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UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

‘We have it really good here’: Compensation package is satisfactory, some RAs say

Compared to compensation packages at other universities and FAU’s past offerings, some RAs say they’re happy with the benefits they receive.
Exterior+of+the+Housing+and+Residential+Education+building
Erika Fletcher
Exterior of the Housing and Residential Education building

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with the correct compensation year reflected on FAU’s RA employment webpage.

Resident Assistants (RAs) at Florida Atlantic University are offered competitive compensation packages compared to other universities and say they are content with their jobs. Their duties include responding to emergencies, such as fire alarms, or being available for residents assigned to them if there is an argument.

Many students faced obstacles when applying for housing this spring, resulting in many moving off-campus. However, being an RA is one of the only on-campus jobs with reduced housing prices. 

According to FAU’s website, Housing and Residential Education (HRE) hires only 105 RAs per year, and some RAs say the hiring process is tedious. 

The website says FAU’s RA compensation package for the 2024-2025 school year consists of half of the cheapest housing rate per semester. They also receive 110 meal swipes and a $5,130 stipend distributed evenly throughout the semester, which should roughly equal $570 biweekly. The stipend is the same for each dorm building.

Lea Lavendel, an RA at Heritage Park Towers (HPT), said she receives a lower paycheck of $525 weekly. HRE confirmed with the UP that the current hourly pay rate has increased by $1.

FAU’s RA package has increased substantially since September 2018, where the package included a lower hourly pay of only $10.50 for 15 hours per week, equaling a $315 paycheck every two weeks, bringing the total stipend to approximately $2,835. This is a difference of nearly $2,300.

Though FAU has one main compensation package, other campuses have different contracts, says Alexander Esquen, an RA at Atlantic Park Towers (APT).

“I had a contract in the summer for a different campus, and it was a different contract. Like the pay was different, not worse or better, but yes, different,” said Esquen.

The University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of South Florida (USF) offer different compensation packages.

UCF’s RA agreement for the 2023-2024 school year details that their dorms are paid in entirety, and they receive a maximum biweekly stipend of approximately $221, which would equal roughly $1,994 over the course of the semester, which is $3,135 less than FAU’s compensation. The pay varies based on the assigned dorm building.

On the other hand, USF does not offer a stipend. According to USF’s 2023-2024 RA agreement, their meal plan is equivalent to $800 per semester, and they do not have to pay for the room they are assigned if hired at the beginning of the year.

UCF Residential Education and Florida Housing Officers did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. USF Residential Education also declined to comment, saying they do not allow their RAs to speak with the media.

RAs have more responsibility than the average student, as HRE requires them to respond to emergencies.

Esquen began working as an RA this past summer at the Jupiter campus before taking his current position at APT. He emphasized that although the benefits are sufficient, many applicants underestimate the job. Specifically, he noted that part of an RA’s job is to act as a first responder when necessary.

“My biggest thing is, the pay ultimately does equal to what you put in,” Esquen said. “For example, a fire drill or a real fire alarm going off. In that moment, you have to be ready to realize that you’re responsible for the people on your floor. Maybe not legally, but you are the authority figure on that floor.”

Mackenzie Dowie, a junior in her third year of nursing school, worked at Parliament Hall in her first year and is now an RA at APT. She says she’s experienced situations where she had to step in.

“I personally have dealt with some cases where, like, students have even been baker acted, so there are those tougher cases where you are first responding to them,” Dowie said.

Dowie said all RAs undergo training to prepare them for emergencies, where they learn policies, procedures and protocols. She expressed satisfaction with the training she received.

“When you first come into contact with [those situations], you’re very taken aback. But at least for me personally, because of the training I received through the housing department and also just my background knowledge of certain situations as well, I feel capable and willing to help in any situation,” Dowie said.

Esquen made no complaints about his level of compensation and benefits.

“Honestly, I get paid well. I’m happy with it. Um, I would say I would say we have a really good here. Other colleges, I believe you find they don’t get paid as much, or their benefits are smaller. I believe some RAs only get free housing, and that’s about it,” Esquen said.

Lavendel said she loves the connections she has created with her residents.

“Just being able to be a support person for people has been such a blessing. And try and make people’s college experience living on campus a little bit better,” Lavendel said. “It just feels really important. It feels like I was meant to do this.”

Christian Valverde contributed to reporting on this story.

Elisabeth Gaffney is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For more information regarding this story or others, you can reach her by email at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @elisabethgaff.

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About the Contributors
Elisabeth Gaffney, Managing Editor
Elisabeth is a junior majoring in multimedia journalism and double minoring in linguistics and sociology. She is a creative, kitten and coffee-loving workaholic with a love for the performing arts and storytelling. She hopes to one day work as a reporter at an established newspaper.
Erika Fletcher, Lead Photographer
Erika is a junior majoring in multimedia studies with a minor in photography. She loves shooting sports and street photography and in her free time, she enjoys drawing, skateboarding, playing soccer, listening to music, and being with her friends and family. She joined the UP on a whim to make new friends and to get better at photography. In her time here, while not long, she's made connections and learned so much about herself already and can't wait to continue her journey with such great people.

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