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Res Life Explores Podium Pay Alternative

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Residential Life is hoping to determine the future of resident assistant pay before month’s end to replace the department’s long-standing stipend system.

Working with UAS, Residential Life is looking to break away from compensation by moving towards alternative methods of payment, such as partial-board remuneration; a system which would subsidize board fees for RAs.

Being in the early stages of research and development, details surrounding alternative payment methods are currently unavailable, Residential Life reported.

Partial-board for student workers in Residential Life is common in the SUNY system. Throughout the state, the University at Albany stands as the only SUNY campus to offer compensation for RAs.

But the overall push to restructure RA payment has not passed through Residential Life without controversy. Some RAs spoke against the change at staff meetings and met with university officials to discuss compensation concerns earlier this semester.

Multiple RAs declined to comment.

Charles Rogers, associate director of Residential Life, believes that a partial-board system would face less opposition with yearly turnover.

“They’re concerned because a lot of them are juniors and seniors,” Rogers said. “We believe over time it will be okay.”

If considered, Rogers said that a partial-board system would be superior to direct compensation by alleviating the debt load from residential frees for RA graduates.

Regardless of the final decision, Residential Life remains opposed to bringing back paychecks despite some RA dissent towards the change.  

“There’s a lot of implications for what we’re doing, so I’m in the process of researching what all of our options are,” Carol Perrin, director of Residential Life, said. “Paying them is just not an option.”

Future payment methods — to be evaluated by the Residential Advisory Board before Thanksgiving Break — are sought to ease concerns over RA compensation, which first emerged  under the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Because federal provisions guarantee health care to state employees working over 29 hours, some state assembly interns working in Residential Life (university employees are state employees) had their hours slashed to avoid costs.

In an effort to avoid cutting RA hours from internships, Residential Life started paying students working in both state positions through Podium; money transferred to a SUNY card.

Looking to avoid future conflicts with paychecks, Residential Life, in coordination with the Student Affairs budget office and human resources, decided to put all RAs under provisional Podium pay.

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Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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