Daily file photo by Annabel Edwards
Starting next year, Northwestern resident assistants will receive earnings of $500 per quarter and a new, RA-specific meal plan.
Deb Schmidt-Rogers, the director of Residential Life, said the RA meal plan is not completely finalized yet but will include weekly meals, meal exchanges and points.
“We are doing a combination of dining hall meals and meal exchanges to provide additional flexibility to the RAs in terms of where they can eat their meals,” Schmidt-Rogers said.
In the past, RAs have been assigned the Weekly 14 Meal Plan. This will be the first year there will be an RA-specific plan.
RA Shay Rajavel, a McCormick junior, said Schmidt-Rogers seems enthusiastic about helping RAs have more flexibility with their dining options and has been involved in changing their meal plan by communicating with Sodexo, NU’s main food provider.
Rajavel served during Spring Quarter on the RA advisory board, which is comprised of two RAs from each residence director’s staff, she said. The advisory board allows RAs to give their input on residential life initiatives and voice any concerns they may have, Rajavel added.
The advisory board discussed which parts of the meal plan, such as meal exchanges and points, should be prioritized and shared those suggestions with Schmidt-Rogers, Rajavel said.
“The RA meal plan was something that was discussed throughout the year from within the advisory board,” she said.
Schmidt-Rogers worked on making the RA meal plan practical and financially reasonable, Rajavel said.
“She had to logistically figure out how this would work, because Sodexo was the one that she had to convince, that she had to come to agreement with them … what would be fair financially,” she said.
Schmidt-Rogers said the cost of the RA meal plan to the Residential Services Department will not differ from the Weekly 14 Meal Plan RAs have used in the past.
Tiffany Ann Gonzalez, the assistant director of Residential Life, said the RA meal plan and the earnings are part of an effort to be more conscious of what RAs are asked to do. Schmidt-Rogers worked with the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid to ensure RAs will receive an appropriate earnings amount each quarter, Gonzalez said.
Schmidt-Rogers said NU is the first institution at which she has worked where RAs did not receive earnings.
“Being an RA takes a great deal of time and commitment,” she said. “It was very important to me to come up with an earnings amount that would not negatively impact a student’s financial aid package.”
The RA advisory board was aware the earnings were a possibility for the future, but the decision to implement the earnings next year was revealed to all RAs in May, Schmidt-Rogers said.
“I’m very excited that I was able to facilitate the addition of an earnings package to the RA position and be able to surprise them with the announcement,” Schmidt-Rogers said.
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