“Don’t RCCs just refill the printer paper?”

Every dorm on the Stanford campus has staff members. Resident assistants (RAs) are a traditional staff position. They’re the ones dealing with silly freshmen getting too drunk, planning events for the dorm, and making sure the dorm doesn’t implode. They’re the crucial ones.

Stanford, being technologically focused, also hires what we call Resident Computer Consultants (RCCs). The official job description states that RCCs “educate residents on all aspects of computing at Stanford, consult with residents on computer related problems, and support residential network connections and residence computer clusters.” Residence computer clusters are rooms in every dorm with a set of public computers and a printer for residents to work. Think of RCCs as in-dorm tech support and cluster upkeep for the residents.

In terms of in-dorm tech support, the most common problems we face are devices unable to access the network. There are a number of reasons, but typically we just go into our channels and tweak a few numbers to make things happy-happy again. At the beginning of the year, when people are moving into the dorms, the number of issues skyrockets, but after a few weeks, the number of issues settles down.

In terms of cluster upkeep, we make sure the printers always have paper. We also make sure the computers are up and running, and we occasionally will clean out the desks. But the printers must always have paper.

To become one of approximately one hundred RCCs on campus, students go through a simple application process in winter quarter of the preceding year. Then, a few weeks before the academic year begins, staff members attend training sessions to prepare them for the job. My dorm, Crothers, is a 380-person dorm with a staff of 21, 4 of whom are RCCs.

In addition to being an RCC for the dorm, I am also dorm treasurer. Actually, I spend more time doing treasurer-related things than RCC-related things, so you could say I’m first and foremost treasurer, with RCC-ing as my side gig.

Being treasurer requires that I manage about $75k of funding over the academic year, so I have to keep detailed records, write reimbursement checks, and balance our money accounts. The job is simple — it’s just a matter of crossing t’s and dotting i’s and keeping the money flowing. Occasionally, I might have to draw up a budget, but budgeting is fun for me, so the time flies.

I love my job as a member of our staff — both as treasurer and as an RCC. As an RCC, I’m treated as one of the family, not just one of the weird tech kids in the corner. I’m in staff meetings, mostly as an observer. I’m helping residents out at all hours of the day. As treasurer, I am indirectly involved in everything that happens in the dorm. I see how money flows in and out of our accounts. I watch our broad spending habits. I watch the numbers balance.

But the most important part of my job, by far, is filling the printer paper. The printers must always have paper.

Aside

In recent years, public opinion of RCCs has slipped. When I told other students about how I was applying to RCC, they asked, “Don’t RCCs just refill the printer paper?”

To some extent, this is true. In a larger dorm, with more than one RCC, the team can run into the free rider problem. (I’m happy to report that our team is doing a solid job of balancing the workload. Because we’re awesome.) Furthermore, because RCCs are paid on a quarterly stipend, RCCs can increase their hourly rate by decreasing the amount of time they work over a quarter. There is no reason for RCCs to work hard; investing minimal effort is the economic strategy.

Some RCCs truly want to help the dorm. These RCCs want to get experience working in a more service-oriented position, take their jobs seriously, and make the lives of students a little less cumbersome. These are the golden ones. These are the ones who succeed.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Calvin Ling’s story.