According to Jennifer Calvert, associate dean of ResEd, the changes to the new hiring process were in response to feedback from Resident Fellows (RFs), the Resident Assistant (RA) Advisory Board, student staff and the student body.
Among the challenges prospective staff members faced last year was the different deadlines for RA, row manager and theme staff applications. The row manager application process had a later start date and an earlier deadline than both RA and theme staff applications. To ensure that prospective staff members are not forced to make a premature decision regarding which staff position to accept, all application and selection dates will coincide this year.
“We are committed to creating a user-friendly timeline that allows for flexibility in the process, but isn’t overly taxing to our RF or student community,” Calvert said in an email to The Daily.
In addition to creating a consistent timeline across all staff applications, ResEd is also introducing a new master-match program for prospective staff. Last year, many houses wanted to consider certain prospective candidates for multiple positions. However, due to the different deadlines for each position, matching candidates to specific positions proved unfeasible.
“In the past, because manager and theme positions were matched with houses at a different time than RA positions, applicants were ‘forced’ into a ‘false’ choice,” Calvert said. “Opening up the ability to apply across positions creates a greater level of flexibility.”
The introduction of the master-match process has received positive responses from student staff and RFs.
“ I think [the match process] gives staff more freedom to craft the best staff possible for the following year [by] choosing the individual staff members and where they will best fit on staff,” said Sara Silberstein ‘12, an RA in Kairos.
According to Christine Min Wotipka, an associate professor in the School of Education and the RF in EAST House, the new master-match process will help prospective staff members who have applied for multiple roles make an informed decision in choosing which position to accept.
“A few times we have had to scramble to fill vacant theme staff positions because most applicants accepted offers of RA positions,” Wotipka said in an email to The Daily.
Although Wotipka said she is “excited” for the new match process, she also noted that the change will diminish one benefit of the previous hiring process — the ability to assemble a staff team with complementing skills and personalities.
In addition to the changes to the staff selection process, co-terminal students will no longer be eligible to serve as dorm staff. While in the past co-term RAs were able to staff in upperclassmen dorms or Row houses, ResEd now requires that all applicants have another year of guaranteed housing at the time of application. ResEd cites the growing size of Stanford’s incoming classes as the impetus for this new requirement. By limiting staff positions to undergraduates, ResEd hopes to reduce the number of unassigned undergraduate students during the draw process, according to the announcement. While unassigned students from last year’s draw were eventually given housing, many of these students were assigned to off-campus or graduate housing.
“This [new policy] will allow us to keep our commitment to the overall undergraduate population by giving students with guaranteed years remaining priority over those who have already taken advantage of this benefit,” according to a prepared joint-statement ResEd staff wrote in an email to The Daily.
While the new rules for RA eligibility may reduce the number of unassigned students during the draw process, Silberstein described the new policy as an “unfortunate consequence of the housing shortage.”
“As a first-year RA, I really feel that all of my fellow Row RAs who are co-terming this year have a lot to contribute to the training process and to the community of Row members, let alone to their houses and staff– especially those who have RAed once or even twice before,” Silberstein said.
In addition to the changes listed above, ResEd will require RAs to enroll in a training class spring quarter. According to Calvert, ResEd staff and RFs have been working for years to establish the RA class and are developing the course’s curriculum, which will focus on “the complexities of leadership and emotional intelligence.”
“Our current training model allows for just a brief, cursory glance at these skills over an intensive timeline that does not lend itself to capacious learning,” Calvert said. “The RA class will allow for deep reflective thinking and the ability to practice skills.”
The spring-quarter course will most likely be two-units, and ResEd is currently working with the Bing Overseas Program (BOSP) to create a class option for RAs studying abroad spring quarter.
Some RFs, RAs and prospective RAs appear to be responding positively to the new RA class requirement.
“I think a great part of being an RA is the RA community you join,” said Tiffany Kung ‘13, who plans to apply this cycle to become an RA. “I’m definitely down to spend more time with people who love Stanford and am eager to be a part of the staff community.”
“I think [the class is] a good thing because [training] is not all crammed into such a short period,” said Matthaeus Weinhardt ‘13, a Toyon RA. “But on the other hand if people are taking it along with their other courses they might retain a lot less and forget a lot over the summer,” he added, raising one concern about the new requirement.
Some current staff take issue with the idea of a required transcript component to RA training.
“I feel strongly that making the two-unit course a requirement for the job is not the best direction to take,” said Daniel Scott Smith ‘12, the RA of EAST House, in an email to The Daily. “As I just checked my University bill, tuition is $13,350 per quarter. Does this mean that I am paying approximately $1,335 to be trained for a job? RAs are students primarily, and workers after that. As a prospective RA, I would consider this course potentially undermining my rights as both.”
Applications for student staff positions for the 2012-13 academic year will be made available on Nov. 18 and will be due Jan. 17.