On January 13, 2023, the returning House Advisor applications went live on Handshake. Along with structural revisions, there were two big changes to the application that caused a ruckus among many current HAs. The application, along with all the regular HA duties such as throwing events, being available for training dates, etc., introduced two new guidelines which caught us all off guard. In order to be an HA at Reed, a GPA requirement has been instated, as well as a requirement to be “on-call” during the school year.
Most of these changes were a surprise not only to the student body but also to ResLife itself. Only days before the applications went live, Associate Dean for Student and Campus Life Claudia Ramirez Islas informed ResLife of the changes that had been made to the HA role. This was shocking to ResLife, especially considering that they already had an HA application to release during winter break, but were continuously told to push the date.
Many HAs and area coordinators gathered on February 13 to air their grievances about the new role, particularly with concern about the logistics of these new requirements. Hailey Fazio (‘24) spoke on how the HA job is now less attainable because of the new GPA requirement (now 2.4, though 2.5 when the application first dropped). She asserted that, “Just because someone’s GPA dips under 2.5 does not mean that they are unable to be an HA…it’s a crazy thing that someone may be terminated because they may have not done as well” Fazio was also concerned with how on-call training will work. Max Costigan (‘25) pointed out that many HAs did not even attend training because they were occupied with other commitments. They questioned how this problem would be remedied; If training becomes required, especially with the new first-aid certification, how will the administration accommodate students who are unable to attend all of the training? This mandatory training could force students to decide between things such as struggling to afford off-campus housing, or missing crucial internship opportunities, a decision that is incredibly hard to make, especially for lower-income students. Ashley Oliver ‘25 read aloud a quote from the “Vision & Values” section of ResLife’s website, “We envision a vibrant, safe, inclusive living environment where each student is invested in their academic and personal success and their pride in Reed. These values include academic excellence, community, personal development, respect, and wellness.” Oliver then asked, “Do you think keeping students on call on nights and weekends facilitates their academic excellence? What about their personal development? Or wellness?” They continued, saying, “Any equitable employer asking their employee to do more work would offer them more pay.”
Ashley Schlipp (‘25) posed a question about how applicants — which includes returning HAs — are expected to decide if they want to continue with their application, as many of the logistics of on-call are not yet laid out. Considering that many have multiple jobs, an overload of classes, and off-campus responsibilities, it would be incredibly hard for potential applicants to decide whether to apply without more details.
Unfortunately, this Senate public gave few answers to those who attended. The meeting ended with Dean of Students Tawana Parks asserting, “I heard all of your voices. I’m incredibly honored that you shared them.”
After speaking with Gary Granger, students were told that CSOs are aware of the HA role changes, and officers have spoken amongst themselves as to how these revisions may affect campus safety or security. Overall, Director of Community Safety Gary Granger stated that they “look forward to collaborating with Residence Life by ensuring that CSO roles and HA roles are synchronous and, to the extent possible, that we don’t duplicate work.” Despite this future collaboration, no concrete plans have been set in place. At the end of Senate public, Parks stated that Vice President for Student Life Karnell McConnell-Black has been working on implementing these guidelines for the past two years. However, some staff stated that despite the HA revisions being a two-year plan, they were not informed of these new guidelines, and the changes came as a surprise.
Upon further research, Willamette University’s on-call position held incredibly similar descriptions to the one at Reed College. Their RA description reads, “Serve in an on-call rotation during the semester; on-call is scheduled to cover when most campus offices (e.g., Residence Life and Housing) are not open. On-call RAs are often the first layer of response to needs including but not limited to lockouts, medical emergencies, and facility problems. RAs are expected to contact additional support resources for resolution as needed.” This description was exactly translated onto Reed’s HA application, the only difference being that RA was switched to HA in Reed’s version, and Willamette University had already established on-call times.
It was also discovered that the GPA Housing Advisor requirements and responsibilities are similar to Reed’s at both Willamette University and Lewis and Clark College. Both institutions require a GPA of 2.5 at the time of hiring, while similarly, Reed requires a GPA of 2.4. Current HAs at Senate public commented that this GPA requirement opposed the deemphasis of grades that Reed so proudly abides by. As per Reed’s grade policy, “Students are encouraged to focus on learning, not on grades. Students receive extensive feedback on their work, and semester grades are filed with the registrar, but, by tradition, students do not receive standard grade reports.” Students point out that with this requirement on the HA application, grades now become a factor as to why one deserves to be an HA.
As many HAs have seen in the past, the application process previously included cover letters and applicant interviews. However, last year these two processes were removed in order to make the position more equitable for students. This year, they were reinstated for new applicants by the administration.
The Quest has reached out to administration with questions regarding changes in the HA job description and more, but has been unable to receive answers at this time. As a result, this is an ongoing piece, so check back with the Quest later for more!