Resident assistant compensation varies among Kentucky’s universities

Tommy Sullivan

Resident assistants are vital to keeping the residence halls on campus running, but how do the benefits RAs receive at other universities compare to WKU?

WKU RAs receive $7.25 per hour for 15 hours per week with a 10 cent to 15 cent raise each year they return. In addition to this payment, they receive $1,000 off housing and, if available, a private room.

University of Kentucky RAs receive a free single room, partial meal plan, laundry allowance, opportunity for paid desk hours and priority registration.

Eastern Kentucky University RAs receive a private room at no charge.

New WKU RAs receive a $1,000 stipend while returning EKU RAs receive $1,250 per semester.

University of Louisville RAs receive $7.60 per hour for 13.25 hours per week.

“We always could pay more,” Brian Kuster, the director of Housing and Residence Life, said.

However, Kuster said most RAs don’t choose this job for the money. Instead, most RAs want to help students and better themselves.

Kuster said RAs understand they can make more money at another job, but they are looking for transferable skills that will benefit them in the future. For example, learning time and conflict management prepare RAs for virtually any career.

Louisville junior Nick Lawson worked at Hugh Poland Hall last year as an RA.

“I was paid well enough for the job I did,” Lawson said. “It wasn’t too much of an actual job.”

Lawson said he didn’t have to pay nearly as much for housing as his residents.

Henderson junior Zachariah Sohne also worked at Poland Hall last year as an RA. Sohne said he would have liked to receive full room and board but wasn’t completely dissatisfied.

“The pay wasn’t too terrible,” Sohne said.

Kuster said RAs provide safety and security by working the desk and are available for the building while on call. On their floors, they are resources for residents, mediators between roommates and administrators to those who violate rules.

Kuster said the job is nontraditional and called RAs the first line in working with residents.

“We do expect a lot for what they do,” Kuster said. “It takes a special person.”

Kuster said RAs are more empathetic to issues residents have, and residents feel more comfortable with them.

“They’re students too,” Kuster said.

Both Sohne and Lawson said they enjoyed getting to know their residents and fellow RAs.

“I still keep in touch with them,” Sohne said.

Lawson said it was difficult to get up late at night and early in the morning to cover shifts and manage problems within the building while on call.

Sohne said planning programs and actually getting residents to attend them was a challenge.

During his time at WKU, Kuster was an RA in Keen Hall. Kuster said he learned a lot from the experience.

“I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything,” Kuster said.

Sohne said the experience was worthwhile.

“It was a great experience being in that position,” said Sohne. “It was definitely something that shaped me for the future.”