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Sunday, May 16, 2021

RA sit-in: Live updates

We’ll be updating this page with updates from RAs’ sit-in all day. Check back here and on twitter for live updates. For background info check out RA sit-in: What you need to know.

4:05 p.m.

3:00 p.m. update (delayed)

People are doing their homework at the  RA Sit-In in Eden’s Hall 101. The hallways are full of students sitting on floors in support of the RA’s.
“I hope the administration would listen to the students,” Erick Yanzon, future AS vp for diversity, said. “From what I have been hearing they have been avoiding us and canceling meetings.”
Cora Cole, who is an AS board assistant hopes their relationship between administration and RAs can continue.

“I’m hoping the administration listens to what students are talking about,” Cole said. “Also,  the cooperative relationship they build will last into the next school year.”

Sometimes the administration pushed these issues off, Cole said.
“A lot of the time when the administration is talking to students, they talk about ‘We will do things differently next year,’ but hopefully that is going to happen,” Cole said.

Cole will be working in the representation office year and if noting gets done she will continue to work with the RAs next year.

1:30 p.m.

Here is the text of the email sent by President Randhawa to some RAs and members of the AS Board of Directors at 11:21 a.m., as provided by Paul Cocke, director of University Communication and Marketing. Cocke emphasized that President Randhawa’s message was not in response to the sit-in, but was echoing Leonard Jones’ prior email.

“Dear Resident Assistants,

I want to echo Leonard Jones’ thanks for your work to bring to our attention issues related to RA and CA compensation, safety, training and communication, among other elements.

Following the open forum I participated with you on April 17th, I have had the opportunity to meet with your representatives and receive several written communications from them on issues shared at the April 17 forum. What I heard from you and your representatives was that many of the issues have been raised previously, but that the administration has not been responsive in addressing them. Since the open forum, an RA workgroup regularly met with Leonard and Vice President Coughlin to better understand and work through those issues and I personally met with a smaller RA group to review progress. However, I was disappointed and at a loss about messages being continuously posted or distributed about “unresponsive administration”.

The actions shared with you by Leonard reflects mine and my administration’s commitment to hear your concerns and to resolve operational issues as expediently as possible. These actions have not been taken in a vacuum. Many of them follow conversations that Leonard has had with you and/or the RA workgroup. Others, like compensation, follow a comprehensive review of other public institutions in Washington and beyond, while also considering your input. Additional work is required to fully implement some of the actions, while completion of others will require targeted conversations with RAs and other relevant individuals on campus. Leonard and his staff will be following up to fully implement those items already committed and those requiring additional work and conversations (itemized on the first two pages of Leonard’s attachment). Finally, we will continue to work on more open communication with RAs, going forward in the new academic year.

Thanks for your understanding as we have worked through these issues to ensure a quality campus living experience for all students.

Sabah Randhawa


12:12 p.m.

RA’s have received an email from President Sabah Randhawa. More information to follow.

11:55 p.m. update

Crowd size is around 40 people.

Sophomores Xana Waughman and Anne Lee stand outside the entrance of Edens Hall, handing out posters and directing newcomers coming to join the sit in.

“A lot of people have classes during that 10 a.m. break and we just want to make it clear where people should come through, especially non-RAs who might not know where the entrance is,” Waughman said.

The pair is directing people to the office of Leonard Jones, director of University Residences. The sit in was planned in response to the administration raising the RA monthly stipend, but refusing to continue the open discussions they were having with RAs recently.

“Administration on Friday at 1:06 a.m. sent us a message and cancelled our future meetings,” Waughman said. “They raised our compensation and they seem to think that was the end of the line, but we have a lot of issues regarding security, sexual assault on campus, mental health and I think they thought if they would raise our compensation that we would just stop talking about it.”

Senior Grace Miller is attending the event to support the RAs, she said she works as a desk attendant in Kappa so she works closely with RAs.

“I’m sympathetic to what they [the RAs] are going through and I think that the administration should listen to what they are asking for because it’s a long time coming,” Miller said.

She also said she thought that a peaceful sit in was an effective way for the RAs to get their point across.

11:38 a.m.

The “Help WWU RAs” Facebook page is livestreaming from inside Eden’s Hall:

11:06 a.m.

11:03 a.m.

11:00 a.m. update

Western RA’s and student supporters are conducting a sit-in at the office of Leonard Jones, director of University Residences, in an attempt to continue a conversation on RA safety and university accountability that was shut down by Jones last week after a few weeks of dialogue between the RA’s and Western admins.

Senior Ben Morgan was passing out posters and pins outside Edens Hall before 10 a.m. with a growing group of about twenty students.

“We’ve been working on communication with the department and administration every Friday for the last couple of weeks. On early Friday morning at 5 a.m. we received a message that the remaining issues were not being covered and they were ending all discussion,” Morgan said. “This is us continuing that communication even though they’ve refused it.”  

Jones walked into his office in Edens Hall shortly after the RA’s and students entered the space, grabbed his coat, and walked back out the door. Jones is currently sitting down the hall behind the front desk while students remain in his office hoping for a chance to talk. Jones emailed them half an hour into the sit-in and cancelled on a staff meeting with the RA’s scheduled for tomorrow.

10:50 a.m

The “Help WWU RAs” Facebook page has published a letter to Leonard Jones, director of University Residences, who’s office they are currently occupying. They say they are frustrated by the decision to cancel weekly meetings between RA’s, Jones and Eileen Coughlin, vice president for enrollment and student services, to discuss issues raised raised by the RAs. They say they will continue to meet at that time and invite Jones and Coughlin to attend. Read the full letter below:

10:30 a.m.

RA’s have entered Eden’s hall.

RAs and supporters occupying Eden’s Hall 101. // Photo by Matthew Pearson

9:50 a.m.

Resident Adviser’s are meeting at 9:45 before heading in to Eden’s Hall 101, University Residences’ offices, where the sit-in is taking place, according to their Facebook page. They plan to remain there from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This diagram shows the area they plan to occupy.





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