Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor
Every year, faculty planners are paid through compliments of their parallel programming and through reps expressing appreciation for their coordinators’ work.
And … that’s all that they’re paid with. No job, no honorarium or gift card, just through their really rewarding volunteer experience.
However, they should be receiving some kind of financial compensation for their work.
In 2018, residence orientation advisors received a $1000 honorarium after completing the work stated in their contract. This past year, their contract changed so that they were paid minimum wage with varying hours, depending on the demand of the work that they will have during the year.
If you look at both the faculty planner and ROA role, they are very similar in function.
ROAs and faculty planners are involved in the hiring of welcome week representatives, supervision of first year orientation and the implementation of events during welcome week and the school year. They are both in charge of coordinating their team by assigning roles such as creating t-shirts, parallel programming, managing social media and more. In addition, they manage the budget for their building(s) or faculty and are responsible for reporting to the residence orientation planner who oversees the ROAs or welcome week faculty coordinator who oversees the faculty planners.
Evidently, becoming a planner or ROA is a huge time commitment which students should be reimbursed for, but pay disparity also affects the quality of welcome week programming.
Faculty planners are supposed to create programming that is representative of first year students in their respective faculties. However, because planners are unpaid, taking on this role requires a certain amount of financial privilege. Many lower to middle class students who attend university have to work a part-time or full-time job during the summer. But if you are a planner, the time commitment is so extensive that it would be very hard to hold a full-time job. Planning training, rep appreciation events and welcome week events occurs mainly in the summer which is why it can be difficult to simultaneously plan welcome week for free while working to pay off your rent, groceries and/or other expenses.
While not all planners are upper-class, the lack of pay can be an issue because it can result in programming that is less representative for first years. First years come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. While class may not initially seem to have much of an effect on programming, it can have a lasting effect on first years.
Oftentimes, first years come into welcome week scared and unsure of what to expect; if they attend events planned by someone who has no experience with financial insecurity, then they may feel more alone. Financial burdens affect every part of a person’s identity and if you have had no personal experience with financial insecurity, then it can show in the way you interact with others.
Class issues are always relevant and they intersect our lives in every way. It can be a butterfly effect — you may plan an event or fundraiser that does not take into account that some students cannot afford to pay for anything but their own necessities. You may interact with first years and not be able to empathize with their struggles. You may not even take into consideration exactly how many reps may need financial support during welcome week, or how hard it is to ask for financial aid.
With that being said, not all planners are upper-class. There are planners who do hold a paid job while coordinating welcome week, but it can get stressful to manage a job on top of planning and that may come at the expense of your health and wellbeing. In addition, if faculty planning was a paid position, planners would be able to devote more time towards developing high quality programming.
Being a faculty planner is hard work. Your planning can affect first years in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. However, without compensation, being a planner can seem like an unreachable dream for lower-class students. If planners were given some kind of compensation, they can more adequately create programming that actually represents their diverse body of first years.