After discovering a pay disparity between student note-takers hired by the Disability Services Office, The Connors Family Learning Center, and Learning Resources for Student Athletes, Learning Resources for Student Athletes is considering changing the payment rate for note-takers.
Boston College has three services which arrange academic accommodations and support for students with disabilities, including learning disabilities or otherwise. The Connors Family Learning Center (CFLC), Disability Services (DSO), and Learning Resources for Student Athletes (LRSA) all provide support for students with learning needs, which may include paying for another student to act as a note-taker.
The CFLC and DSO offer note-takers $100 as a lump sum at the end of the semester, but LRSA currently pay $10 per credit hour weekly, which means that a note-taker in a three credit course would receive $30 per week. This disparity has lead some students to believe that student athletes with learning disabilities are given greater priority over non-athlete students with learning disabilities.
Kathy Duggan, director of the CFLC, explained that the Connors Family Learning Center offers both mainstream tutoring offered in as many fields as possible and accommodations for students with learning disabilities. Ms. Duggan estimated that half of the freshman class utilizes the tutoring services, including many high achieving students striving to do even better.
Students are encouraged to book in advance for tutoring, and in addition to academic subjects, students can make appointments for academic coaching that will focus on time management and planning. This service was originally offered to students with learning disabilities, but has since been expanded as a mainstream service.
Documenting a learning disability requires proof of a prior history, extensive paperwork, and ultimately a convincing case that the disability creates “functional limitations” for the student.
Duggan was surprised to learn that LRSA is paying per credit hour. According to Duggan, all three centers previously used that pay scale, but after benchmarking against other universities and considering budgetary limitations, the CFLC and DSO standardized their pay to $100 a semester five years ago.
Following this conversation, the director of LRSA was contacted by the CFLC about the differences in their note taking pay rates.
Assistant director Patrice Bouzan said that they were surprised to learn that they were the last center still paying for their notes by credit hour and that they had never been brought up to speed with the decision to benchmark the note taking pay against other universities.
LRSA arranges test proctoring for athletes missing exams due to travel and runs parallel services to the CFLC, although student athletes may use services at either center. LRSA hires tutors as well, and tutoring may coincide with a requirement for student athletes of a particular team to participate in “study hall hours.”
Despite the common misconception, note-taking services are only available for student athletes with documented learning disabilities, which still must be certified by the CFLC.
Interim director Joseph Burns said that after being made aware of the pay rate disparity, they will consider matching the rate of $100 a semester as long as they are still able to find the needed note-takers. He expressed his appreciation that this was brought to light, and mentioned that it could potentially save LRSA a lot of money.