Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3 - 80

The Price of Hiring Resident Assistants:
An Analysis of Human Capital,
Opportunity Costs, and Personnel Wages
EVALUATING CANDIDATES FOR THE RESIDENT ASSISTANT (RA)
position is typically a time consuming and resource intensive process. As a
result of the considerable-and necessary-human capital required to facilitate
multicomponent hiring processes, routine daily job responsibilities are often
limited, deferred, or eliminated altogether. Thus far, no scholarship exists exploring
the actual " cost " of evaluating RA candidates, both in terms of personnel time
and their associated wages. Put another way, the " opportunity cost " linked to
evaluating RAs is unknown, despite a general agreement of the scarcity of resources
in housing operations. To bridge this gap, this study presents alterations of various
magnitude to a standard baseline RA hiring process articulating the cost in both
time and wages of involved personnel. The results reveal tangible examples of how
even small intentional changes to standard hiring practices can release staff time
in meaningful amounts, which in turn allows for increased business continuity.
Strategies for intentionally navigating the time economy of hiring RAs are discussed.

S

chroeder and Pike (2001) described
the challenges facing higher education
practitioners with non-routine priorities as navigating the " tyranny of now " and
how the " problems of consequence are often
whatever is happening in the here and now! "
(p. 350). Compounding such sentiments,
universities and their individual functional
areas " strive to 'do more with less' " (Barnett,
2015b, p. 122), a common claim including
both budgets and staffing resources. These
feelings are aptly illustrated by Dilbert asking his boss on which category of priorities
he should stop working: essential, critical, or
must-have (Adams, 2007).

	
When managing additional-often competing-priorities, it becomes clear " human
capital is a significant factor both in terms
of input and output for modern enterprises "
(Chen & Lin, 2004, p. 117), which undoubtedly encompasses institutions of higher education and their housing units. On the individual employee level, college administrators
engage in " time-trading " and " time-bargaining " (Guzmán-Valenzuela & Barnett, 2013,
p. 1132), alternating attention from one priority to another (Ylijoki, 2015). Macroscopically, departments create systems which " are
designed to monitor the performance of both
physical and human resources " (Barnett,

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Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3

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