

“It is not a lifestyle, I am trying to survive,” RA B said.

RA B finds fulfillment in their job, but the rule against having a second job and the low stipend kills it, they said. They are friends with many RAs and APAs who were unable to return to their jobs because of this policy.

These RAs have tried to keep this issue between Housing and themselves because they don’t want to create another public issue for the university.

“I want them to work with us,” RA B said.

Student Trustee Brione Lockett said he has heard from current and former RAs who say they are hurting for money. In his opinion, he said it cannot hurt SIU to offer a second job opportunity for RAs.

“I am all for the opportunity and the option to receive a second job and have a policy for that, but then again I see the other side of we are students first, but I have been a student and to live off of a hundred dollars a month? That’s highway robbery,” Lockett said. “I get that. I am not happy about that but we need to be students first, let’s also make alternatives.”

Graduate and Professional Student Council President Clay Awsumb said it has been expressed to him and other campus leaders that there might be some financial hardship for the current resident assistants and the academic advisor assistants.

“We are looking into those concerns with the explicit interest to find the ways that we can mitigate any of the economic hardships that RAs and APAs in housing may be experiencing,” Awsumb said. “It is an ongoing process that continues to develop.”

Undergraduate Student Government President Toussaint Mitchell, said campus leaders are still taking time to discuss this policy shift and USG cannot offer comment at this time.

RA B said they understand the state of the university, and that’s why they aren’t asking for more money.

“What we get is already more than a lot of schools, we are just asking for the ability to have a second job,” RA B said. “We don’t want people to have to worry about their stipend being decreased because of just having that option. It is not fair to do this to our employees. It doesn’t show that you care.”

Staff reporter Kallie Cox can be reached at kcox@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @KallieC45439038.

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