University of Kentucky RA's Demand Better for Their Residents

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The University of Kentucky has overbooked its rooms for the incoming freshmen for academic year 2019-2020. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this situation has occurred. It also occurred in 2015 and 2014. When it has occurred previously, RA's have been required to live with freshmen students. This is an ideal situation for neither the resident nor the RA.

The university is currently working on a plan to utilize community study spaces as "overflow housing." Instead of receiving the room promised to them by housing, some residents will be receiving converted study rooms.

In addition, RA's will no longer be provided with their own rooms. These spaces too will be converted to accommodate more students. RA's work extremely hard to balance a rigorous academic schedule, their job, and other extra-curricular activities. RA's are expected to represent with distinction the University of Kentucky at all times, on and off campus, only receiving a reprieve in the sanctuary of our own rooms.

An individual room also provides RA's with a space to have private conversations with residents. These conversations are sometimes extremely personal and necessary for the safety and well being of our students. Although it is advertised and expected that RA's will be given their own rooms, this will likely not be the case. Of greater concern is the risk of power dynamics between the RA and their Resident/Roommate, that this resident's privacy will be violated, that other resident's privacy may be violated. This list goes on.

Of equal frustration is the current communication style exhibited by our leadership. Leadership has known about the overbooking situation since earlier in the summer, and instead of communicating this information with their RA's, they purposely neglected to tell us about the situation with the vast majority of RA's only being informed after an anonymous message was released in an email blast. Instead of coming clean with their staff, our leaders continue to keep us from information we deserve to know about our jobs.

To make matters worse, RA's are expected to return from training on August 7, 2019. We were supposed to confirm our commitment to our position by July 19, 2019. It is now July 20th and we still have yet to be told what our job expectations will be.

As your University of Kentucky RA's, we work extremely hard to keep our students safe and to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment to students from all backgrounds. We deserve to know how campus leadership is changing our position. We deserve to be told this information before it is too late for us to make other arrangements if we find our new requirements unacceptable. We deserve to be provided the accommodations we require to best serve our residents. And our residents deserve the accommodations they paid a significant amount of money for.

University of Kentucky Campus Leaders and their corporate housing partners, you have the power and the responsibility to correct this mistake. The burden should not be transferred to your dedicated and loyal employees.

From our position, we see the university's options as:

  • Coordinate with other partners to place all the overflow students off campus 
  • Move the overflow students into a currently non-operational building
  • Move the graduate students currently living in Roselle Hall into the Graduate component of University Flats giving them the same rate they paid for Roselle and move the overflow students into Roselle Hall
  • Move forward with the plan outlined above

There are likely other options, but one thing is certain: Resident Advisors living with their Residents is a recipe for disaster. Your University of Kentucky Resident Advisors are asking that an accountability system be created with UK Housing and the University of Kentucky's corporate partners so that when problems like this occur, it does not adversely effect our students.

Best Regards,
A Concerned RA