Hazard Compensation for UNH RAs

Hazard Compensation for UNH RAs

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Brooklyn Brackett started this petition to UNH Students and

Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional responsibilities on the Resident Assistant (RA) role, including some that bring risks to the physical and mental wellbeing of RAs, and given that current “orange mode” restrictions have increased these responsibilities, risks, and placed additional restrictions impacting the wellbeing of RAs, we, the undersigned RAs of the University of New Hampshire, are requesting hazard compensation in order to help make up for the following risks, responsibilities, and stress we are enduring.

Throughout the fall semester, and continued into the spring semester, RAs have had to assume additional responsibilities that did not exist before the COVID-19 pandemic. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to enforcing mask policies, enforcing room capacities, and enforcing visitor policies, all in addition to past RA responsibilities, many of which have become more difficult (i.e. programming, resident engagement) due to the pandemic. These new responsibilities not only increase the workload of our job, potentially impacting our classes and private lives, but also pose serious risks to our physical and mental wellbeing. RAs have a serious risk of contracting COVID-19 while handling conduct situations, a risk only greater now as positive case numbers are spiking. While there are preventions that can mitigate some risk in these situations, many conduct situations involve intoxicated and belligerent individuals who only further endanger RAs. RAs have also struggled with the primary aspect of their job, fostering an inclusive hall community, due to the restrictions of COVID-19 that have limited the ways we interact with our residents, as well as the policies we have to enforce which further weakens our resident relationships.

In addition to these concerns, the recent move into orange mode of operations has further exasperated these issues as well as placing a further mental toll on RAs disproportionate to the on-campus population as a whole. In “orange mode”, we are expected even more than before to be constantly enforcing the University’s COVID-19 policies, which have drastically increased from yellow mode. The physical risks associated with the RA job as stated above have now increased greatly, as there are now 467 active COVID-19 cases among UNH students. Furthermore, the orange mode restriction on entering other residence halls is having a disproportionate impact on RAs who cannot choose where they live and are now isolated from seeing their friends and significant others in a private setting. In less than a week of orange mode restrictions (at time of this petition’s writing) RAs are already seeing a large impact to their mental health which can be debilitating to their performance in the job and in their classes.

While RAs across campus have assumed these additional responsibilities in good faith and a love for our jobs, the University has failed to give us additional support for the work we do, and the erosion of our wellbeing. In light of these facts, we request that you formally consider possible forms of additional hazard compensation for RAs, not only to highlight the work we have been doing and will continue to do, but also give us some added comfort to our daily lives. While this would be a small price for UNH to pay, it would go a great length to commend the extra responsibilities and stress RAs have been under.

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