Free Accommodation cut for Residential Assistants

UCD's Residential Assistants will no longer receive free accommodation. It will now be offered at a subsidised rate of €2,700 for the year.The changes emerged following the opening of applications by the UCD Accommodation Office for the academic year 2017/2018. The number of RA positions has also been expanded from 48 to 70. Applications closed last Tuesday at 4pm.The document describing the role explains that the cutting of free accommodation comes as part of a "full review" of the role, stating that the job has been "updated to better reflect the needs of the Residents and the RAs who support them." There has been no indication that the increase in RAs will mean a reduction in the number of hours they are expected to work.The Observer reached out to the Accommodation Office for clarification on their decision, but neither they nor the UCD Communications Office commented.The decision has received some criticism from current RAs. Speaking on the issue with a Residential Assistant who wished to remain anonymous, the general consensus has been one of discontent. They said, “I could understand financial contribution if the [work] shifts changed significantly but there hasn’t been indication of that.”They continued, speaking on the difficulties of the role at present: “I think that’s why this is so frustrating for us, because being an RA does affect your whole college experience, you’re not just committing to work hours but taking up a role where you can face conflict with your peers. There’s a lot of responsibility, and a lot of scope to be seen negatively when you’re the one shutting down your friends’ party.”The source also explained that as the role becomes more “community-focused”, it would mean more RAs will be available during each shift. As a result, RAs may not see reduced working hours.Residential Assistants live on campus during term time and offer support to students living in residence. As described in the role description, RAs "help develop the community, provide leadership and assist in out of hours aspects of the UCD Residences." The role of a RA is also described as having many responsibilities such as helping students "be aware of expected standards of behaviour within the residences and uphold the relevant rules." RAs also serve as "role models" for acceptable behaviour, "enhance" the experience of living on campus and also help "develop positive relationships" in the residences.New RAs must be available from mid-August to the 22nd of May next year, with training set to take place in the last two weeks in August, just before the start of the new academic year.