Free housing, additional meal plan discount among proposals
USC Housing is reviewing a proposal from the Resident Mentor Council to grant returning RMs free housing.
There will be discussions between Housing and the Council concerning the proposal, but that active dialogue has yet to take place, said Colleen Mullis, Housing’s assistant director for marketing and communications.
The RM Council is also proposing an increase in RMs’ meal plan discount. USC RMs currently receive half off their housing fees in addition to a 25 percent discount on 14-or-higher meal plans. Also, RMs receive a stipend of $2,190 in their first academic year and $2,317.50 in following years.
“We’re actually undercompensated for the amount of hours we work, especially in comparison with the rest of the SEC schools,” said David Cox, a third-year business student and member of the RM Council. “In 2000, USC Housing was one of the leaders in the U.S., they were basically setting the bar, and since then we’ve declined very much. And one of the reasons is the lack of forward thinking from the administration.”
Benefits for RMs vary widely among universities. At Clemson, RMs receive $3,523.50 per year, but only a 15 percent discount rate on housing. However, they are guaranteed private rooms unless there is a capacity overflow. Clemson RMs also get a free meal plan and a 10 percent discount at the university bookstore.
SEC schools like USC also present a range of deals. At the University of Tennessee, Resident Assistants are paid $6,360 for the year, plus extra for August and May depending on how many days they are on payroll. But they don’t get any other benefits, other than a guaranteed private room for the double occupancy rate.
University of Kentucky Resident Advisors get a free single room, a free meal plan and money to pay for laundry, but they only get paid for desk hours exceeding their required minimum of five hours per week.
Cox said free housing and reduced meal plan prices would allow USC RMs to better serve their residents. He also complained of unfairness in the existing 25 percent meal plan stipend.
“I upgraded my meal plan and they told me that I only have 75 bonus bucks, and they said that’s because I only pay for 75 percent of the meal plan,” Cox said. “Things like that don’t make sense.”
West Quad RM Caroline Mayer said she thinks that free housing would motivate more RMs to return.
But, she said, “the only compensation should be the joy of being with our residents.”