Cuts don’t sway RA lure

Brandon Zeris, Copy Editor

Despite recent Pitt-Johnstown Resident Assistants’ benefit cuts, residential clerk numbers have remained steady.

Last year, RA’s pay was distributed on a tiered system, Housing Director Mark Dougherty said.

“There were two tiers. During the first year you would make $1,500 per semester, and in your second year and above, you would make $1,750.”

This year, RAs make $1,200 regardless of experience. Dougherty attributed this to budget cuts and overspending.

“A specific portion of our budget goes to paying our RAs, and, historically, we have overspent in that area. Previously, we were able to cut other areas to compensate for our overspending,” he said.

“With our budget being cut it was either reduce stipends overall, or cut RA positions, and we didn’t want to cut any positions.”

Dougherty also said low housing occupancy levels have factored into cuts.

“Levels are low this year: at 93 percent. Usually we are around 95 to 98 percent.”

In addition to recent pay cuts, Dougherty said a free meal plan was cut in 2008.

Although pay cuts may make positions less desirable, clerking, the RA-shadowing process required for all students who want to become an RA, numbers have not decreased.

“We have 46 right now, a pretty standard turnout,” Dougherty said.

Benefit reductions have not deterred sophomore residential clerk Corey Salem from wanting to be an RA.

“I feel if all clerks knew about the benefit cuts, then there may be fewer people applying, but I’m not complaining. I still think it’s a big help,” he said.

Salem said he’s not worried about the cuts because he has another job on campus, but thinks it may affect current RAs.

“I feel it might hurt current RAs most since it’s unexpected and they may need that money for their expenses.”

Benefits have been cut, but they compete with other universities Dougherty said.

Pitt Staff Services Administrative Assistant Katie Peters at Pitt-Oakland agreed, saying Pitt-Oakland RAs are not given a stipend.

“RAs get housing and a meal plan for free here, but they don’t get a stipend.”

Salem said he’s glad a stipend is given, rather than a meal plan.

“It gives us a choice to spend the money on a meal plan if we want, but we can also spend it on other things. I like the freedom.”