Developing Community Through Discussions of Floor Living
Developing community through discussions of floor living guidelines and the code of student conduct; documenting violations of the code; integrating new students; conducting meetings; serving as a role model.
- Resource and referral agent: Communicating information about the university, dormitory events and regulations.
- Crisis intervention: Responding to crisis situations and following protocols.
- Administrative duties: Assisting in opening and closing the residence hall; assisting with student check-in and check-out processes.
- Staff meetings and coverage: Attending staff, ARD/RD meetings; adhering to night, weekend and on-call coverage schedules.
- Training: Participating in required training programs.
- Performance appraisals: Attending bi-monthly, mid-year and end-of-year evaluation meetings with ARDs and/or RDs.
- General: Being conscientious regarding availability; adhering to substance abuse and alcohol policies (UMass Amherst, 2010d).
6 © 2011 society for Human resource management. patrick p. mcHugh, ph.D.
In 2002, applicants for an R A position had to be enrolled in a degree-granting program; have lived in a residence hall for at least one semester; be free of judicial sanctions; and have a 2.4 grade point average (GPA). After meeting these criteria, applicants were selected through a multi-step process culminating in an interview with Residence Life staff (Board of Trustees, 2002). A 2.2 GPA was required to maintain the position.
Once hired, R As were required to sign a job description and an R A Memo of Understanding (MOU). The MOU outlined the terms and conditions of the position including compensation, work hours, GPA standards and several other requirements.
The 2010 R A MOU stated:
“I, indicate by my signature below and by my signature on the attached Resident Assistant Job Description, my acceptance of the R A position and my acceptance of the following conditions of employment:…. I agree to abide by any and all regulations of the Personnel Office, Student Employment and Financial Aid Office regarding employment; including the requirement that I am enrolled in a degree- granting program and carry a minimum of six credits (UMass Amherst, 2010c).”
An R A who had worked for at least two semesters, was enrolled in a degree-granting program, had maintained a 2.2 GPA and was free of university judicial sanctions could be considered for a CDA position. The CDA acted as a mentor to R As in activities such as programming, the use of campus resources and assisting R As in units where there were problems. CDA compensation and other work-related requirements were identical to those of R As (Board of Trustees, 2002).
human resource PoLicies for ras and cdas
R As and CDAs were required to arrive on campus several days before the beginning of the fall and spring semesters for mandatory training and building preparation. The position required about a 20-hour-per-week time commitment. As shown in Exhibit B, R As’ and CDAs’ compensation in 2001-2002 included a stipend of $1,710 for the academic year, a waiver of the double-room residence hall fee and a waiver of telecom and Wellness Center fees. Federal and state income taxes were deducted from their weekly paychecks (Board of Trustees, 2002).
RDs maintained personnel files for R As and CDAs and were considered their direct supervisors. RDs and ARDs often met with R As and CDAs to review performance. R As and CDAs who violated disciplinary guidelines were subject to a progressive disciplinary procedure.
Progressive discipline refers to increasingly severe penalties (e.g., oral warnings, written warnings, suspension and discharge) corresponding to repeated offenses committed by an employee. It indicates the seriousness of repeated rule infractions and provides the opportunity to correct behavior before being discharged. Certain offenses (e.g., assaulting a co-worker) may be so serious that discharge is required, making corrective action inappropriate (Holley et al., 2009, pp. 534-542).
© 2011 society for Human resource management. patrick p. mcHugh, ph.D. 7
In the 2000-2001 academic year, 15 R As were either terminated, suspended or not rehired due to infractions ranging from excessive absence from required meetings, serving alcohol to minors, illegal use of alcohol and drugs, and theft.
R As and CDAs could elect to continue in the position. Residence Life typically rehired them unless there was a performance problem, they failed to maintain a sufficient GPA, or they had a judicial sanction (Board of Trustees, 2002).
- This case is set in college dorms where RAs work. Does your college or university have dorms? Are they staffed with RAs or a position similar to RAs?
- Would you consider the RA position to be a job? Does this mean that RAs are employees of the university, or are they students? Why do you think that might be important?
coLLective bargaining on the umass amherst camPus
Public employees in Massachusetts (except police officers) were granted the right to join unions and to present proposals to public employers in 1958 (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2010). The law permitted public employees to join unions and allowed unions to present proposals to employers. There was no obligation, however, for public employers to engage in bargaining with these public employee unions. As a result, only a few unions were active at the UMass Amherst campus.
Collective bargaining rights for public employees were significantly enhanced by passage of Massachusetts General Law (MGL) in 1973, which granted full collective bargaining rights to most state and municipal employees. The law gave most public employees at the state, county and municipal levels the right to form, join or participate in unions; to bargain collectively over terms and conditions of employment; to engage in other concerted activities for mutual aid and protection; and to refrain from participating in any or all of those activities (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2010).
Collective bargaining allows organized groups of workers and their employers to resolve conflicting interests and to pursue agreement over common interests (Katz et al., 2008, p. 478). It is the process in which unions and employers negotiate contracts defining the terms and conditions of employment (Stewart & Brown, 2009, p. 513).
After this law passed, union representation grew significantly among various occupational groups on the university campus. The University Staff Association began representing nonexempt administrative, clerical and technical employees (University Staff Association, 2010). The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union represented the skilled trades, grounds, custodial, housing and food services employees (AFSCME Local 1776, 2010). In 1976, full-time and part-time faculty and librarians voted to be represented by the Massachusetts Society of Professors (Society of Professors, 2010). That same year,