By Lindsey Babcock, with additional reporting from Owen Fidler and Sam King
Vice President of Student Life Dr. Karnell McConell-Black sent out an email to the Reed community in regards to the Union of Reed College Housing Advisors (URCHA) on the afternoon of October 11.
Dr. McConnell-Black opens the email by acknowledging that the House Advisor role, “holds a special place within Reed College” and that, “Reed understands the right of the HAs to organize in this fashion and respects the union-organizing process.”
At a student protest on September 22, Dr. McConnell-Black was asked if the college would voluntarily recognize URCHA. He declined to comment on the issue at the time. In the weeks since, 85 Reed alumni signed a petition to President Audrey Bilger and college administration requesting that the college pursue voluntary recognition. Many of the signatories themselves were former employees of the college. The letter asked the administration to recognize OPEIU Local 11 as URCHA’s exclusive bargaining representative and that the administration take steps to ensure union members won’t suffer retaliation.
In Wednesday’s email, Dr. McConnell-Black emphasized the “pivotal role” that HAs have on campus but did not comment on whether he or the college recognized the union. He stated, “We have carefully considered the request to voluntarily recognize the Union of Reed College House Advisers,” and, “We ask that every HA have the opportunity to vote so that they can participate in this decision.”
Finally, his email ended with an online resource, “including information about the HAs’ job descriptions, compensation, GPA requirements, and safety during rounds.”
A second email by President Audrey Bilger was sent on Wednesday, October 11 to four alumni, former House Advisors who were part of the attempt to unionize in 2018. Her email reads, “Thank you for reaching out about the unionizing efforts of House Advisers at Reed. I appreciate your continued concern and support for current Reed students. We are honoring the HAs’ request to be considered for representation by a union. We have carefully considered the request to voluntarily recognize the Union of Reed College House Advisers (URCHA). We ask that every HA have the opportunity to vote so that they can participate in this decision. It is important that each HA is able to freely express their desire to join a union or not in an election conducted by secret ballot.”
The Quest asked URCHA for comment on the Vice President for Student Life’s email. URCHA’s Student Publications Liaison Lina Eid ‘26 responded on behalf of the organization, saying, “We’re disappointed that Reed hasn’t officially recognized us as a Union, but we’re moving forward with an election regardless.”