Online petition criticizes UK for housing resident advisors together

By Will Wright

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An online petition critizing UK for forcing resident advisors to live with other RAs has garnered more than 300 signatures since Tuesday.

The decision to have RAs room with each other ­– some will live with students until the student can be relocated – came after UK had more housing applications than it had rooms.

RAs will typically not share the same bedroom, but will stay in a suite with another RA and share a common area. The university will pay each RA $500 for every semester they must share a dorm.

Michael Carlton, an RA who started the petition, said many RAs feel like they’ve been lied to. RAs were told they would get their own dorm, Carlton said. Some RAs have already quit since Friday, when they were told about the decision.

“If they had told us when we applied in the spring … that this was going to happen, it definitely would have changed who applied (to be an RA),” Carlton said. “It really hinders our ability to do our job well. It makes an already emotionally draining job more emotionally draining.”

UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said  the university has a policy to not deny  housing for any student who wants to live on campus. RAs living together  is a result of that policy, Blanton said.

The university has invested more than $200 million through on new dorms and living-learning communities. Blanton said these living-learning spaces attract more students, and that’s a good thing.

“We should be happy that students want to live on campus at the University of Kentucky,” Blanton said. “This is a good thing, to have more students want to live on campus.”

The petition says UK should pay for additional temporary housing to board the overflow of students, “or simply reject applications.”

Carlton said RAs were also upset because they were not directly contacted by UK for input before the administration decided to make them room together.

“We’re not really upset at ResLife,” Carlton said. “We’re upset at the people above.”

Tony Ralph, director of Resident Life, said he supports UK’s decision.

“In particular, we support the fundamental principle of the university that we want all students, particularly first-year students, to be able to live on campus,” Ralph said. “This is Resident Life’s mission, after all.”

The Kirwan-Blanding towers, which will stand empty this coming fall, will not be used to accommodate this overflow, Blanton said.