With the passing of its response deadline today, Residence Services has terminated 40 of its student-staff members who refused to agree to the newly created staff positions.
These 40 students were democratically elected in March to dual roles as LHSA officers and Residence Services employees. In an attempt to sever students' ties with the LHSA, the University administration unilaterally changed the conditions of their employment last week, and provided the students with ten days to respond to a new offer. Of the 46 staff members who received the offers, 40 declined and 38 have chosen to remain officers of the LHSA.
This leaves the University administration with two weeks to hire 36 student-staff positions for the new Residence Assistant roles as well as all 4 Senior RA roles. The latter in particular are designed to be filled by residents with experience in the Floor Coordinator role. Recruitment for these roles will be very difficult due to the limited pool of applicants with Lister leadership experience.
All 40 of these positions will have to be filled in time for staff training, which begins in the middle of August. Residence staff training provides student leaders with skills such as suicide intervention, conflict resolution, and listening skills that are vital to effectively support a floor of mainly first-year students. It has, in the past, been considered a compulsory condition for Residence Services employment. It is unclear what will happen if any positions remain vacant through move-in, when new students are most vulnerable.
Today the Dean of Students, Frank Robinson, has written to student leaders that declined continued employment with Residence Services. Robinson has told each that each "is the one best suited for the job now." With this letter, the Dean of Students has presented additional offers — waiving the mandatory meal plan and encouraging involvement with the LHSA — to student leaders who choose to remain as Residence Services employees. The terms of this offer were unclear in the email.
While the University administration is having to continually adapt the proposal because of implementation oversight, the Students? Union has remained resolute throughout the process that working on a consultation framework that arrives at evidence-based solutions by December 2012 is the best way forward.
In yesterday's University press release, the acting Provost mentioned an all-or-nothing SU negotiating position that has compromised progress. This could not be farther from the truth. The Students' Union has proposed a consultation framework that would allow any solution to be considered — including the University administration's proposals — so long as they are backed by evidence.
In the attached letter of commitment, sent by the University administration on July 30, the University administration continues to refuse to revert the changes and enter into consultations regarding the merits of their proposal. The Students' Union and LHSA remain committed to ensuring the University administration engages in open discussions about the proposal's virtues, not its implementation.
Attachment 1: Proposed Letter of Understanding
University of Alberta (student concerns annotated inline by University of Alberta Students' Union / Lister Hall Students' Association)
For more information, please contact:
External Communications & Media Advisor
University of Alberta Students' Union