Community Advisors (CAs) play a vital role in our campus community. We offer support, guidance and snacks to our residents. We respond in times of crises and foster relationships and community. We take great pride in our work because giving back to this place that has given us so much is an honor. However, we find that we are asked time and time again to give more than we receive.
The administration has consistently acted in bad faith in their conversations with CAs. By selectively using feedback and manipulating the input of CAs, they have created a position that in no way represents the role that CAs want and that our community needs. While we recognize that the role of the CA must serve a larger purpose in the community than just programming, many complex questions remain about the extent of our obligations. We have had some promising conversations with the administration at various points; however, the lack of follow up from the administration has resulted in our unfortunate current circumstance.
They have assigned us more hours of hands-on work with no change in pay by changing the on-call system from a cell phone model to a landline. CAs would be expected to stay by a landline while on call for four hour shifts, from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. This inflexible system, while intended to help address questions of equity among the staff, does not reflect the needs of our community and would serve as a major inconvenience for CAs.
We are already underpaid, and by changing to this model in the contract that they offered us for next year, the problem is only exacerbated. It is also worthwhile to note that in talks with organizers at peer institutions, our compensation has often seemed inadequate, as many schools offer remuneration equivalent to the cost of room and board. As we are required to live in a particular place and cannot do our job while not living on campus, it is only logical that we should be paid enough to cover the cost of doing so. For a school endowed with such plentiful resources, it is appalling that Amherst insists upon the continued exploitation of its student workers.
To this end, we proudly announce the formation of the Union of Student Workers at Amherst College (USWAC). The USWAC aims to achieve fair pay, reasonable working conditions, safety and equity in the workplace for all student workers. While we begin our work in Residential Life, we welcome all student workers to organize their own workplace and join our fight.
We, USWAC, are launching our inaugural campaign. Our demands are as follows:
● Increased compensation to $7,655, equivalent to the cost of room and board
● Selection from available singles in the assigned Residential Area, where applicable
● A modernized on-call system, with updated phones and a well-laid out schedule
If you have been offered a contract with Residential Life for next year, we ask that you do not sign until our demands have been met. You deserve better, we deserve better and the community as a whole deserves better. If you have been offered a position or applied for one, please fill out this form to signal your support. If you are not a potential employee of Residential Life, we encourage you to show your solidarity by signing on to our petition. We thank you for your support.
The Community Advisors
Union of Student Workers at Amherst College
For more information, please email us at [email protected] and follow us on our Instagram, @uswac1821