Massachusetts Daily Collegian

You may need to sit down for this: RAs and PMs finally granted just cause

By Morning Wood Staff

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Collegian File Photo

(Collegian File Photo)

By Baulso Harde

In a sudden turn of events, University of Massachusetts administration shockingly acknowledged that resident assistants and peer mentors are also human beings, granting them just cause in their contracts Friday.

In his 17th email to the campus community this week, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy wrote, “Our residential life team works tirelessly to maintain safety and comfort in our halls. We are thankful for their dedication to this community, and are glad to announce that they will now have the fair opportunity to appeal to a third party in disciplinary actions.”

The contract decision came following “Be an RA/PM for a day,” where administrators spent a day working as an RA or PM.

“Literally, I can’t even,” Director of Residence Education Jean Ahstrand MacKimmie said. “I couldn’t even make a decent bulletin board. And University residents surveyed in the fall reported the highest levels of satisfaction. We should probably give these student workers some raises as well.”

As members of UAW Local 2322, student residential life workers were the only unionized employees on campus without just cause. Without the provision, RAs and PMs who were fired could only file an online appeal to Residential Life.

It turned out that the likelihood of a successful appeal decision by the same system doing the firing was staggeringly low.

Students outside of residential life appeared entirely careless until an overly passionate RA explained in great detail a specific anecdote of an RA they knew who was fired for a reason that demanded the kind of perspective and context that couldn’t be explained in an online appeal.

“Wow,” said sophomore Joe Smith with slight enthusiasm. “That sucks. Too bad they didn’t have just cause back then.”

Representatives of UAW Local 2322 were pleased with the decision, though they look ahead to see how else they can fight for the rights of RAs and PMs.

“Today is a victory for our student residential life employees. The University no longer has to be ashamed of itself,” said Representative Court Cline. “However, the struggle for labor justice never ends. Now we need another phrase to put in front of ‘No Peace.’ Got anything in mind?” he asked.

RAs and PMs celebrated across campus, though some residents were unsure why.

Emerson RA Bob Dylan danced down his hallway, smiling and giving chocolates to his freshmen residents.

“I think he might have just become an uncle,” said freshman resident Jessica Jones of Dylan.

Erin Eagleton, an RA in Cashin, said she was glad the administration recognized the necessity of just cause.

“Sometimes, when it comes to disciplinary stuff, Res Life gets it wrong. Everyone make mistakes,” Eagleton said.

Baulso Harde can be reached by her AIM screen name “unionzANDunicornz94.”

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