President Beilock: Recognize the Barnard RA Union Now!

95% of Barnard Resident Attendants have submitted their petition to demand recognition of their union!

Send an email to President Sian Beilock today to show your support and tell Barnard to come to the table with no delays!

See our press release below for more information:


NEW YORK, October 3, 2022 - Barnard College Resident Assistants file for union recognition with OPEIU-153

Today, 95% of Barnard College’s 58 Resident Assistants submitted a petition to President Sian Leah Beilock to announce their formation of a union with OPEIU-153 and to demand voluntary recognition.

Barnard College Resident Assistants (RA’s) are undergraduate student workers who have been hired by the College to live in the dorms and oversee anywhere between 20-70 residents. Although the College claims that this job “must not exceed a total of 20 hours each week,” RAs have seen the position become an overwhelming, 24/7 job. To maintain their jobs, RAs are required to stay on campus through weekends and holidays, attend weekly mandatory staff meetings, hold 1 on 1 counseling sessions with each of their residents, design and create monthly bulletin boards, hold monthly programs, and work weekly overnight shifts in addition to their academic responsibilities. The College discourages RAs from joining clubs or volunteer activities due to the nature of the job, and requires disclosure of all extracurricular responsibilities.

“When you work where you live, you’re never truly off-duty. We are first responders, emergency contacts, and crisis hotlines. We care about our residents and want them to be happy and successful at Barnard, but no one should have to work as hard as RAs do for no pay or real compensation.”

-Katie Cherven, Barnard Resident Assistant

Despite all of this work, the position is unpaid - instead, the College compensates them with a dorm room and a meal plan that will allot them 150 meals per semester at the campus dining hall (which does not cover time spent on campus before students arrive,) with no guarantee that they will be able to maintain this position throughout the semester. For students who are on financial aid, they have their college grant reduced or fully replaced with the RA role meaning their family contributions remain the same–-this results in an unfair payment across RAs of different backgrounds. When an RA is assigned an extra shift, has to deal with a resident in crisis, or covers for a sick colleague, there is no additional compensation or support. Many students take on the RA job as a means of financial assistance to allow them to attend the College, where tuition is over $60,000 per year.

“Over the summer, I was an RA in Elliott Hall when it became clear that we were not receiving meal plans until the semester technically started. Elliott Hall does not have refrigerators. Without a meal plan or a refrigerator, I ate granola and water for breakfast for two weeks before a settlement was reached with Residential Life. When the administration learned that there were no refrigerators in Elliott, they looked confused – it was almost as if none of them had ever set foot in Elliott Hall.”

-Hannah Yi, Barnard College Resident Assistant

I didn’t mainly become an RA for the compensation – I was excited to be able to engage more closely with the Barnard community and emulate the amazing figure my first-year RA was. Barnard is profiting off of the labor of students with greater financial need by using our labor to decrease their financial responsibilities. Not only is this an extremely unethical practice, but it decreases the quality of Barnard residential life by dissuading students with greater financial need from becoming RAs, therefore depriving our RA staff of a greater diversity of experience. All RAs deserve to be compensated fairly regardless of their financial circumstances for the immense time and energy we put into this job, which will allow us to better serve our communities and do the work we want to do and enjoy doing. “

-Sarah Baybeck, Barnard Resident Assistant

By unionizing, the Barnard College Resident Assistant union hopes to achieve security and stability for themselves and for future Resident Assistants.

“Unionizing will give us the power of having an equal seat at the table to transform the entirety of the position into something fair and equitable not only for us, but for future generations of RAs. If you’re an RA frustrated with your college, hoping to make a change, I hope you follow suit.”

-Aditi Misra, class of 2023, RA since spring 2021

There is a rally scheduled for Friday, October 7 at 4pm in front of the Barnard Library where RA’s will be speaking out about their working conditions and demanding that Barnard administration recognize their union with no delays.

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