Changes will be made next year in the Student Residence Life department. One-third of the resident assistants (RAs) will be cut for the 2012-13 school year.
The cuts are being made after Student Affairs and Student Life looked at the RA-to-student ratio at several other colleges and universities and concluded Mercyhurst University’s ratio was much too small. The current ratio for students to RA stands at 25-1 but will change to 48-1 when buildings are filled to capacity.
Many schools like John Carroll University and Westminster College have ratios in the 40s, and others like Allegheny College were found to have ratios in the 70s.
Cuts will mostly be made in the Briggs and Lewis apartment buildings where RAs will be reduced from two to one
for each building.
Warde Hall will be reduced from three to two RAs per floor, the Wayne Street apartments will have one RA per building and the Duval apartment RAs will be reduced from two to one per building. McCauley and Baldwin halls will remain unchanged, according to Vice President of Student Life Gerry Tobin, Ph.D.
This means there will be a reduction from 76 RA positions to 49.
“We’re not sure what the effect will be; it’s more of a social experiment,” said Tobin. “I see the primary role for RAs as the safety aspect.”
The decision was made to make fewer freshman cuts in consideration of disturbing their new community environment.
“I’m pretty upset about the cuts honestly. Next year will be my third year as an RA, and I can’t imagine how everything will run smoothly,” senior Ciara Wadding said.
A meeting between Tobin and the RAs was held last week to discuss the changes that will be put into effect next year.
A long question and answer session took place to answer the many concerns the current RAs had.
As an RA, one receives free room and additional compensation for the position.
The biggest concern was the additional workload that would be added since the amount of students they would be looking over would be almost doubled.
“While it’s unfortunate that the RAs will go down in number, it’s my feeling that as RAs are asked to take on more responsibilities, they will be forced to adapt and ultimately become better able to serve the students and the college,” senior Andrew Kopcienski said.
Several students expressed concern that since their workload was increasing, so too should their pay.
“If RA’s are as important of a role as the school conveys, then we should be looked upon as employees, therefore if our work increases, our pay should too,” Wadding said.
The transition is still being evaluated on how students will balance the work, but the job description change has been put on hold in order to obtain RA input from the students. Collaboration between the RAs and Student Life will take place to make the change easier.
“In reviewing the information, we’re looking at this as a one to two year experiment. We want to see how it goes. If it works, then great, and if not, then we are open to rethinking the decision,” Tobin said.
Current RAs should have few worries about losing their jobs, as they will have first priority for positions next year. As a result, few positions will be available to students who are applying to be an RA for next school year.