Stop UC Davis from Abandoning Incoming RA's during COVID-19

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UC Davis Student
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TLDR: UC Davis Student Housing may take back offers for incoming RAs one month before training starts, leaving students with no housing and meal plan during COVID, as well as providing little resources and support for them in case this happens.

Due to increasing students canceling their housing contracts, Student Housing today (August 6th) sent out an email to its incoming student employees consisting of Community Advisors (formerly Resident Advisors), Apartments Community Advisors, and After Hours Assistants, stating that they are planning to reduce the number of student employees for the upcoming school year by approximately 50%. If not enough students withdraw voluntarily from the position, they will begin rescinding offers for the remainder of the employees. 

In exchange for their work in Residence Halls and Student Housing Apartments (averaging 19.5 hours/week), Student Housing Employees are provided either a double or single room and a 5 or 7 day meal plan. Offers were given in EARLY FEBRUARY. Students also enrolled in a mandatory one-unit class about the position and responsibilities in Spring Quarter. Now in early AUGUST, approximately ONE MONTH before required training begins and FIVE MONTHS after the pandemic began in March, we are told that our employment offers may be rescinded. 

Student Housing and Dining Services’s Statement of Ethics includes the following: “Be consistent and fair in our policies and practices”. It is not fair to notify students one month prior to their projected start date, that their job, housing and food for the upcoming school year may be taken away. This is the first time that they have notified us of this as well, which is inconsistent with their previous communications with us. By rescinding offers if not enough people withdraw, Student Housing is assuming that their employees have a stable, safe home as another option, an environment conducive to learning, financial stability, and food security. Ironically, instead of providing additional support and options for employees, they gave us the option to request a Student Housing contract, which is blatantly inconsiderate. Many students are drawn to the position for its financial benefits. Offering a contract to students who were planning on having covered housing costs is asinine, considering how expensive Student Housing is.  

It is understandable that not many employees are needed for a limited amount of incoming students. However, notifying us that our offers may be canceled with such short notice, and providing no other practical options is unacceptable. Living in Davis is expensive; one year of off-campus living costs may be up to $10,000 or more. It is wrong to assume that every rescinded student employee will have this much disposable income reserved to finance their living expenses, especially if they are low-income and/or rely on financial aid to fund their education. For those who have been under the assumption since FEBRUARY that their living expenses would be covered for next school year, this news is extremely stressful and does not give adequate time for low-income students to find other suitable options. 

Student Housing should NOT rescind employment offers and the benefits they have promised. This will go against their Statement of Ethics and abandon vulnerable students during COVID-19, contributing to food and housing insecurity that this pandemic has exacerbated. Instead, they need to provide feasible solutions that continue to support students they promised work, housing and food. For example, providing discounted rent for fewer work hours, finding additional responsibilities for employees to fulfill the work requirement, are just some options. Housing and food are not expendable for students, they are essential.