A petition began circulating around social media on April 6 relating to the compensation of Community Advisors (CA), the petition addresses the current “inadequate” compensation of community advisors and proposes demands to remedy the situation. A main point of the petition is having the university compensate CAs by covering the cost of their meal plan, this comes as the university begins negotiations for a new dining contract beginning on July 1.
“For many years, Community Advisors have advocated for full room and board compensation, on par with similar institutions, including full meal plan compensation and a stipend. These demands have not been met, despite consistent acknowledgment from administration,” reads the petition.
There are four main demands highlighted in the petition: full compensation for meal plans, guaranteed adequate food over breaks, compensation to CAs for having risked their health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with an additional stipend and a meeting between CA Representatives and senior administrators to discuss problems with the current CA position requirements.
One of the main goals of the petition is to address CA compensation through the payment of their meal plan; this has come forward as the university begins renegotiations for its new dining contract. The university’s CAs are required to purchase a meal plan, however, they do not receive compensation for this. The petition notes that while CAs are provided with free housing, they do not receive full compensation for their room and board which includes the cost of the meal plan.
Other higher education institutions do compensate their equivalent of CAs with meal plan coverage. Saint John’s University provides coverage for their Resident Assistants’ housing as well as coverage for their meal plan if they choose to be on a 14 meal plan, according to their website. The petition also notes other schools in the Greater Boston Area and Nation which provide their CA equivalents with full room and board compensation including Clark University and the University of Massachusetts Boston.
“Despite CAs being tasked with upholding critical functions of the university, such as responding to crises at all hours, enforcing COVID-19 protocols, and building community, CAs have had no forewarning of policy changes, inadequate provision of PPE, and an overall lack of institutional support,” according to the petition.
The petition also acknowledges that over the past two years, as the university has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an “undue burden placed on CA workload with no additional compensation.” According to the petition, the university should fully compensate its CAs by covering the cost of meal plans to align with the founding principles in social justice values. The coverage would justly compensate CAs for the additional roles they have taken on, according to the petition.
“We urge upper administration to abide by Brandeis’ diversity principles, and “safeguard the safety, dignity, and well-being of all its members” through the proper compensation of meal plans for CAs,” reads the petition.
In the petition it also cites the backgrounds of the CA community on campus, according to the petition, CAs are largely represented by “BIPOC and First-Generation Low-Income Students.” By not receiving full compensation the petition claims it shows the university’s failure “to meet the commitments made by the university to support its marginalized students.”
Another demand of the petition seeks for adequate food to be provided over breaks. According to the petition, CAs are required to work at least one shift over break. Over breaks, CAs work, “as emergency personnel essential for the maintenance of our residence halls desperately rely on campus resources during these periods,” according to the petition.
“Advocating for fair compensation for CAs is not a new conversation; during the Spring 2021, CAs sent a letter to administration detailing vital demands which remain unmet. Justifications as to why these changes could not occur usually involved a lack of such clause in the current contract,” reads the petition.
In the petition, the writers address that they expect a response from administrators and they look forward to collaborations with administrators regarding the demands made.
At the time of publication, 34 CA’s both current and incoming signed in solidarity with the petition’s demands. The petition also received the signatures of 75 current undergraduate students, as well as four faculty, staff and alumni. The petition was addressed to multiple upper administrators including: Ron Liebowitz—President, Carol A. Fierke—Provost, Stewart Uretsky—Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration, Raymond Ou—Vice President, Shelby Harris—Assistant Vice President, Lisa Kranc—Chair of the Board of Trustees, Monique Pillow Gnanaratnam—Dean of Students and Tim Touchette—Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.
The Brandeis Hoot reached out to Julie Jette for comment from the university on the petition but did not receive an immediate response by the time of publication.