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Fifth-year students no longer permitted to serve as Resident Advisors per new HRL policy

Starting in 2025, students in their fifth year of one of U.Va.’s 4+1 Master’s programs will not be eligible to be Resident Advisors

Fifth-year students will still be eligible to serve as part of the Residence Life Leadership Team.
Fifth-year students will still be eligible to serve as part of the Residence Life Leadership Team.

The University’s Housing and Residence life recently implemented a new policy which will prevent future students in their fifth year of completing a 4+1 master’s program from serving as Resident Advisors or Senior Residents in undergraduate housing. 

4+1 programs in areas such as Public Health Sciences and the accelerated master’s in the Batten school allow undergraduate students to begin graduate work early to obtain a master’s degree just one year after graduation. This HRL new policy goes into effect with the Class of 2025 — current fourth years in the Class of 2024 will still be able to serve in their fifth year. 

Resident Advisors receive free housing and a partial meal plan as benefits. By eliminating access to these advantages, fifth-year Batten student Holly Sims said she personally worries this policy may deter students from continuing their education at the University. 

“This policy could potentially completely change some students’ advanced degree planning,” Sims said. “Any third or second years who had been relying on financial assistance may not be able to stay at U.Va. to pursue their advanced degree.”

While HRL did not provide a figure for the total number of fifth-year RAs, there are currently five fifth-year SRs out of a total of 28 SRs — students who lead the residential staff within a building. Sims also serves as a Senior Resident.

Fifth-year students will still be eligible to serve as part of the Residence Life Leadership Team, a group of six student leaders who oversee management of RAs. Fifth-years may also lead as Community Assistants — mentors who live in graduate housing to provide support for residents adjusting to University life.

University spokesperson Bethanie Glover said Housing and Residence Life made this decision based on the differing academic calendars of fifth-year programs. 

“These schedules often conflict with required training, opening and closing for the dorms, which are integral to both [the RA and SR] positions.” Glover said in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily.

Despite HRL’s reasoning, Sims noted that not all fifth-year academic calendars conflict with the University’s undergraduate calendar. Sims said this policy may contribute to a loss of experience among RA staff.

“Fifth years are often the most experienced members of the program, and precluding them from contributing their expertise to the program is a disservice to them and residents,” Sims said. 

RA applications for the next academic year opened Monday and will close Oct.11. HRL is holding information sessions throughout the next month for applicants interested in learning more.

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