Wesleyan University is a leader not just among peer colleges for the quality of education, but also in its community impact, helping to shape Middletown into a leading progressive city in the state of Connecticut. As a near-fully residential college, Residential Life (ResLife) student workers are foundational to Wesleyan’s success and leadership.

Now, Wesleyan’s ResLife student workers—including Resident Advisors (RAs), Community Advisors (CAs), and House Managers (HMs)—are exercising a fundamental right that all workers have in this country: the right to bargain collectively and to form a union. As elected officials representing Middletown, we fully support their efforts to seek voluntary recognition from Wesleyan University, and call on Wesleyan to remain neutral throughout the unionization process.

Generations of Wesleyan’s ResLife student workers have been overworked and underpaid, receiving a stipend of a few thousand dollars for a job that requires workers to be “on-call” nearly 24/7. This stipend does not even cover room and board, a bar that universities with smaller endowments have met, such as UConn and the four Connecticut State Universities.

During the pandemic, ResLife student workers have also endured poor and hazardous working conditions without adequate support and protections. As COVID-19 swept across the nation, ResLife student workers were expected to remain on campus to help students move out. A petition which received hundreds of signatures from the campus community asked that ResLife staff receive $250 in hazard pay for this dangerous work, which Wesleyan refused to provide.1 2

As a workforce overrepresented in students of color, first-generation, and low-income students, Wesleyan should fairly compensate some of its most economically vulnerable students, especially as their service requires them to be in constant physical contact with peers during a deadly pandemic. These are essential workers who have a right to advocate for improved working conditions and a seat at the bargaining table.

Current sectors of employees of Wesleyan are represented by three unions on campus, and these unions have helped secure fair pay and benefits for workers in ongoing dialogues and negotiations with Wesleyan. There is no reason that student workers, especially those who put in nearly as many hours as other unionized staff at Wesleyan, should not be allowed to unionize as well.

Equity in education is an imperative goal that Wesleyan and all Connecticut colleges and universities strive to achieve. It is clear that Wesleyan’s ResLife student workers are forming a union for that purpose, and to better serve their residents in the wake of this pandemic and low morale.

As elected officials representing Middletown, we hope that Wesleyan will not only remain neutral throughout the unionization process, but take steps to voluntarily recognize the union. 



Mayor Ben Florsheim ’14

State Senator Matt Lesser ’10

State Representative Quentin “Q” Williams (former Bryant University RA)

State Representative Brandon Chafee


Ben Florsheim, Matt Lesser, Quentin “Q” Williams, and Brandon Chafee are elected officials who represent the City of  Middletown.

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