Some RAs ‘caught off guard’ by anonymous email demanding change



Rose Wagner

It was a Saturday evening and, while many students prepared for a night out, Kris Bradley, Carrollton Hall’s senior resident assistant, found herself confined to her dormitory. Her job required she remain in the building for 24 hours — from 5 p.m. that night to 5 p.m. the next day.

Bradley, a music therapy junior, was allowed a break from noon to 2 p.m. during her weekend shift. Still, she felt frustrated. Though she has spent nearly two years as an RA, she had never before heard of the residential life policy and did not understand why it was only now being enforced.

Therefore, when Bradley woke up Halloween morning last semester to an anonymous email of job frustrations RAs were experiencing, the senior RA said she was startled but not entirely surprised.

“Below is a list of grievances compiled by the Residential Assistants of Loyola University New Orleans for the 2018-2019 academic year,” the email stated. “Moving forward, we aim to resolve all issues addressed in this list to provide the Residential Assistants of Loyola University New Orleans with the environment necessary to succeed in their roles as dynamic student leaders.”

The email claimed to have been written by a group of RAs and relayed, in bullet-point format, their list of job complaints. It was sent to all RAs on staff and Amy Boyle, director of residential life.

The email argued that the 75-block-meal, 500-Wolf-Buck meal plan given to RAs contributed to food insecurity among student leaders. It declared the requirement of RAs to fulfill “other duties as assigned” throughout the year is unclear and unfair. The email also requested a time limit to be set on weekly meetings, that RAs receive holiday pay for Halloween, that senior RAs who are given more responsibilities than their colleagues receive added benefits and that RAs be allowed to spend time in Monroe Library while on duty.

“These grievances were no secret to me,” Bradley said. “I can’t say I agreed with everything, but I also can’t say that I disagreed with everything that was in the email.”

Bradley did have issues, though, with how the email was presented.

“I definitely had some of that frustration that I wasn’t consulted and that other RAs weren’t being consulted when the email was drafted,” Bradley said. “I don’t think it’s one individual’s right to speak for everybody.”

Izzy Martinez, Biever Hall’s senior resident assistant, and Hernan Espinal, a Biever Hall RA, said, in a statement on behalf of the Biever Hall residential staff, that they had a similar reaction to Bradley’s.

“We were kind of all caught off guard,” said Martinez and Espinal, biology and marketing seniors respectively. “Our Biever Hall staff is pretty close so we kind of all knew that if one of us wrote it, we would tell each other.”

“I don’t agree with the tone it was written in,” Martinez added. “I think it was pretty aggressive. However, everything in there is very valid.”

Boyle responded to the anonymous email by calling a town hall meeting between RAs and Loyola’s Office of Residential Life.

“To me, that [meeting] shows that our concerns were noticed and that the department was concerned about RAs bringing up these grievances,” Bradley said.

After the meeting, residential life agreed to allow RAs on duty to spend time in the library or other campus buildings until midnight, at which point they must return to their dorms. The meeting also resulted in a new policy allowing student leaders to receive the 75 block meals of their meal plan as Wolf Bucks.

“Job expectations have not necessarily changed. RAs must fulfill the obligations as identified in their employment contracts,” Boyle said. “We did, however, adjust some processes required in order to fulfill their roles and are also reviewing other job-related items.”

However, not all RAs felt their voices were heard.

“One of the main issues in there was food insecurity,” Espinal said. “From the day that we have the meal plan, when we are supposed to start feeding ourselves after training, to the day that we are dismissed, it is about one meal a day depending on the average cost of a meal using Wolf Bucks.”

Martinez and Espinal suggested disappointment has surrounded results of the town hall, but both hope further action will be taken.

“We should recognize that res life does have a limited budget in terms of what they can provide to us. And while Amy did take the time to meet with us, I think that she also has limitations as to what she can provide,” Espinal said. “We would like to see our director, who is our main boss, take this upon herself and bring it to finance or the president and fight for us, which we don’t really see.”