University should compensate Community Advisors
In light of a recent petition circulating with the hope that the University would begin compensating meal plans for Community Advisors, this board would like to bring attention to the importance of supporting said petition. While the University has already rejected the previous proposal, we would like to bring light to why it should be reconsidered.
CAs work tirelessly to keep their peers safe, healthy, and comfortable, but they do not get paid. Their “payment” is free housing; however, a meal plan, which all students living on campus are required to have, is not included. Especially during these trying times, in which CAs have risked their health to continue to support the community, we must take a step back and realize how much more they deserve. Thus, this board urges the University to find a way to subsidize meal plans for CAs.
We understand that this may put a financial burden on the University. One way to solve this could be through meal swipe allocation. Many students on campus purchase a meal plan and end up having many swipes left over at the end of each week, so a system could potentially be created in which students can donate their meal swipes to a fund that would help cover CA dining. We already have a similar system for Kindness Day every year, when students have the option to donate a meal swipe to a dining service worker. Recycling meal plans could be accomplished using a similar system.
According to an April 9 email to the Justice from Senior Vice President of Communications, Marketing, and External Relations Dan Kim on behalf of Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Ou and Vice President for Campus Operations Lois Stanley, “currently, CAs are compensated by having the cost of their housing waived. Because of federal formulas for calculating financial aid, this housing cost waiver does factor into financial aid; the same would be true of a complimentary meal plan.” This board recognizes that this is a valid concern. However, we highly encourage the University to try to work around this in any way possible and at least be transparent with CAs and CA applicants about how these federal formulas work.
On a related note, it has come to our attention that the dining options over academic breaks are limited. As stated in the CA contract, each CA must cover at least one shift over an academic break each year. Many international students also cannot go home over breaks, especially in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is imperative that proper nourishment be provided for those living on campus during each break. CAs are already going out of their way to stay on campus and do unpaid work rather than relaxing at home; they should be able to feel comfortable knowing that they can at least get quality food from the dining halls while on campus.
We appreciate the addition of a meal stipend to the CA compensation plan, as outlined in the 2022-23 Community Advisor Job Description; however, there is still more to be done. A stipend of $625 per semester is better than nothing, but it is hardly enough to cover the entire semester. It also does not take into account the meals and snacks CAs will need when they are covering shifts over breaks.
This board urges the University to reconsider covering the costs of meal plans for CAs and improving the dining options on campus over breaks. CAs already work very hard to make sure the Brandeis community feels safe and connected, so they should receive proper meals in exchange for their efforts.
—Editor’s note: Editor Cameron Cushing ’23 is a Community Advisor. He did not contribute to or edit this article.