Residential Life has announced that live-in community assistants (CAs) may have roommates, as they will no longer be guaranteed single rooms.
Last semester, Binghamton University’s Residential Life announced changes to the resident assistant (RA) system in order to decrease the workload placed on RAs – with the new model rolling out next year. Around 300 new hourly student roles were created to perform tasks formerly handled by RAs. CAs and student support assistants (SSAs) will fulfill the current live-in role of RAs on campus, but unlike RAs, CAs do not have the benefit of single rooms.
Casey Wall, director of Residential Life and Housing, developed this new system along with her team as an update to the previous model. In the original system, RAs reported being assigned a multitude of additional responsibilities, causing many students who have held the position in the past to quit due to burnout, according to a survey conducted by Residential Life.
SSAs — who will still be given single rooms — will focus on conflict resolution within communities, connecting students with campus resources and advertising community activities to students. CAs will have more of a hands-on role with students through having one-on-one conversations and fostering a sense of community within their building, according to Wall.
“The role of the Community Assistant will be to help connect their residents to their residential college community and the campus community at large,” Wall wrote in an email. “They will also support residential initiatives and traditions.”
These revisions to the Residential Life student staffing system come with changes to the benefits of the position as well. Many CAs will now have roommates and need to share a bathroom, a contrast to the RA role, of which single rooms were a longstanding benefit.
Wall addressed the change to the roommate policy, and said this adjustment has not significantly impacted the number of candidates interested in the CA positions.
“Traditionally, RAs have been given a single room because of the sensitive nature of their jobs and being able to have a private space to meet with students,” Wall wrote. “In this new model, they will still get housing as part of their compensation, but that room is not necessarily a single room. Hundreds of students applied for the community assistant position, so we have been able to fill all of the positions.”
CAs and SSAs will still be given free housing. CAs are given the option to pull in a roommate on the condition that the roommate is an on-campus resident during the spring 2023 semester. Roommates pulled in through this process do not have to complete room selection and will be directly assigned to the CA’s room.
If a CA decides not to pull someone into their room, they will be given a random roommate who is either a new student or a student on the housing waitlist.
Taylor Scantlebury, a freshman majoring in biology, expressed concern about the new roommate policy.
“I feel that the change is pretty unfair because one of the main reasons people become RAs is because of the benefits and access to college,” Scantlebury said. “Forcing the new positions to have roommates is unfair because they work hard to have events, and they deserve to reap the rewards of their hard work.”
Hannah Gross, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, commented on the structure of pricing under the new model.
“I’m curious to see if they’ll lower the price of the room for the roommate since RA suites are usually small,” Gross said. “It would make the school more money by having another student in the RA suite. It’s nice to have a free room, but the privacy is also taken away. Being an RA is a common thing in college and changing the system is kind of ruining the experience.
Editor’s Note (3/30/23): A previous version of this article stated that both community assistants (CAs) and student support assistants (SSAs) will not be guaranteed single rooms. Only CAs will not be guaranteed single rooms. The article has been updated with the correct information.