PERSPECTIVE: Give Provost Scholars pay to be RAs

By Joshua Edgren
Guest Writer

College is expensive.

Happy-go-lucky high school graduates enroll in a university, and suddenly words such as “tuition” and “housing” and “lab fees” carry dark and sinister meanings.

Suppose a freshman is awarded a scholarship, but that scholarship comes to about $10,000 a year short of what he needs. Suppose that freshman, for whatever reason, has parents who are unable to help with costs.

Suppose that freshman feels strongly about not going into debt, perhaps with the mission field in mind. Suppose the demands of keeping up grades, and consequently keeping scholarships, prevents that freshman from acquiring an off-campus job.

Suppose that freshman is not eligible to receive grants from government or private organizations. This may seem an unlikely set of circumstances, but it is precisely the predicament that many Provost Scholars experience at Union.

Provost Scholars are those who are awarded a Provost Scholarship through the Scholars of Excellence competition. It covers the total cost of tuition.

This is a generous scholarship that is not to be taken lightly or disregarded in the slightest. But the hard truth remains: Room and board, which is not covered by the scholarship, costs just shy of $10,000 a year.

Because Provost Scholars are prohibited from receiving further financial compensation from Union, those who lack wealthy parents or are, by principle, unwilling to borrow money, are in a bit of a quandary.

For this reason I suggested to senior leadership at a recent Student Senate meeting that Provost Scholars serving as residence advisers be paid half the customary amount.

Theoretically, these students are awarded scholarships because they possess certain admirable qualities. Thus, including them in the selection process should increase the overall quality of the residence staff.

Many Provost Scholars desire to be RAs but cannot justify the “opportunity cost” and do not apply.

The situation is regrettable for students and residence staff as a whole. Paying them half the normal amount would free up a sizable amount of funds to go elsewhere, perhaps to give aid to other students with financial need.

Student Senate members approved the idea, and it has the support of the residence directors. In addition, my idea was developed with the advice and encouragement of Kimberly Thornbury, dean of students.

Perhaps the benefit will not be deemed worth the alteration of policy, but it seems to me that would be a shame.

Joshua Edgren is a freshman physics major.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.