Written by: Questen Inghram
In the early morning hours of Friday, May 19, resident advisers received an email from Leonard Jones, director of University Residences, stating that he and other administrators will no longer be meeting with RAs about their demands. According to the Help WWU RAs Facebook page, the email was sent at 1:06 a.m., approximately six hours before their weekly meeting, scheduled for 7:30 a.m.
This came after an announcement on the Help WWU RAs Facebook page that some RAs would be holding a sit-in Monday, May 22, to demand that administrators make more commitments to address their concerns and to stop what the RAs perceive as the university stalling on implementing changes.
The sit-in will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the University Residence offices in Edens Hall 101. Eighty-five people said they will be attending as of Sunday, May 21, according to the Facebook event page.
RA representatives from each residential community, two at-large RA representatives and AS board members have been meeting with Jones and Eileen Coughlin, vice president for enrollment and student services.
The meetings were held Friday mornings, and so far have discussed issues regarding compensation and training. They planned to discuss RA duties at the May 19 meeting.
“I feel that the collaborative work of our RA Working Group has concluded. Thus, I respectfully inform you that Vice President Coughlin and I will not be attending any further RA Group meetings. I look forward to continuing to work with you to provide high quality campus residential experience for our students,” Jones’ email said.
The email also detailed commitments and changes made by University Residences:
- RA and Community Adviser (who are responsible for Birnam Wood) stipends will increase from $731 to $2,760, including compensation for training
- Pre-fall quarter training will be reduced from 10-hour days to Eight-hour days
- The Director of University Residences hopes to enhance open communication and with RAs and CAs
- Inclusion of RAs in the interview process of relevant administrative positions
- Expansion RAs’ training on Title IX victimization and handling incident reports
In response, a letter written by the RA representatives involved in the meetings addressed to Jones and Coughlin was posted on the Help WWU RAs Facebook page on Saturday, May 20.
“This decision [to no longer attend the meetings] has left us representatives, as well as the communities that elected us, out of the conversation regarding some of the most critical portions of our list of demands such as social equity/inclusion, security and personnel and management,” the letter said.
The decision to discuss compensation and training first was made by administrators in order to finalize contracts and financial agreements for next year, but the RAs would have rather discussed issues related to social equity, inclusion and security first, according to the letter.
On April 7, RAs sent a letter to the administration with a list of demands, regarding issues of compensation, training, security, duties, social equity and inclusion, communication, and personnel and management.
An open forum hosted by RAs was held on April 17. Administrators including Jones, Coughlin, and President Sabah Randhawa answered questions from RAs about the issues and demands.
RAs handed out flyers in support of their movement on Saturday, May 20, during Back2Bellingham.