Changes to meal plans impacts RAs

The Office of University Housing is located at 1596 Gibbs Hall Trail. Photo by Dymin Cannon

Florida A&M University’s housing department has been adjusting to unexpected changes within the program that occurred last fall. These changes have affected students who work as resident assistants (RA).

Student staff members were notified in March of 2019 of the regulation for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Kiera Mitchell, a junior accounting student from Pensacola, shared her experience as an RA.

“As a second-year resident assistant, I can say that my experience as an RA is an overall positive experience. I have learned how to interact and communicate with the various personalities within the residence halls and I believe that is one of the biggest tools to learn while working this job,” Mitchell said.

One of the major adjustments that RAs have faced is the change in their meal plan.

“Our meal plan expense exceeds the amount we are paid in our stipend. The cost of the meal plan is roughly $1500, and the stipend amount is $1200. As an accounting student and employee I have a basic understanding that an expense should not exceed income,” Mitchell said.

Another resident assistant, who asked to not be named for fear of retribution, shared her feelings about the changes.

“The RA meal plan was something new that was enforced. I am not aware of how the meal plans worked last year, but I know the meal plans included flex for RAs. This academic year the RA meal plan cost more than the stipend we receive, has limited meals and no flex or Rattler bucks,” she said.

Terrence Turner, assistant director of the Office of University Housing, said that different options were offered to RAs.

“There wasn’t a decrease in meal plans. Our campus partners in Business and Auxiliary Services provided us an exclusive meal plan for RAs. Those staff members who are mandated to have one, do have the option to sign up for any of the options available to the rest of the residential community, at their expense,” he said.

Turner also talked about housing policies and procedures that affect all RAs.

“We are constantly evaluating our policies and procedures that impact RAs. We provide RAs opportunities throughout the year to provide feedback on some of the items being considered. We have to successfully navigate campus regulations while ensuring that decisions align with our department’s mission and objectives. We try our best to keep staff informed as things develop, but always empower them to make decisions that reflect their needs,” he said.