On Aug. 26, NC State released a statement instructing students to move out of their residence halls by Sept. 7 due to an increase of COVID-19 clusters on campus. Some students were able to stay if they received a special circumstances exception. During this process, many residential advisers (RAs) felt University Housing, their employer, did not communicate their employment and housing status well enough.
Two former RAs, who wish to remain anonymous, are no longer employed by University Housing but still live on campus. According to both RAs, University Housing did not tell RAs if they could remain on campus until after the deadline for special circumstance housing.
“One of the main issues with staying on campus was the deadline to apply,” one RA said. “They didn’t tell us that RAs didn’t have to pay for housing. They actually told us the exact opposite, up until three days after the deadline to stay.”
The second RA said they decided to stay on campus, because moving out of their residence hall was the equivalent of resigning and there was no guarantee of getting their job back in the spring.
The second RA also said moving home to family had its own set of obstacles, like the possibility of bringing back COVID-19 to her family, especially to their mother who has an autoimmune disease.
University Housing also failed to communicate with the community residential director in the second RA’s building, they stated, making it more difficult to determine what information was true and what was rumored.
Donna McGalliard, executive director for University Housing, responded and clarified University Housing’s communication tactics with RAs during move out. According to McGalliard, University Housing did not have enough information to make a decision about RAs living on campus, and they informed RAs as soon as they had information to share.
“We try to get information out just as quickly as we can because we want, not just our own staff but we want students and families to know so that they can make some informed choices as well,” McGalliard said. “Everybody has their own interpretation of what their communication needs are. So, you know, we're not gonna hit the mark on everything, that's for sure.
A total of five emails were sent to RAs from University Housing between June and August of this year, according to McGalliard. She said RAs were hearing directly from their supervisors in meetings during this time.
“We use multiple methods of communication,” McGalliard said. “We have centralized messaging, we have one-on-one messaging with their direct supervisor, and then we have staff meetings that their supervisors conduct for them.”
Meghan Luzader, interim director for residence life, said after the chancellor made the decision to remove students from housing and grant special exemptions to certain students, housing staff had to make decisions concerning RAs, like who could stay on campus for financial reasons or other circumstances, as well as how many RAs they could continue to employ.
Giving the RAs the option to stay on campus ultimately depended on which communities remained open, according to McGalliard.
“We have five communities that are still open, and the resident advisers that were in those communities were offered to stay,” McGalliard said.
The five residential communities that are still open are Avent Ferry Complex, the Tri-Towers, Wolf Ridge Apartments, Wolf Village Apartments, Western Manor Apartments and E.S. King Village.
According to Luzader, RAs who resigned for the fall semester will be able to return in the spring, dependent on how many students are living on campus. University Housing sent out an email Sept. 23 to gauge the number of students returning. Spring Connect students were sent the same email on Oct. 1.
More information about University Housing plans to reopen in the spring is available on their website.