‘So many people are fighting for their lives to get this job’: Emerson students weigh in on RA decisions

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Photo: Zhihao Wu

Little Building and Walker Building in the snow.

After the university announced the hiring of resident assistants last month, a select group of students were given the opportunity to serve in the role next year, while many others were left in uncertain financial circumstances.

The Office of Housing and Residential Education released its decisions on March 15, marking the end of the long-awaited hiring process. Many students apply for the positions each year to avoid paying room and board.—an expense that normally costs Emerson students $22,554, but the university pays for accepted RAs.

With undergraduate tuition fees and room and board. increasing by 2 percent next yearstudents who are not accepted may need to take out loans or reevaluate their housing situation entirely.

“Emerson is expensive,” said Kendel Dawson, a visual and media arts student who was also accepted. “For someone like me, taking out loans, saving room and board would help me a lot to pay for my education.”

For some students, the university’s hiring decision determines whether they can afford to continue enrollment.

“I come from a low-income family and my mom is a single mom, so that also takes a lot of stress off of us,” said Juliana Pérez, a third-year visual media arts transfer student who was accepted as an RA.

Regarding the process, many said they wanted more consideration of individual students’ struggles to afford housing.

“The frustration lies in the fact that the tuition and room and board costs are so outrageous that so many people are fighting for their lives to get this job,” said an anonymous student.

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Other applicants, such as visual media arts junior Rayquan Blake, said the position was first and foremost an opportunity to support the Emerson community.

“The main reason I applied was deeply rooted in my passion to help others,” Blake said. “Last week I received the good news that I was offered the position of full-year resident assistant. I was thrilled and sincerely grateful.”

Some transfer students applied in part to alleviate the stress new students face, stress they know all too well.

“Knowing how difficult it can be to transition to college as a transfer student, I wanted to make that transition easier for other transfer students who feel really isolated, reaching the middle of their college career and not knowing anyone,” Pérez said.

Applicants’ opinions differed on whether or not all aspects of the application process were fair, but most agreed that the rejection was a devastating blow.

“It’s something I really want,” said one student, who requested anonymity. “I only hope that spaces are opened for people to be asked [to be an RA] sometime in the next few months.”

With so many students competing for only 30 spots, the students knew very well that they were up against stiff competition. Some have accepted their rejections more willingly than others.

“So many people are in the same boat,” said one student. “I can’t be upset about someone who came in my place, because I don’t know their financial circumstances.”