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Student work hours cut; impacts students, faculty

Published: Monday, October 22, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 18:10


This school year, Roosevelt University reduced the maximum amount of paid hours student workers are allowed to work per week from 17 to 12.

This five-hour reduction affects students, faculty and staff members, and according to Tina Gaddy, director of Career Development, the reduction is permanent.

“Enrollment is down,” Gaddy said. “Financial aid is down. That means we got less money from the Federal Work-Study program and less money from the university to fund or supplement where we fell short on [federal work study]. With less money and more students needing jobs, we felt that instead of staying at 17 hours a week, we’d cap it at 12 so more students would have an opportunity to work.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education Higher Education Act of 1965, federal work study funds are allotted based on “needs, number of students and types of services” and “level of expenditures for students enrolled in private schools,” among other factors.

Joe Mix, assistant director of the Office of Student Employment at DePaul University said there has been no change to federal work study this year.

According to the Student Financial Services Office at Columbia College Chicago, the college also has not seen any change to federal work study.

Currently, 550 students are employed at the Roosevelt, according to Aaron Kennedy, Office of Career Development student employment specialist. Students are allowed to work multiple jobs but have a cap of 24 hours per pay period.

“The Office of Career Development is open and able to assist students in finding off-campus opportunities,” Kennedy said. “As recently as Oct. 5, the Office of Career Development held an event called Hire Week. During that week, we brought a variety of companies on campus to interview students for off-campus positions.”

According to Gaddy, there were discrepancies in pay in student employment last year between federal work study students and non-federal work study students.

“One student is a file clerk getting paid $7 or $8 an hour, and another student is doing the same job getting $20 an hour because of the funding source,” she said.

The Office of Career Development handles all student worker funds this year, as opposed to each department having its own student employment budget.

Gaddy said she has received complaints from faculty and staff regarding the hour cut.

“They were used to having student workers for more hours,” she said.

Chris Chulos, associate professor of modern European history and department chair of history and philosophy, manages one student worker.

“Our student worker has less time to complete tasks, which means that certain tasks simply are delayed or are left undone,” he said. “I am of two minds. On the one hand, I feel that every effort should be made to support students. On the other hand, when reduced support is inevitable, the reductions should be made equitably to lessen the burden placed on students and the departments they work for.”

Daniel Smrokowski has been a student lab aide in the Department of Communications for three years. He was impacted by the hour cut.

“It’s been hard because we haven’t been able to get paid as much as we did before or get any raises,” he said.

Gaddy and Kennedy both said they encourage students to seek part-time off-campus employment opportunities.

“Students are more than welcome to come to the Office of Career Development to discuss those options,” Kennedy said.

According to Gaddy, the student worker program was cut roughly $1 million.

“With that cut, we had to make changes,” she said. “What we really want to do is stabilize student employment”.

Gaddy added that student employment opportunities are posted on the eRecruiting website and used to differentiate between federal work study and non-federal work study positions. This distinction is no longer made.

“Student employment should be meaningful employment that gives you a chance to learn things so you have valuable experience in the real world,” she said.

Kennedy said a benefit to the hour cut is that students now have more time to pursue other opportunities and focus on academics.

“It also opens the door for more students to have on-campus jobs,” he said. “Departments who used to have one student at 17 hours per week now can hire another student to cover those five hours that the department might need coverage.”

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