With the COVID-19 outbreak greatly affecting everyone’s lives, it is no surprise that many students have experienced job insecurity as we transition to social distancing. However, it is of utmost importance for NC State students to stay together as a community and to speak out against systemic unfairness. In the large-scale move off campus, most resident advisors have stopped receiving the free housing and dining that comes with their employment, but are still required to work remotely in their positions. They still receive a stipend, but this in no way covers the entirety of what they should be receiving. Technician stands with frustrated RAs, and we urge University Housing to fully compensate these students for their work.
Previously, RAs were receiving the equivalent of approximately $14 an hour (counting housing and dining benefits), and working 20 hours a week. With hours cut in half, these students are now receiving as low as $4.50 an hour. While many RAs are still able to work remotely, it is outrageous that University Housing has refused to implement various equitable solutions. Why should these students be punished for something entirely out of their control?
This is especially concerning when considering that many departments across the university are giving their student workers paid leave. For instance, the Department of Academic and Student Affairs, the parent department of Technician, is paying part-time students for the hours they would normally be working, regardless of their abilities to work or reductions in hours. Members of Technician’s editorial staff have largely seen a reduction in hours, but our paychecks have remained consistent. This sends a message to us: our work is valuable, and our work is appreciated. This is not a message University Housing has sent its student workers.
An obvious solution for University Housing would be to increase the biweekly stipend RAs receive. A stipend amounting to a $4.50 hourly wage is abysmal, especially considering many student workers have said they are worried about food and housing insecurities. RAs are contractually promised dining and housing throughout the semester, so taking those major benefits away while forcing them to continue working for a wage that is less than half of their original contract value is insincere and unjust.
Another possible solution that University Housing could have implemented much earlier is allowing RAs to remain on campus. If University Housing had been proactive with compensations, they could have very easily worked with the rest of the university staff to include University Housing student workers as part of the students who can apply to stay on campus. This would have allowed student workers to continue benefiting from their dining and housing contracts through the remainder of the semester, alongside providing them with some stability in a time of economic turmoil.
An overwhelming majority of our editorial board felt it was imperative to show solidarity with the student workers at University Housing. Now more than ever, it is the time to stand with our peers. We urge University Housing to fully reimburse RAs for lost housing and dining benefits. A pandemic does not excuse University Housing or any institution to exploit workers for their benefit, and reparations need to be made.
This unsigned editorial is the opinion of Technician’s editorial board and is the responsibility of the editor-in-chief.