OUSA Demands an RA Pay Increase, University Ignores Them

OUSA Demands an RA Pay Increase, University Ignores Them

The minimum salary for someone in management at Otago is $72,614

OUSA’s meeting with the University to try and get them to raise RAs’ pay to cover the cost of living in a hall has not resulted in any change. “Unfortunately, the University were unwilling to make any changes to the financial conditions for the RAs,” said OUSA Colleges Officer Norhan El Sanjak. 

After pay is taken into account, an RA at a University-owned residential college is still required to pay at least another $117 a week to live there. A recent OUSA referendum showed that 85% of students agree that RAs’ wages should cover the entirety of their accommodation costs, as is currently allowed for Wardens. RAs at the Polytechnic Student Village, the Polytech College, have free rent. Norhan also pointed out that RAs at the University of Canterbury have their rent fully covered.

OUSA made a submission featuring comment from over 60 RAs to the University earlier in the month, inviting the University to consider increasing RA pay to the point where RAs did not consider themselves “volunteers”.

A media spokeswoman said that the University “welcomed the opportunity to discuss the feedback raised by OUSA and viewed the meeting as positive”. She also said that the “benefits of being an RA are more than paid employment. The roles also provide a great opportunity for RAs to gain valuable leadership experience, training and skills”.   

However, Norhan said that current wages do not reflect the workload or demanding nature of being an RA.

“Given RAs are a huge part of the collegiate life, you would have expected the university show they value the RAs by giving them what they deserve at the very least.”

The University had already committed to some rent reduction for RAs in 2019, but it is unconfirmed how much this will be.  

Norhan said that “OUSA is committed to not stopping here and we will continuing fighting and working behind the scenes in order to reach a better outcome for future RAs. We will ask the University for another meeting, however, prior to that, more research [will be conducted] about a viable model in regards to how subsidised accommodation would look like. If the University refuses to make any adjustments following another meeting, then we will take a stronger stance on the issue at hand.”

This article first appeared in Issue 25, 2018.
Posted 9:58pm Thursday 27th September 2018 by Thea Bailie-Bellew.