Stony Brook University RA Statement of Understanding Addendum Creates Health Risks

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Upon viewing the Resident Assistant contract recently sent out, we have come to the conclusion that we are not content with the measures that are being taken to shield Resident Assistants (RAs) and the residents they will be interacting with from exposure to COVID-19. RAs will be exposed to a significant number of students on a regular basis due to the nature of their occupation, and subsequently could potentially become the most dangerous carriers of the virus if they contract it. As such, we wish to propose amendments to the job expectations listed within the contract to limit RA and resident interactions as much as possible in the interest of the general welfare of the residential community. Considering the extenuating circumstances of this pandemic, Campus Residences would be remiss to prioritize carrying out their traditional regulations over protecting students from exposure to this potentially fatal virus.


Complaints 

  1. Having regular Health and Safeties goes directly against effective social distancing (RAs didn’t do this along with duty and check in in the spring). This is quite dangerous, especially to those who may be immunocompromised, as there is no way for RAs or RHDs to know with certainty that residents are/aren’t infected with COVID-19 due to HIPPA guidelines.
  2. There has been a lack of transparency with the RA expectations for the Fall 2020 semester and people were not given the chance to voice their concerns on these matters.The Resident Assistant Statement of Understanding Addendum on 8/6/20 which has to be signed by 8/9/20 and failure to do so would mean waitlist placement. (Note: this is only 5 days before RA training)
  3. Unpaid work in the Quad Office or in the RRC.
  4. There are no explicit restrictions for the use of the college office (such as how many residents can be in the office at a time). 

Demands

  1. Limit Resident Assistants interactions with residents

         a. No more in-person health and safeties
    Health and safeties can be done by calling the residents via zoom and having the resident walk through their room/suite with the camera on.

              i. Any violations found during this health and safety will be documented and any refusal of a resident to not show portions of their room (except for of course closets etc) when asked will result in a write-up 

              ii. If an item does not meet the housing terms and conditions the resident will have to place it outside their suite door or bring it to the RA office following the health and safety. 

         b. When residents are experiencing facilities issues

              i. They must first take a picture of the issue and show it to the RA on duty/ Call the RA on duty via Zoom

              ii. Make it clear that if RAs enter a room, residents must wear a mask.

         c. No more than one resident in the college office at a time
  2. No newly appointed administrative duties without pay

         a. These duties normally fall on Office Assistant and RRC staff, and are paid positions. To require RAs to perform these newly appointed tasks without any compensation is exploitative in nature as they cannot refuse the work or else they will be placed onto the RA waitlist for the Spring 2021 semester.

              i. Since they didn’t account for these responsibilities in their schedules, it is difficult to make the decision in the short time frame that was provided.

While we concede that there is a need to verify that our private residences are up to standard, we feel that having an RA carry out these checks brings up a number of logistic health concerns. As stated above, RAs come into contact with many residents due to the nature of their job, therefore increasing their chances of contracting the virus, especially if they are going into other people’s rooms as well for Health and Safeties. Although we understand that these searches are conducted in order to prevent general hazards and promote overall health within the community, we feel that the risk of spreading COVID-19 should take priority over these comparatively less likely threats. 


URGENT: This must be addressed before 8/9/2020 for an effective change to be made. This is the date by which RAs are to sign their new list of expectations or face being demoted to the RA waitlist for the Spring 2021 term.