Senate Beat: Students Address HA Changes

Senate Public on Monday began with a full audience, with senators having to set up an extra two rows of folding chairs for a crowd of almost 40 people — a stark contrast to the usual five or so of us in the audience. This week’s public had a theme — House Advisor applications. With the recent changes to the HA role, many current and former HA’s came out to voice their concerns.

Before addressing House Advisor concerns, Senate announced that applications for J-Board secretary and the Student Committee on Diversity (SCOD) are now open on Handshake, “so apply if either of those interest you,” said Senator Jefferson Ratliff.

Additionally, Student Body Head Treasurer Wani Pandey recommended the allocation of $600 to Tango Club, $654 to Chess Club, $252 to Masquerade Ball, $150.01 to Rave Reed, $15 to Rugby, and $375 to Love Ball. All of the allocations passed unanimously. “We had a great funding hell, thank you to everyone who sent in their budgets,” she said. 

Relevant to the topic of HA applications, Senator Astrid Liu announced that they are working on a form to collect student feedback for the policy changes regarding the HA position. They are planning on sending it out later this week. “Keep an eye out for that,” they said. 

Once Senate finished making their announcements, they opened the floor up to the crowd, who had come to voice their opinions on the description changes to the HA job application. House Advisor applications came out a few weeks ago and closed on Tuesday the 13th. Many students noticed the addition of new requirements on the form, such as requiring HA’s to be “on call,” maintain a 2.4 GPA, and be first responders to medical emergencies.

Many of the attending crowd worried that the new requirements made the HA position more inaccessible. With regards to the need to maintain a 2.5 GPA, Hailey, one of the first to speak, said, “We’ve all had some really awful semesters here at Reed, so I think to punish somebody for the fact that something happened within their personal life and they can no longer be an HA, I think is a little absurd.” Allegedly, the requirement has been lowered to a 2.4 GPA, though Hailey – and others – still had concerns. Another speaker mentioned that HA’s tend to hold multiple jobs on top of their job as an HA and their work as a student. “We’re already more vulnerable to having a lower GPA, so by adding a GPA requirement, you’re making Reed even more economically inaccessible on top of how much it already is,” they said. 

The new application also requires HA’s to be “on call” for longer periods of time, with no description of what “on call” actually entails. Despite the extra hours that “on call” seems to imply, the HA position has not seen an increase in pay. Another speaker, Max, had asked for clarification about being “on call,” but reported that they hadn’t received an answer past, “We don’t have information on this yet.” Without a definitive increase in pay, Max continued, “We’d be on call for more hours and less pay, or be paid less for the hours that we worked, and I don’t think that’s fair for my time.” 

The new HA requirements are also particularly detrimental for disabled students. “Lockouts and being on call, expecting us to be awake – for students who experience chronic pain or fatigue-related disability,” said Leo, another student in the audience, “that’ll very rapidly make the HA position incredibly inaccessible to work.” 

Next year’s HA’s will also have to be first responders to medical emergencies, but as far as the current HA’s are aware, they have not received anywhere close to adequate medical training. “We were told to call the CSOs – that was our medical training,” said Max. Generally, students wondered what the plan for next year would be, whether they would be getting training for specific certifications and whether they would be given compensation. 

Many in the audience were dissatisfied with ResLife’s current responses to the situation. The values that ResLife upholds – “academic excellence, community, personal development, respect, and wellness” – were values that Ashley Oliver, a student in the audience, felt were directly challenged by the new HA requirements. “How does implementing these changes with no HA input or advance notice, and not even clarifying what all the requirements of the position will be before we have to decide whether to reapply or not, show any level of respect for HAs?” she asked. 

At 5:01 pm, President Zengar announced that Public had come to a close. “Thank you so much to all of you for coming and voicing your concerns,” she said, “It takes a lot of courage to stand in front of any group of people and talk about your job and place of work and have very valid dissatisfaction with it.”

Following the end of Public announcement, Dean of Students Tawana Parks stood up within the audience to address the crowd in front of her. “I heard all of your voices. I’m incredibly honored that you shared them,” she said. Parks announced that she is taking responsibility, and took notes on the students’ concerns so that they will be better able to provide responses. “Thank you,” said Parks.

By L Urena

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Reed College House Advisors Organize Protest, Announce Plans to Unionize – Quest.
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[…] concerns from House Advisors about changes to their job descriptions, which were first voiced at a Student Body Senate meeting last February. Those changes include the implementation of “rounds” — which require HAs to patrol in and […]

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