Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

VIEWPOINT: Support the Resident Assistant Union


CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses suicide. Please refer to the end of the article for on- and off-campus resources.

For more than a hundred students on campus, anxiety will plague the next two weeks, but hope will illuminate them.

Georgetown University’s resident assistants (RAs) are counting down the days until we vote April 16 to determine whether our organization, the Georgetown Resident Assistant Coalition (GRAC), will become a university-recognized union. 

After acquiring the signatures of much more than the minimum recommended ⅔ of potential members — 85 of Georgetown’s 103 RAs signed a petition to unionize — GRAC submitted a letter to Georgetown March 22. We completed this step in record time for an RA unionization movement. In the letter, we requested that the administration voluntarily recognize us as a union, partnering with the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents many higher-education employees, including RAs at other universities. 

Since Georgetown denied this request, we will hold an election, our final step in acquiring the power needed to secure a just workplace. 

My drive to be an organizer for GRAC originally arose from my fear of the loan collection letters that will begin lunging for me the day after I graduate in May.

For the past four years, outside of my RA work, I have alternated between working full-time and part-time to afford to attend Georgetown. I have worked in warehouses and restaurants while my peers go out with their friends, but I never batted an eye. After all, I am living out my dream of being a Hoya.

To this day, I feel blessed to be here. However, I have recently realized that my financial anxiety does not need to be this severe. Georgetown provides RAs with room and board — but many of us must waive a large portion of our university-provided financial aid, as well as our federal work-study scholarship, to accept this offer. We settle for a slight net benefit. 

In other words, my financial aid gets stripped from me because I have taken another job. 

Being an RA cost me around $120,000 in guaranteed aid because RA’s compensation does not stack with preexisting financial aid. Many RAs have lost much more. This is $120,000 that could go to my post-graduate rent, my future family and my ability to pursue my love for environmental activism stress-free — but instead, it will go toward my student loans.

My name is Nico Reyes; I am one of the faces of GRAC and I refuse to be ignored.

In September 2022, RA Ally Sacamano (SFS ’25) witnessed her friend’s attempted suicide. The university instructs the responding supervisor, known at Georgetown as a community director on duty (CDOD), to treat suicide-related incidents as emergencies and provide the highest level of support. However, Ally said, the CDOD took two days to reach out to her in the aftermath. Ally said she received no communication regarding counseling, academic support or, most traumatically, help cleaning up the blood during that time. 

Ally said when the CD did reach out to her, they simply reminded her of the same mental health services that the university instructs RAs to offer their residents, which include Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and Student Outreach and Support (SOS). Ally said the CD — a Georgetown employee whose job is to support their residents and RAs — never offered to help her coordinate counseling or provide academic support. Ally said she reported the events to Residential Living’s directors, yet Georgetown not only kept this CD on staff but moved them into higher-value housing.

At the start of the following semester, Ally endured the suicide prevention presentation given to RAs every summer — and this time, it was the same CD that failed Ally who stood at the podium. 

Ally is one of the faces of GRAC, and she refuses to be ignored.

Sam Lovell (CAS ’25) has endured the challenges of unequal staffing ratios across communities. Izzy Wagener (SFS ’26) nearly lost her job when her CDs accused her of failing to respond to an incident on her floor — until, she said, she urged management to investigate, uncovering both a report she filed and a phone call she made to the CDOD, both of which she said had gone unacknowledged. Jessica Solomon (MSB ’25) has witnessed our higher-ups’ indifference toward medical emergencies and intruders. 

We, and the other 80 RAs who have already declared their commitment to unionization, know that with an organization prepared to collectively protest and bargain, these issues will become a priority. Gone will be the days of Georgetown meeting us with empty nods. Our stories will forge agreements, not apathy. 

We are the faces of GRAC, and we refuse to be ignored. 

If Georgetown’s treatment of RAs outrages you, join our cause. If you believe every student is entitled to fair financial and emotional support, join our cause. If you believe that we are more than the people who make your silly door decorations, join our cause. You can join the 300+ people who have signed our petition and follow our Instagram account (grac_united) to make sure you are informed of our efforts.

We need your support. We need to be heard. We need a union.

Nico Reyes is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences.

To access mental health resources, reach out to Counseling and Psychiatric Services at 202-687-6985, or for after-hours emergencies, call 202-444-7243 and ask to speak to the on-call clinician. You can also reach out to Health Education Services at 202-687-8949. Both of these resources are confidential.

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