Saint Mary’s suspends positions for most student workers
Julianna McKenna | Monday, March 30, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the suspension of in-person classes for the rest of the semester, Saint Mary’s has suspended most on-campus student work positions.
“A small number of students who can perform their jobs from home, jobs that have been deemed as critical or essential by each division VP, continue to work for the college remotely,” Mona Bowe, vice president of enrollment management, said in an email.
Bowe acknowledged the difficulties this may pose to College students who rely on their campus jobs as a source of income.
“We understand and lament the financial impact this discontinuation has on some of our students,” Bowe said.
The suspension of student work positions has caused a lot of concerns for students, particularly those who participate in federal work study positions.
“The coronavirus has taken my only source of income,” junior Carina Garza said in email. “I relied heavily on my federal work study to pay for gas bills and food.”
Garza is disappointed by the decision and said she hopes the administration can work something out to compensate work study students in some way.
“The school should be giving hours to students who partake in the work study program,” Garza said. “Even if students are given 12 hours a week during the pay period, the money would definitely help especially for the students who need federal work study. I believe administration should get together and talk about what’s happening to the students who work on campus.”
Senior Emily Beam said in an email that she was able to transition her on-campus jobs to comply with the new online format.
“My supervisor contacted me last week saying she received approval that I could work remotely during this time,” she said. “She gave me the option to decide if I would want to work for her, but it was an obvious decision to keep working. I know I have to make a lot of adjustments to my life, and if I could help my supervisor through her adjustments and lighten her workload, I definitely wanted to do it.”
Despite efforts, senior Alexa Zapata Fernandez said in an email that she has not received much contact from departments since the College suspended campus jobs.
“I have been contacted by Career Crossings a few times and once by the [Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership] office,” Zapata Fernandez said. “Initially it was to let me know I could work during the extra week of spring break. But after everything changed, I was contacted that I was not able to work. I have not heard if I can do any work online.”
Zapata Fernandez is in a different situation than many other students, she said, because she needs her income from her campus jobs to provide for her son.
“I am very appreciative of everything both offices have done for me since I have worked for them,” Zapata Fernandez said. “However, I am a mom to a one, almost two-year-old son. I know my situation isn’t like most students, but my job(s) at Saint Mary’s and the income I got from that is what I used to pay bills and made sure I had money for supplies for my son.”
Senior Kirstin Sherman said in an email that she wishes the College communicated better with students because these decisions have significant impacts on their lives.
“These people are making huge decisions that impact our lives and we have heard nothing from them,” Sherman said. “Even if the communication says, ‘We don’t know yet,’ we should be kept in the loop.”
While the College has not made any formal decisions, they are working on a plan to provide a room and board stipend to students.
“The College is working hard to determine how room and board adjustments might be handled; clarification will be provided as soon as we know more,” Bowe said.
In the meantime, Bowe encourages students to use the career resources the College offers.
“I encourage students to check with the Career Crossings office for advice and tips for employment,” she said. “Stacie Jeffirs and her staff have some terrific resources for students, including daily virtual meetings.”
While the changes in the Saint Mary’s community have had dramatic impacts on students, Beam said being able to work remotely has brought a sense of normalcy and meaning.
“I am excited and grateful to be able to maintain some of my daily life, like working for the Office of Admission, during these trying times,” Beam said. “I was already extremely upset that my senior year was being cut short, but when my supervisor reached out to me about working remotely, it gave me another sense of purpose.”