An error at The University of Mississippi’s Department of Student Housing caused a delay in payment to around 130 student Community Assistants, formerly known as Residential Assistants, this month, leaving many to fend for themselves and inspiring others to help out.
CAs for the fall semester were required to arrive to campus on Aug. 3 and were supposed to receive their first paycheck on Aug. 15.
“The CAs are given the choice on how they want their compensation to be received, so we had to gather all of that information,” said Tracey Vaughn, interim director of student housing. “So to pay the students it has to go through multiple steps, it’s not just our office. It has to go through our office, the Vice Chancellor’s office and then to (Human Resources). HR has to enter all of that information to get it into the system. The deadline to have that information was on the ninth. So with the time there was no way we could have gotten all of those forms through.”
The compensation error caused outrage from many CA’s. One CA spoke with The DM, but wished to remain anonymous.
“I do not think they ever intended on paying us on the 15th,” the CA said. “I believe it was said as an incentive to get us back to school and motivated. And we were never given an explanation from the housing office.”
The next university payday is this Friday, which is 28 days since the CAs arrived on campus.
“(The unpaid employees) are all set to be paid on the 30th,” Vaughn said. “They will be paid for what they would have gotten on the 15th as well as the 30th.”
Many of the student employees expressed concerns about everyday life, such as having money to buy provisions.
Most university dining facilities were not open until Aug. 23. Ole Miss Housing offered boxed lunches to the student employees, but did not provide breakfast or dinner.
“When we first got here, the cafeterias were not open and paying for your own food got expensive, so they were also paying for that,” freshman business administration major Georgia Norfleet said.
Residential College South Senior Faculty Fellow Marvin King heard about the compensation confusion and wanted to help out.
“When I heard that the CAs didn’t get paid, I felt so bad,” King said. “They work so hard and the dining hall in the RC was closed. I asked what they would do for food and they said Housing provided them a boxed lunch each day. So, one night I bought them pizza from Soulshine and another night I brought in biscuit sandwiches from Embers. I didn’t think twice about it.”