RA Blackmail Plot Grinds Hall Closing to a Halt

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by Lilian Kershaw
Freelance Writer

"We've been clear," said RA representative Layton. "If they try to hold us too closely to our contracted closing duties, we'll mix all the collected room keys in one box."

Resident Assistants at Rae College continue their 10-day intentionally deficient performance in protest of what they call “Dickensian work conditions.”

Crispin Layton, president of the RA Council, said during yesterday’s press conference, “Unless the administration in Res Life meets our demands, we refuse to follow the established move-out procedures. We will throw all of the keys into one box, we will allow the residents to leave trash in the halls and we will write ‘OK’ and draw an arrow down the ‘move-out’ column on the room condition form even if the rooms aren’t okay at all.” Layton says that the RA Council seeks overtime pay in addition to the customary free pizza provided at the front desk.

When asked for a statement, Victoria Mendoza, director of residence life, said, “We would love to pay the RAs overtime, but we simply can’t afford to do so. What the RA Council doesn’t understand is that their demands fly in the face of 50 years of tradition. RAs are never paid fully for their work during closing. Never have been and never will be.”

Mendoza also said that the RA Council’s actions will make it impossible to hold residents accountable for damages to the rooms and will deprive the department of a critical source of revenue. “I need an upgrade on my office furniture and if we don’t have damage charges, that money will just have to come out of the programming budget. I can’t live with this floral print one more year.”

The RA Council feels confident that an agreement will be reached soon.

“We hold all the power here,” said Layton. “If it weren’t for the RAs, closing would never happen the way it’s supposed to. Really, our work ethic problem is the administration’s fault. Most of us haven’t worked the number of hours per week we were supposed to, and they’ve taught us that we wouldn’t be held accountable. What are they going to do – fire all of us? I don’t think so.”

A high-ranking administrator in the residence life office confirms that the department really doesn’t have anything to use as leverage against a continued protest. “HR has told us that the only reference we can provide is a verification of employment. We can’t mention anything about the staff members’ performance. We’ve always hoped that an appeal to their sense of perfectionism and guilt would work. This year, it didn’t.”

With close to 300 students moving out in a few days, Mendoza says she is feeling the pressure.

“The president of the college is calling me every day, asking what I’m doing to solve this. I don’t know what to tell her. Money doesn’t grow on trees.” In an attempt to ease tensions, Mendoza has charged her staff to find creative solutions. “We’re having a t-shirt printed that says ‘I survived Move Out 2011 and all I got is this lousy t-shirt.’ College students love free t-shirts, so we hope that works.”