After organizing throughout the spring and summer to demand changes to their compensation, Resident Advisers at CC and SEAS will now receive a different pay structure for the 2022-23 academic year, thanks to a new policy change.

On Tuesday, July 26, Resident Advisers in CC and SEAS learned of a change to their compensation model for the upcoming semester. According to an email from Columbia College and SEAS, all Columbia RAs will be eligible to receive a $13,000 honorarium per academic year for their role as Resident Advisers beginning Fall 2022. The full text of the email is attached below.

Under the new compensation model, all RAs will be compensated equally—with a $13,000 honorarium—regardless of how much financial aid they receive. Additionally, the cost of housing will now be charged on each student’s tuition bill as part of their cost of attendance. 

Previously, RAs received a stipend of $1000 per year, with the cost of upperclassman housing waived from each RA’s bill for tuition, room, and board. Housing costs for RAs were waived altogether, while each RA’s financial aid status affected the amount of compensation they received for their work. 

At that time, students receiving no financial aid had the estimated cost of housing deducted from their tuition bill, while students who received financial aid that covered the cost of their housing did not receive a discount. According to Tuesday’s email, students’ current financial aid awards for the 2022-23 academic year will be updated accordingly.

For the 2022-23 academic year only, Resident Advisers will have the option to choose whether to receive their compensation based on the new system or the previous policy. Students who opt into the previous compensation policy will still have their housing cost waived and receive a $1,000 stipend for the year. After the 2022-23 year, Residential Life will transition completely to the new compensation model for all RAs.

These changes come after several months of organizing on the part of the Columbia Resident Adviser (CURA) Collective, which called for changes to multiple facets of the Resident Adviser program. In April and May, the CURA Collective met to discuss RAs’ frustrations and wrote an open letter petition, which they circulated throughout the Columbia community during May and June. Ultimately, CURA’s efforts resulted in a series of meetings in July between Resident Advisors and Residential Life with the goal of reaching an agreement and organizing ongoing collaboration between the RAs and Residential Life. The disparities in payment under the previous compensation system were one of CURA’s main areas of discontent, and one of its primary goals in organizing was to seek change in the compensation policy so that all RAs receive equal payment no matter their financial aid status.

Email sent to CC/SEAS 2022-23 RAs from Columbia College and Columbia Engineering on July 26 at 12 pm:

Dear CC/SEAS 2022-23 RAs,  

We are writing to inform you of a policy change regarding the compensation model for student leaders serving as CC-SEAS Resident Advisers (RAs). Beginning fall 2022 all CC/SEAS RAs will be eligible to receive an honorarium of $13,000 per academic year (or $6,500 per term) for their student leadership position. Accordingly, under this new model, the cost of housing will now be charged on each student’s account bill. For the 2022-23 transition year only, CC/SEAS RAs will be offered the choice of the new policy or the prior policy model (as explained in more detail below).

Under the prior policy, the housing cost for all RAs was waived (that is, not included on a student’s account bill) and each RA was provided a $1,000 payment. This approach resulted in variations in benefits, depending on a student’s financial aid status. 

Under the new policy, all RAs regardless of their financial aid status will be compensated in the same way. All will receive the $13,000 honorarium in two installments per semester, for a total of four installments over the academic year. Because housing will be charged on each student’s bill, the cost of attendance will not be lowered, and therefore, cost of attendance and financial aid awards will not be affected by whether the student holds an RA position. Any previously issued financial aid award letters for fall 2022 will be updated to reflect this policy change for students who elect the new policy. 

Recognizing that this policy change comes after you accepted the RA position back in spring 2022 you will have the option of choosing whether you would like to receive the RA compensation under the prior policy (housing cost waived, $1,000 payment) or the new policy (housing charged on your student bill, $13,000 honorarium). You will need to select your option by Tuesday, August 2. Residential Life will follow up with more details. This option is a one-time opportunity for the 2022-23 RAs. The new policy as stated will be in place for all 2023-24 RAs. 

We are committed to your development in your role as a student leader. We are confident that the RA position offers a unique campus leadership opportunity that will provide you with valuable transferable skills in the areas of programming, mentoring, crisis management and time management. This honorarium is in acknowledgement of your dedication to building community in the residence halls and supporting your fellow undergraduates.  

We understand that you may have questions about this policy change and what it means for you individually from a financial perspective. Later today you will hear directly from Residential Life and for financial aid applicants, from Financial Aid and Educational Financing as well with more information. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of these resources in those offices and to consult and share this information with your family to ensure you are fully informed about the policy change. 

We value your contribution to the CC/SEAS undergraduate community and look forward to your leadership in our residence halls. We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.  

Columbia College and Columbia Engineering

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