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Residential Life student staffers receive pay raise

Student staffers’ stipends increase up to 40.7 percent after administrative evaluation

By
Senior Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

After months of assessment, the University increased Residential Peer Leaders’ stipends for the 2017-18 school year.

For the past year, the Office of Residential Life, Brown Center for Students of Color and Sarah Doyle Women’s Center have been discussing “if the compensation that we are providing was a reflection of the effort (RPLs) were putting in and the job responsibilities that they had,” said Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students Mary Grace Almandrez.

The Community Advisor’s stipend increased 14.3 percent from $3,451 to $3,945, the Minority Peer Counselor’s stipend increased 31.1 percent from $4,000 to $5,245, the Residential Peer Counselor’s stipend increased 20.3% from $3,500 to $4,210 and the Women Peer Counselor’s stipend increased 40.7% from $3,500 to $4,925.

Stipends increase every year, but a clear evaluation of the responsibilities of each RPL position “hadn’t been done extensively until this year,” Almandrez said.

Upon evaluation, administrators saw that the responsibilities of some positions had changed. For example, women peer counselors now receive more formal support from the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, according to Almandrez.

The University also offered pay raises to the Summer@Brown staff this past summer after weeks of protest, The Herald previously reported. The pay raises came from the School of Professional Studies, which oversees Summer@Brown. The two sets of pay raises were evaluated independently through different processes, Almandrez said.

“The titles seem similar between the summer and the academic year, but the responsibilities are significantly different,” which leads to the different compensation levels, said Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Eric Estes.

RPLs have been asking for a pay raise “for a while because other RAs at other schools get free housing, and the amount (RPLs) get paid does not cover housing at Brown,” said Montana Fowler ’19.

“I think the pay raise was the starting point in recognizing (and) legitimizing the high level of commitment that MPCs have,” said Nicole Comella ’19. “It’s really good progress.”

Despite the raise, Fowler thinks her stipend is “still underpaying compared to what most RAs get on average around the country.”

Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Penn and Cornell all provide free housing for their residential advisors along with other forms of compensation, according to the universities’ respectives websites. Yale provides a full room credit for some of its advisors and a partial room credit amounting to $6,132 for others, according to Yale’s website.

Room fees are $8,784 at Brown, over $3,000 more expensive than the highest level of residential life compensation.

In addition to these pay raises, all ResLife staff members will now report to Almandrez instead of various University departments. This change is a result of an “organizational restructure within the division,” Almandrez said. “Residential Life, SEAS, Student Conduct and Community Standards as well as Student Support Services now report to the Dean of Students.”

Residential Life was previously grouped with other departments, but  this new “configuration made sense given the responsibility of those different departments,” Almandrez said. “We are currently searching for an assistant vice president to oversee the students center as well as student activities.”