The Post: Residential Housing increases RA stipends and room coverage costs for next school year

Ohio University’s Residential Housing assistants will see compensation packages increase by at least $1,000 next year, according to university officials.

Starting next semester, Residential Housing will pay for 100 percent of RAs’ room expenses, along with a 5 percent increase in their stipend.

“The raise is an important investment in our student staff that will add approximately $300,000 to our expenses,” said Pete Trentacoste, executive director of Residential Housing, in an email. “This is a great day for our department and our student staff.”

RAs on campus currently receive 90 percent coverage on room fees, as well as a stipend for being employed through the university.

“I think the 90 percent coverage and stipend was a pretty decently fair trade, but I fully support Residential Housing’s decision to increase coverage and the stipend,” said Abby Leppert, a sophomore studying marketing, accounting and photojournalism and an RA in Scott Quad, said in an email.

The individual pay rate for RAs depends on the number of years a student remains in the program.

Residential Housing expenses are covered with student room revenue, but the stipends and RA room scholarships come from the department’s budget, Trentacoste said.

Compensation was a concern cited in a 2014 survey with RA staff members, Trentacoste said.

In 2006, RAs received 50 percent room coverage costs, and by 2009 room coverage costs amounted to 90 percent of the total package.

Residential Housing will also be adding 29 additional assistant resident director positions for next year.

“We heard that at times it was hard to balance having a floor section, while also providing support for the building,” Trentacoste said. “We believe this new position will better support residents, fellow staff members, and supervisors.”

Student Senate has been petitioning for higher wages for student workers since Fall Semester.

“I’m really glad that they’re responding to the needs of the RAs, but I think that they deserve a lot more,” Senate Vice President Caitlyn McDaniel said. “I think that the reason this is happening is because student worker rights have been made an issue on this campus.”

Christina Dulovich, a sophomore studying management information systems and finance, said next year’s raise is not the only reason she’s decided to remain an RA, but that it is a welcome bonus. “Having this increase in our pay and accommodations really shows to me that the school appreciates the residential assistant staff and is conscious of our needs,” Dulovich, an RA in her second semester working in Washington Hall, said in an email. “As a student employee, this increase does affect me in a positive way. It really lets me appreciate that the school cares for its students and its student employees.”

No current positions within Residential Housing were cut to fund the raise, as management efficiency has improved over the last several years, Trentacoste said.

Being an RA has some perks, despite the long and often unexpected hours.

“The amount of money I’ve saved on overall college expenses by being an RA has given me the chance to study abroad for a few weeks,” Leppert said, “which would’ve been a struggle to afford otherwise.”

Maygan Beeler contributed to this report.

This story also appears on The Post