The Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) have launched a “Save the RAs Compensation” Petition.
In October 2022, the department of Residential Life at Binghamton University announced that the Resident Assistant (RA) role will be terminated for the 2023 to 2024 academic year. A new student staff structure will be replacing the position, which consists of newly-created student roles that divide tasks previously assigned to the RA. In response to doubts about student staff compensation, YDSA organized a petition to demand that the new student staff be offered the same compensation as current RAs.
The current compensation plan includes free single room housing and a free C-level meal plan for RAs. With the new changes, the Residential Life will split RA duties into separate roles that are compensated through hourly wages, with live-in accommodations offered for only three of the new roles.
YDSA wrote in an email that the petition was created through a collective effort by their members. They stated their intent was to “gauge support for our demand that the [Residential Life] student staff should be compensated justly.”
“An issue like this requires a large base to put pressure on the University to put money into their hardworking staff,” YDSA wrote. “We hope that students can come together on this issue to ensure that all future [Residential Life] staff are compensated adequately for the labor they provide this University and for the support they provide to our student body.”
According to B-Engaged, YDSA is a socialist organization where campaigns are presented to represent a society built by working-class individuals. YDSA fights for changes that undermine the foundations of capitalism while fighting against all forms of oppression, according to the club. The petition has been shared on social media with other organizations, and with its soft launch in the fall has gained over 100 signatures.
YDSA expressed hope that increased recognition this semester will help steadily grow that number
“Most of us have also never worked somewhere that we could influence our pay, benefits or contract,” YDSA wrote. “We also only work in our campus jobs for a few short semesters. This makes us vulnerable to certain work conditions like low pay, low promotions, packed schedules, lack of benefits and more. We hope that students can learn how essential our labor is to keeping this campus running. We hope the University sees that students are paying attention and we realize how we deserve to be treated at work, even if they are short shifts and temporary positions.”
No petitions for the future are planned yet, but the YDSA encouraged interested students to join them at their meetings or sign the petition so they can get in contact with those interested in preserving RA compensation.
Kerry Weng, a undeclared sophomore, said he finds the petition as an exciting way to fight against capitalism on campus.
“I think it is fair to ask for the same level of compensation that the current RAs receive,” Weng said. “The school lowering the compensation seems selfish and unjust, especially for those students who rely on these compensations.”
Joshua Cao, a freshman majoring in economics, suggested the change may affect his future plans.
“I didn’t even know that they lowered compensation for the new student staffers,” Cao said. “Me and a couple of my friends were actually thinking about applying for the position because dorming and meal plans cost too much. But it looks like the school is barely offering anything to the new Residential Life workers.”