Student Affairs reviews housing staff pay

Oct. 24, 2012, 2:15 a.m.

Salary information in a previous version of this article was reported incorrectly. 

Discrepancy most apparent between PHE, RA salaries

Salaries for student housing positions do not reflect the training and responsibility required for each position, according to many housing staff members, coordinators and Health Promotion Services (HPS). The discrepancy is most obvious in the pay gap between resident assistants (RAs) and peer health educators (PHEs).

Student Affairs is currently 18 months into a study on discrepancy in pay between staffing positions. According to Dean of Residential Education (ResEd) Deborah Golder, the study will be concluded this school year. Changes will not be implemented until ResEd, a sub-unit of Student Affairs, is able to survey stakeholders and gain support for new pay structures.

Under-compensation for PHEs is an ongoing problem that the Vaden Health Center and Carole Pertofsky, director of Health Promotion Services, have dealt with for years. Vaden and HPS have repeatedly submitted requests to the Vice Provost of Student Affairs for increased budgets in order to increase the PHE salary, Pertofsky said. Those requests have all been denied.

Golder agrees that housing staffs are an integral part of the Stanford residential experience and that the students’ commitments to their roles as staff members is not to be diminished, saying the discrepancy may be outdated.

“Compensation levels when they started, in my opinion, were probably accurate to what the roles were… but the work is not the same as what it originally was,” Golder said.

“The goal is to have the right people in the right places doing the right things for the right amount of pay,” said Jennifer Calvert, associate dean of ResEd.

However, according to reports from student staff members, that goal has not yet been met.

“I put in as many hours as a PHE in a freshman dorm as I do now as an RA for nine and a half times the salary I made last year,” said Tessa Smith ’13, a current RA in Kimball and former PHE in Stern.

RAs are paid the amount of 75 percent of their room and board tuition — a salary that averages to about $9,000 per year. PHEs are paid $1,000 a year.

Smith, along with PHE Coordinator Colin Campbell ’11, said that in terms of specialized training, time investment and responsibility, PHEs are on par with RAs and undoubtedly qualify for equal pay.

“The PHE program is really beneficial to residential education, and it is sad that so many qualified people will not or cannot consider being a PHE due to the low wage with the hours and commitment that the job requires,” Smith said.

The salary discrepancies exist, Golder said, because most staff members take on more responsibilities in the house than is in the letter of the job description.

“I think people come to residential work from an ethic of care and altruism and a desire to serve the community,” Golder said. “I have long been concerned that we are abusing that generosity, and that’s not ok.”

The staff hiring process is divided between departments relevant to each staff position, meaning that at minimum five different groups are hiring housing staff for any given year. Academic Computing Services hires residential computing consultants (RCCs), Residential Education (ResEd) hires row managers — community managers, financial managers, self-op kitchen managers, co-op managers and co-op kitchen managers — and RAs, ResEd and affiliated departments for themed houses hire theme house staffs, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Hume Writing Center hire resident tutors and resident writing tutors and iThrive at Vaden Health Center hires PHEs.

Charlie Fierro ’13, a current Kimball RCC and former Stern RCC, said that RCCs do more than their salaries suggest, particularly in freshman dorms.

Academic Computing Services pay RCCs in freshman dorms approximately twice as much as those in Row houses and apartment-style houses.

Despite the discrepancies in pay, Smith, Campbell and Fierro all agreed that there is no stigma among staff members based on pay. Fierro and his friends applied to be on in-house staffs because of the residents and the resident fellows (RFs), not for the monetary compensation.

A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that some student staff receive free housing and meal plans. No house staff members get free housing or meal plans. The article also stated that Peer Health Educators are paid roughly $2,000 per year. They are in fact paid $1,000 per year. Undergraduate Resident Computer Consultants are paid between $1,125 per quarter and $2,417. This means that the maximum RCC salary is roughly 7/9 of the salary of a Resident Assistant, not 1/4 of the RA salary as was reported in the article. RA salaries are approximately $9,000 per year depending on the house, as reported in the article. However, it was stated in the article that this is 75 percent of room and board. In fact, it is less than 75 percent. The actual percent depends upon exact pay for each house. The Daily regrets these errors.

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