The Human Resources department recently emailed student workers, detailing an edict that from September 20th going forward, students will only be allowed to work in two departments on campus. There are a number of problems with this new rule. One of them is that the initial email was sent on August 13th, which is the day before school started. Such short notice of such a significant change has seriously hurt many students on campus. For students who were counting on the income from multiple jobs over the course of the semester, the out-of-the-blue change causes serious financial strain.
I am one of those students. Had I known I would not be able to make the money that I anticipated earning during the semester, I would have changed my summer employment plans to include another job instead of an unpaid internship that offered experience in my field of study. When the new rule takes effect, I will be unable to bring in enough money every month to cover my tuition payments to the college. As a senior, I should be enjoying our campus traditions, looking forward to graduation and planning my future studies. Instead, I’m forced to worry about how to pay for my last year of my undergraduate degree. I am not the only person affected by this abrupt change, however.
International students are prohibited from working off campus. If they need to make money to pay for school, buy groceries or pay rent, their sole source of income is the college. They have no choice but to work on campus, and if two departments cannot provide the income to pay the bills, these students have no alternative but even more student debt.
Department heads are also affected. Many, if not all, hiring decisions have already been made for the fall semester. When student workers are forced to pick which jobs they will keep, departments will lose employees they have already interviewed, hired and trained. The department heads will then have to re-enter the long and complicated hiring process, and will probably be forced to select less qualified student employees, as those are the students left who are available to work.
The choice to restrict students to two departments might open opportunities for other students to hold jobs on campus, but it certainly hurts the students who already have and need those jobs. Departments that require specialized workers, such as the admissions office with its student ambassadors, will be hit hard as they lose qualified and trained workers. Residence Life might find that less people are willing to be RAs when taking that job means limiting your other employment to ten hours each week. So long as students work less than 20 hours per week, as mandated by federal law, it should not matter how many different jobs they hold. It is unreasonable to ask students who are counting on the income of the job they already have to quit, for the potential benefit of an unknown number of students who want to work on campus. It is especially absurd to announce this change the day before students return to classes and just over a month before it goes into effect.
If there really is an issue with too many workers and not enough jobs, there must be some way to lessen the impact on current workers. Make it so students can only work in two departments going forward, but don’t restrict the people who have earned the positions they hold. Let the heads of departments know about changes, so that they know why their student workers are quitting. Above all, if such a decision has to be made, give us more than a month’s notice.