Visa laws force changes

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Photo courtesy of Fr. Fucinaro.

After operating for years in a legal gray area, the Rome Resident Coordinator (RC) position will now require that applicants work a minimum of one year on the Irving campus in order to qualify  for Italian work visas.

Current RCs Stephen Henderson, Anna Hotard and Rachel Parkey are on student visas since they are enrolled in classes and receive scholarships. However, the visa only allows them to work 20 hours per week.

“I can’t imagine that there was any week that we worked less than 40 [hours],” former RC Mike Pitstick said.

Vallery Hrbacek, who also worked as an RC until the summer of 2016, said the switch could work if RCs take care to redistribute work in the busiest periods, such as before the Greece trip. But the schedule, even discounting the hours they spent on call, never dipped to 20 hours per week.

“I don’t know if I even knew that I should be worried [about labor laws],” Hrbacek said. “In my mind it was a system that had worked for so many years before me.”

Lucas Preble, the director of student affairs on the Rome campus, is considered by the Italian government a qualified professional in his field of student life because he has worked at the university for more than a year. His work visa allows him to work in Italy for up to five years, and his hours are not so strictly limited.

Like Preble, next year’s RCs will have to have worked in Irving in order to qualify for a work visa. Though this work visa takes three months to process and is expensive, it is the ideal option for RCs to work in Rome under the new labor laws.

To accommodate the switch, Director of the Rome Campus Dr. Peter Hatlie has decided to reduce the number of RCs from three to two.

This reduction will affect the Student Ambassadors (SA), who are equivalent to Resident Assistants in Irving, by granting them more authority and raising their responsibilities. Because of these changes, future RCs and SAs will be even more carefully selected than before in order to choose the most mature and capable students.

“If I were an SA right now I’d be over the moon,” Seamus McGuire said.

Though he says his spring 2016 stint as an SA was crucial to his Rome experience,  he immediately craved more opportunities to deepen his involvement in student life.

“I knew the very first second I stepped on campus that I was going to be applying for Rome RC,” McGuire said. “I fell in love with campus, the idea of student life in Rome.”

Though he’s disappointed that he won’t qualify next year, he submitted an application anyway.

In addition to two RCs and four SAs, Hatlie is considering hiring a local Italian caretaker to do work that does not require student status, such as helping with the Cap Bar, being a chauffeur and helping with paperwork.

“This is one of the burdens you pay when you have a very ambitious program abroad,” Hatlie said. “We think it’s worth it.”

 

Last week’s “Visa laws force changes” article incorrectly referred to Student Assistants as Student Ambassadors.

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