By Tatyanna Carman
The date of the final paycheck for community assistants (CA) was delayed to April 24 after an initial change was made to the final pay period of CA compensation by the university.
University officials decided to change the last date that would be counted toward CA compensation from March 29, with a paycheck date of April 10, to March 23, according to the Associate Dean of Residence Life Roberta Butler.
Roberta Butler, the associate dean of Residence Life
The Rider News previously covered the university’s decision to stop compensation for CAs. The university’s reason for stopping the CAs’ stipend was because they were “not in a place to continue to pay for work that could no longer be performed…,” according to Vice President for Student Affairs Leanna Fenneberg. This was a result of the closure of residence halls on campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior political science major and CA in Steven R. Beckett Village Charles Palmer said he reached out to Butler about the CAs’ last paycheck and that her response was, “originally Residence Life had hoped to be able to pay the CA staff through April 10. The university’s decision to stop student worker payroll as of March 23 trumped our decision.”
Butler sent an email on April 10 to the CAs notifying them that “The University communication on March 25 about student workers halted our process to facilitate this payment” and that CAs will not receive the final paycheck on April 10. She said in the email that the decision precipitated a discrepancy between what was previously communicated about the remaining payments. However, Butler did provide a solution in the email, as well.
“We are therefore now processing one additional two-week paycheck for the period previously committed [for] March 16 to March 29. The payment will be processed on April 24th,” she said in the email.
Butler said that the questions she has received from CAs were why were they not compensated like was originally stated, why an additional communication was not sent out and was there the ability to apply for sick pay?
Palmer said he was glad that he took it upon himself to seek clarification on this issue from Butler and glad that the CAs are being paid their last paycheck.
“I do believe community assistants should be paid the full stipend for the year, however, COVID-19 has presented unique opportunities and I know we are trying our best as a Rider Community to deal with it and accommodate everyone,” he said.
Junior communication studies major and CA of Ziegler Hall Giavanna Troilo said that she found out from a CA group chat that their final April 10 paycheck was no longer being disbursed on April 8. She later heard a statement from the community directors (CD) on April 9 about this change.
Troilo said that she found the news of this change upsetting and that it was “unacceptable” that she learned about it through another CAs’ inquiry. She also said that there was, “no communication from Residence Life of this change, and overall, the CAs have been left with a feeling of being blindsided by the multiple changes to our payroll.”
Senior dance major and CA in Steven R. Beckett Village Rose Conroy-Voza said that why the university was able to change in date for the last paycheck was “confusing,” and said that “all of this commotion,” distracts from the fact that CAs are still not being paid what they deserve.
“Yes, we are grateful that Residence Life fixed their mistake and is paying us our last paycheck however now we are just back to where we started,” Conroy-Voza said. “I hope to still fight for being paid for the entirety of the year. There are several ways CAs can work from home and several universities in New Jersey are doing so.”
Troilo said that she was relieved that Residence Life made the right decision in fulfilling its promise of the final paycheck, but it did not excuse the lack of communication. She also said that she will plan to continue to seek answers regarding the “revoking of the stipends.” Troilo had remaining questions about why the CDs are being instructed by Residence Life to conduct virtual programs to residents while being compensated, and if any changes will be done to the contract as a result of this situation.
Butler responded to those questions and said, “We retained Community Directors to oversee campus emergency response and other administrative duties associated with maintaining care for students who remain on campus. As a part of the care for students, they are also facilitating some virtual programming to support students.”
She clarified that the focus is on the coronavirus campus response and its impact on residential students presently. Residence Life has not yet considered any possible changes to the CA contract, according to Butler.
Troilo gave a response to Residence Life’s response to the situation.
“I argue that calling us a family is not enough, and that our value to you is reflected in our compensation,” Troilo said. “Vulnerable students who rely on their campus employment are suffering right now, while university administrators are most likely going to come out this with their paychecks unscathed.”