Residence Life Budget Faces COVID-19’s Impact
Olivia Allery, news editor
Residence Life is a huge part of campus life, mainly providing those who live on and off campus the collegiate experience they deserve. This includes making sure there are Resident Advisors (RAs) employed, that there is always someone to address living concerns with, facilities are working properly in dorms, and engaging the student body to help build a sense of community here at Augsburg. They recently had a budget cut of 20%.
Vice President of Operations, Rebecca John, Director of Residence Life, Emily Long and Dean of Students Sarah Griesse explained the budget cut mostly was in response to the pandemic. “Many of the changes that have been driven by the pandemic have had financial implications for the university. For example, we froze traditional undergraduate tuition rates for Fall 2020 instead of increasing tuition as had been approved by the Board of Regents the previous year,” Long stated in an email to the Echo.
Long, Griesse and John all agreed that the biggest impact of the pandemic being Augsburg students choosing not to live on campus. “With a decreased on campus residential student population, lower tuition revenue, and added expense of responding to pandemic related needs, Augsburg must remain particularly diligent about how we utilize institutional budgets. Departments across campus — not just within Residence Life — are working to reduce budget expenditures during this time.”
A Residential Advisor (RA) who chose to remain anonymous shed light on the impacts of the budget cut on student workers in a correspondence with the Echo. “The pay has not changed, it is still receiving a stipend and housing is paid for, but pay has not changed in quite awhile, which is difficult because of inflation and the pay is not the same compared to how other universities compensate their residence life staff,” they said. “Besides not being able to put on all the events that we would like to be doing there is not really any other changes.”
“The Board of Directors is still expecting the same amount of work to engage the student body but Residence Life is not getting the funding to do so.,” the RA continued. There is a lack of communication between those higher ups and organizations like Department of Public Safety, Residence Life and Food Services because we are not receiving adequate funding for the events expected while not having the same budget as Campus Life and other campus organizations.”
The cut has necessitated that student workers try to find funding through other avenues. “Residence Life is trying to advocate for themselves by other means with the budget cut, and student staff of Residence Life and are actually working to be considered a student organization so they can get funding to perform their jobs that way, since they aren’t getting it by other means,” said the anonymous RA. “The Residence Life department is actually fighting this fight with their staff and students. Professional Staff aren’t to blame because they are just following the protocol of what Augsburg has decided to do but Administrative staff really needs to realize that you cannot have a department without the proper funding.”