After hourly pay for student workers increases, stipends for residential leaders to stay the same

Grady Yuthok Short

When Massachusetts’ minimum wage increased from $14.25 to $15 per hour on Jan. 1, most student workers at the College who are paid hourly saw their wages increase by 75 cents. The range of pay rates for hourly student jobs changed from $14.25-15.50 to $15-16 per hour.

However, the stipends received by students serving as Housing Coordinators (HCs), Residential Directors (RDs), TAPSI Community Coordinators (CCs), Junior Advisors (JAs), and members of the Junior Advisor Advisory Board (JAAB) will not change from this academic year to the next, according to Director of Residential Life and Housing Patricia Leahey-Hays and Dean of First Year Students Christina Walsh.

As was the case this academic year, 2023-24 JAs will receive total stipends of $4,000. The two JA co-presidents will receive $4,500 each, and JAAB members will receive $3,500. RDs will receive $3,500 for the year, and HCs and CCs will receive $3,000.

“The amount of these leadership stipends was based on extensive research prior to setting forth the initial stipend proposal for approval,” Leahey-Hays wrote in an email to the Record, referring to the stipends received by student residential life leaders beginning with this academic year. “Leadership stipends differ from student hourly wages and do not fall into that category of review when hourly wages are being evaluated based on Massachusetts minimum wage changes.”

“In keeping with our view that these roles provide a primary educational benefit to the student leaders themselves, with indirect benefit to the College, RDs, HCs and CCs receive a fellowship stipend rather than wages,” the College’s housing website states.

In a February 2022 campus-wide email announcing the beginning of compensation for these roles, Leahey-Hays characterized the stipends as “compensation for the important residential life work our students do.”

Because the upcoming year’s class of JAs will be the smallest in the last several years, many entries will have one fewer JA than those in this academic year. “Our stance remains that our JAs will not be expected to increase their workloads,” JAAB co-presidents Jahnavi Kirtane ’24 and Daniela Sanchez ’24 wrote in a joint email to the Record. “Instead, JAAB is working hard with our campus partners to strengthen the JA support network for the incoming class.”

Besides a sizable decline in the College’s endowment, another factor that has influenced the College’s budgeting is inflation. As of March 2023, the annual rate of inflation over the previous year was five percent, meaning that $4,000 in March 2022 is equivalent in real terms to roughly $4,200 in today’s dollars.

“Members of JAAB have informally raised the idea of increasing the [stipend] amount for the work that JAs invest in the first-year class,” JAAB member Hannah Bae ’24 told the Record. “In the future, I would support an increase in amounts, but at the moment, I’m grateful for the foundation that has been set to ensure compensation for next year’s JAAB and JAs.”

JAAB has not reached out about this subject to College administration, according to Bae, Kirtane, and Sanchez.

This story was updated on Apr. 26 at 8:02 a.m. to clarify that $4,000 in March 2022 is equivalent in real terms to roughly $4,200 in today’s dollars. It previously stated that $4,000 in March 2022 is equivalent in real terms to roughly $3,810 in today’s dollars, when in fact $3,810 in March 2022 is equivalent in real terms to $4,000 in today’s dollars.