Hundreds of Stanford RA's on indefinite strike 2 weeks before classes begin

Luz Pena Image
Saturday, September 4, 2021
Hundreds of Stanford RA's on strike 2 weeks before classes start
Hundreds of Stanford's resident assistants, or RA's, are on strike after a student tested positive for COVID after a large training session.

STANFORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of Stanford's resident assistants, also known as RA's, are on strike. This group of students is in charge of welcoming students and keeping dormitories safe.

Less than two weeks before Stanford University undergraduate students go back to campus hundreds of RA's are refusing to work unless their demands are met.

"Stanford in currently paying RA's about $3,800 a quarter. An academic year has three quarters so that is right above $11,000. Room and Board at Stanford University is about $18,000. If you do the math we are essentially paying to work," said one of the RA's over a zoom interview.

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ABC7 News spoke to two Stanford RA's who wanted to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation.

Luz Pena: "Are you scared that you are doing this? That you are speaking out?"

RA: "Absolutely. As a student I'm very fearful because I'm only one piece and Stanford is this huge elite institution that has quite a lot of power."

The strike comes several days after at least one RA's tested positive for COVID-19 following an indoor, in-person RA training event.

"They packed us all into a 500-person auditorium and a couple days later we found out that a student actually was positive for COVID," said an RA.

Even though all Stanford residents are mandated to be fully vaccinated, RA's with Stanford's Student Collective Action against Residential Education (SCAARE) say that's not enough.

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This group wants more COVID safety guidelines, to get paid for their weeks of training and to move their training sessions online.

They are also asking for the reversal of an alcohol policy where students used to drink with their doors open, but now they can close them.

"The first or second week, one of the RA's who was working during that time (last year) told us that five freshmen were transported to the hospital because of alcohol poisoning. This new policy that basically drove a lot of these freshmen to go underground," said one of the RA's.

Stanford University said:

"We have checked with our professional residential staff members, and because they are proceeding with student staff training, they are unavailable for interviews. However, we can share the following information.

Open lines of communication between student staff and the university are a key strength of our residential system. Campus safety continues to be a top priority for everyone, and we have rolled out many protocols to support the health and well-being of our community. These include face covering guidelines for indoor and outdoor spaces and a robust COVID-19 surveillance testing program for students, faculty, and staff regardless of their vaccination status.

The university has also taken significant steps, in partnership with students, to address residential student staff work and compensation. In the past few years, these steps included the university budgeting an additional $2.3 million annually for residential student staff pay. In the coming weeks, we will continue to work with students on their questions and concerns as we prepare to welcome students back to campus."

Out of about 500 RA's SCAARE believes about 150 are willing to go back to work.

Luz Pena: "How long is this strike going to go for?"

RA: "As of now the SCAREE group has decided to strike indefinitely. Until Stanford University has reached the demands."