RA-GAsummer
Photo: Hain Yoon

Both graduate associates and residential advisors are tasked with supporting their fellow students, but only GAs are permitted to stay in their dorm rooms over the summer. 

The RA contract starts a little more than a week before the beginning of the academic year and ends a few days after commencement. Those who are staying on campus over the summer must look for housing on their own, either by applying to stay in on-campus housing for the full rent or subletting from off-campus housing services.

College Houses and Academic Services runs both the RA and GA programs. Although the GA contract does not explicitly state that GAs can stay in college housing over the summer, it does include a line that is absent from the RA agreement: “College Houses and Academic Services or the House Dean may assign Graduate Associates who receive housing over the summer light duties.”

Screenshot / Penn College Houses

Harnwell College House RA and College senior Emily Marucci said that it is her understanding that all GAs have the opportunity to stay in the dorms for the summer while RAs can’t. 

Even though she was forced to move out of her dorm before returning for her second year as an RA to the same floor of Harnwell, Marucci said she did not think the lack of summer housing was a huge inconvenience because she spent her break interning in Cincinnati. 

“[I think the policy exists] because they know that RAs tend to go out of Philadelphia for the summer because we’re doing internships and various industries in other cities,” she said. “I think GAs tend to have classes during the summer and have already decided on their trajectory of study, so it makes more sense for them to stick around.”

She added that if RAs could stay in their rooms for the summer, she thought it might impede residential services from touching up and cleaning the rooms. 

Riepe Faculty Director Dennis DeTurck wrote in an email that his understanding of the policy is “that graduate students’ research work very often requires them to be in residence at Penn during the summer to do lab/library/other work toward their dissertations.”

“The expectation is that [undergraduates] generally do not stay around in the summertime (and in any case are not required by their degree programs to do so),” DeTurck wrote. 

College senior Francisco Gomez-Alvarado, who has been the Harrison College House third floor RA for two consecutive years, said that although he personally did not stay in Philadelphia last summer,  he understands that having to find and pay for temporary off-campus housing for the summer could be difficult for some RAs. 

“The biggest inconvenience is really just having to pack up and store all my belongings only to unpack them and unstore them into the same room,” he said. 

Marucci agreed, adding that it was a tight schedule to get all her belongings from summer storage back to her room when she had to return to campus early for training and said that she would appreciate it if the RA program offered summer storage for RAs.

“[The storage service] wouldn’t be super costly, I wouldn’t say, and they would still be able to lend out our space for … the programs they host over the summer,” she said. 

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