By Henri Gendreau
Despite recent concerns about how well Community Advisors (CAs) are compensated, 88 applications were submitted for the 2013-2014 school year to fill 46 slots.
This breaks a five-year record at least, according to Lindsay Faulstick, associate director for Housing and Residential Life.
With 33 returning CAs and 55 new applicants, the applicant pool saw an 89-percent return-rate of eligible CAs, the highest return rate Housing and Residential Life has ever seen, said Alicia Dugas, assistant dean of students for Housing and Residential Life. The return rate for the 2012-2103 school year was 55 percent.
Two major factors often deter prospective CAs from applying or from accepting a position offered to them.
We actually track the reasons why theylet us know theyre not planning on doing it, Dugas said. What we hear overwhelmingly every single year, from our top candidates, is just that their financial aid package is negatively affected, and so theyre unable to do it.
For example, when a student is on need-based financial aid and receives benefits in connection with being a CA, like a stipend and room and board, it reduces the amount of aid the student is considered to need, and thus the amount of aid the student receives as a CA. The issue is where is the money coming from? Dugas said, And if its coming from a loan, then that might be in the CAs advantage to be a CA. If its coming from a grant, then thats something else to consider.
Weve worked with [the office of] financial aid, and we have tried to examine lots of different options, she added.
Another financial sticking point that has come under fire recently, in the wake of an editorial published in the Collegian on Thursday, Jan. 24 calling for greater benefits for CAs, is the perceived notion that CAs are not well compensated for their work.
[Housing and Residential Life] ask for very tough realistic standards to meet, said Kenny Fedorko 13, a current CA in McBride Residence Hall. Some people meet them. I cant. But I still do an effective amount to reach 70 to 80 percent of what a CA is required. And I admire those people that make 100 percent.
We really cant do everything thats expected all the time, said a former CA.
Though CAs feel as though the bar is sometimes set above and beyond what is feasible, their salary does not reflect the high standards their job requires.
I think the salary issue is one that certainly has been raised before and continues to be a concern for our CAs, Dugas said.
If you look at their hourly salary, its lower than any other paid position on campus. Thats a concern for me and has always been a concern for me.
The Deans Advisory Council, which is made up of CAs, is going to be working on this issue and has been working on the issue, she added. That was unfortunate that the opinion piece didnt state that, that CAs are actually in the process of working on it.
Unlike hourly wages, the $1,400 stipend per semester that CAs receive does not have to conform with Ohio minimum wage laws. Advertised as a 20-hour a week job, the duties of the CA are hard to quantify, Faulstick said.
Its really hard to put hours on the work that a CA does, Faulstick said, because they could be walking to class and see a resident and be building community by just talking with them as theyre walking down Middle Path.
Very few of those  hours are going to feel like, Im sitting at a desk and doing a job, she continued.
Its more like experiencing building a community for other students at Kenyon making this the type of place people enjoy living [in] and not just any old sort of dorm. Its not a dorm. Its a residential experience.
With the smell of reform in the air and fresh staff, Faulstick remains upbeat about the potential for change.
I would say theres been a lot of really cool, fun and exciting changes within our department, she said. I think were going in a really cool direction.