RAs demand better working conditions

betsy.wetsy

Last Tuesday, former Resident Advisor (RA) Randy Landerson of Van Antwerp Hall threw a couch out the window in what he described as a fit of frustration at his residents, who were using a slip-and-slide in the hallway. RAs across campus have responded to this expression of anger by rallying together in an effort to achieve better working conditions.

“We will not stand for this mistreatment,” said Lenda Harp, an RA in Hunt Hall. “We work tirelessly to make sure our residents aren’t setting things on fire, and it’s getting to the point where we can’t live this way anymore.”

Two days after Landerson’s episode, Harp called all RAs together for a meeting in the Payne-Halverson basement, which Harp later said will be their permanent meeting place, or ‘lair,’ as she called it.

“I think it’s really important that we have a single place to meet. And the basement is appropriate because it looks like a morgue, similar to our current situation as RAs,” Harp said. “Maybe we’ll spice it up as our needs are appropriately met.”

Out of this meeting, RAs formed the Coalition of Resident Advisors (CRA) and a list of demands. According to Harp, the CRA is an organization that represents the needs of RAs and is currently considering joining a union.

“It’s going to be hard to form a real union at this time,” Harp said, citing economic difficulties. “In the meantime, we’re raising funds for the creation of a 20-foot-tall monument to be placed in the Academic Mall. We want it to be a likeness of every RA on this campus.

“If that doesn’t raise awareness to our plight, then I don’t know what will,” she added.

RAs currently receive a large, single room, a constant meal plan that amounts to $1,897 per semester, and a stipend. This, according to the demands the CRA formulated, is not enough.

The formal requests the CRA completed are called the “RA Demands For Suitable Existing Conditions” (RAD4SEC).

RAD4SEC is composed of over 30 requests, including an increase in pay, a bobcat to act as the official RA mascot, slides to get from one RA room to another, a fire alarm silencer, brass knuckles and ‘free-passes’ to get out of doing rounds once a week.

Not a single RA on campus has opted out of joining the CRA, though most Resident Directors are unhappy about the group.

Many RAs feel relieved that they are finally being represented. Mona Wood, Gant Hall RA and vice president of the CRA, said this group has been a long time coming.

“I’m so proud to be a part of the CRA. I finally feel like important people are going to listen to the issues that we face, and maybe understand the hardship that we encounter on a daily basis,” Wood said. “Plus, we have an awesome motto. It’s the war cry for the CRA. CRAW CRAW CRAW!”

Two days after the CRA was formed, Harp and Wood approached Housing and Residence Director Karly Hall.

“Honestly, I laughed,” Hall said. “When I realized they were being serious, I sat down with the two and explained that I could get turtles to take their jobs.”

Wood and Harp defended their efforts after speaking to Hall.

“Karly doesn’t understand our issues. She’s never been an RA. She doesn’t know,” Harp said. “We have an appointment with (NMU President) Wes Long.”

Long had only one thing to say about the RAs list of demands being met: “Fat chance.”