Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3 - 83

The Price of Hiring Resident Assistants

position and salary levels, number of participating staff, and to what degree of participation staff maintain; and, various evaluation
metrics. In an effort to focus on analyzing
the human capital and personnel resources
invested in hiring RAs, we felt it necessary
to either eliminate or explicitly define extraneous variables not vital to the purpose of
this study a priori. Generally, in an effort to
avoid overstating the effects, assumptions
and parameters were generally designed to
yield a conservative result. Descriptions and
rationale for each analytical parameter and
assumption follow.

Staffing Structures
One complexity of RA hiring processes is
the variety of position levels participating in
the process. For our analysis, we assumed
the most common and frequently represented positions involved in facilitating RA
hiring processes were the only participating
positions: full-time, entry-level (FTEL) positions as defined in the ACUHO-I Campus
Housing Index (e.g., Hall Director, Residence Director, Residence Life Coordinator;
ACUHO-I, 2020, p. 12) and paraprofessional student staff (e.g., Resident Advisor,
Resident Assistant, Peer Advisor). While
mid-level and senior-level positions may be
involved on individual campuses, their participation is often minimal from a time investment standpoint, both in terms of fewer
available staff at those levels and their direct
time contributions. By excluding higher-level positions (which typically have higher salary values), all results will be conservative.

Graduate-level positions were also excluded
despite often representing greater participation rates compared to upper-level positions
to simplify the analysis due to high variability in graduate-level job requirements and
remuneration packages (i.e., stipend, tuition
remission, required weekly hours).

Salary and Remuneration Packages
Employing opportunity cost analysis requires
an understanding of wage rates (Kassouf,
1994); however, since there is no consistent
wage rate for staffing levels across the college housing industry, we elected to create
standardized hourly wage rates. Although
entry-level staff remuneration packages often include benefits above and beyond salary
(e.g., full or partial housing discounts, meal
plans, tuition waivers or remission, professional development funds, fringe benefits;
Horvath & Stack, 2013), we only considered
their salary wages in the analysis because
" simply put, salaries are the first benefit
candidates see and, among entry-level professionals, what they hold in highest regard "
(ACUHO-I, 2020, p. 10). We standardized
salary to reflect the all-campus average salary
for entry-level staff of $36,000 (ACUHO-I,
2020, p. 12), which converts to an hourly rate
of $17.31.
	
RA benefit packages vary even more
dramatically compared to entry-level staff.
Some departments offer full room and board
discounts while some offer partial discounts.
Other departments may provide no discount,
instead offering a more substantial stipend.
Despite the wide variety in benefit packages,

Due to the time commitment required of housing staff
to facilitate multi-faceted RA hiring processes, opportunity costs
served as an appropriate lens because it quantified the personnel
resources while illuminating potential lost opportunities.

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The Journal of College and University Student Housing



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

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