• Molly Callahan

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Molly Callahan. A white woman with short, curly brown hair, wearing glasses and a blue sweater, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Molly Callahan began her career at a small, family-owned newspaper where the newsroom housed computers that used floppy disks. Since then, her work has been picked up by the Associated Press and recognized by the Connecticut chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2016, she moved into a communications role at Northeastern University as part of its News@Northeastern reporting team. When she's not writing, Molly can be found rock climbing, biking around the city, or hanging out with her fiancée, Morgan, and their cat, Junie B. Jones. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 5 comments on BU RAs Authorize Four-Day Strike over Contract Negotiations

  1. As a supporter of the ResLife union strike at Boston University, it’s crucial to highlight the significance of invisible labor and the labor theory of value in this context. The strike initiated by nearly 300 resident assistants (RAs), graduate resident assistants (GRAs), and graduate hall assistants (GHAs) is a testament to the vital but often undervalued work performed by these student workers.

    Firstly, it’s essential to recognize that the labor of these ResLife workers goes beyond mere housing compensation. Their responsibilities entail addressing residence hall rules, building community among students, and dealing with a myriad of student conflicts and crises. This round-the-clock labor, often unseen and unacknowledged, contributes significantly to the smooth functioning of BU’s residential life.

    From a Marxist perspective, the labor theory of value posits that the value of a commodity is determined by the amount of socially necessary labor time required for its production. In the case of ResLife workers, their labor is not adequately compensated by free housing and meal plans alone. The additional financial compensation they are seeking is a rightful demand considering the labor-intensive nature of their roles and the value they bring to BU’s campus community.

    Moreover, the strike highlights broader issues of exploitation and inequality within capitalist structures. The fact that these student workers are struggling to find financial and academic stability despite their critical contributions speaks volumes about the disparities inherent in the system. BU, as an institution with significant resources, has the capacity and responsibility to invest in its workers and ensure fair compensation for their labor.

    The offers presented by the University, while addressing some concerns, still fall short of recognizing the full value of the labor performed by ResLife workers. Free housing and meal plans are essential but do not adequately compensate for the extensive responsibilities and challenges faced by these student workers.

    In short, supporting the ResLife union strike is not just about addressing immediate grievances but also about advocating for fair compensation, recognition of invisible labor, and a more equitable campus environment for all.

  2. Interesting to note that one of the demands to avert the strike (according to the reslife union instagram page) was medical leave, and one of the things left off of the BU FAQ is medical leave.

    If an RA is hospitalized, or otherwise sick, are they supposed to still work? It is crazy to me that there are any jobs you can get where sick days are not a thing, let alone a job that is actively fighting to prevent giving RAs sick days.

  3. I looked through BU’s FAQ. The fact that it took this much to get the university to offer RAs rooms with air conditioning during the summer is insane. The RAs have also had to beg for CPR and Narcan training, which seem like bare minimum expectations for someone who may be a first responder to an emergency or crisis. Have RAs been responding to medical emergencies and mental crises without basic first-aid knowledge?

    I hope this opens people’s eyes to how much we demand out of these student workers and how little they legitimately get in return. The university makes free housing seem like generosity, but these students are expected to be available and prepared to respond 24/7/365, all while completing coursework and planning events for the university. I wish the union the best with their demands. We see the work you do and are so grateful! :)

  4. Alumnus

    I could not agree more with the graduate students observation. One macro issue is that BU leaders need to focus more on the student experience and less on the bloated staffing of the inner offices. With hundreds of VPs across the campus earning high wages. It highlights the already bloated staff in Office of the President and Provost. And what on earth does the VP for “auxiliary Services” contribute to the campus. They have another layer and layer of management. And can’t figure out how to provide air conditioning during the summer season.

    The executives in charge of the RA programs clearly are weak leaders.

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