Student Workers Across Campus Face Reduced Hours
Luís Escobar, staff writer
Recent changes in student worker hours are making waves here on campus. Student employees in various departments on campus have reported reductions in their hours due to a myriad of reasons, and many student workers are seeing negative impacts.
Augsburg offers a variety of ways for students to be employed part time on campus, with many departments hiring students such as library services, Department of Public Safety (DPS), food services and student research. According to HR and Student Financial Services, “There are approximately 400 student jobs available on campus, most of which require work study eligibility.” Award packages for federal and state work-study are determined by financial need as reported through FAFSA. The amount a student earns cannot exceed their total work-study award included in their financial aid package unless otherwise organized by the institution.
Previously, on-campus jobs were not limited to work-study eligible students only. In a memo to student employment supervisors on Oct. 19, 2022, the Augsburg Student Employment Task Force reported that Augsburg is “returning to a needs-based student employment program on campus.”
Those working across campus are of the understanding that these changes in student work hours were predominantly made due to the increase in student wages and budget constraints. The increase in student wages was made official in an email sent to student employees by Charlotte Swanson on Aug. 31, 2022, which also stated the limit on student working hours to 20 hours per week during the semester, saying, “School is your first priority.”
A large number of students on campus are eligible for work study, thus the change in hours from last fall was an attempt to maximize the total number of students that could be employed by Augsburg. However, students seem to feel very strongly about the decisions made regarding its domino effect.
Departments that have student workers are given an allocated amount of hours to use during the year for student employment. “Departments manage their student workers according to these targets. At this point in the year, some departments may be adjusting student worker schedules to remain within their budgets,” says a statement from HR and Financial Services to the Echo.
Sebastian Hernandez, a third year DPS worker, stated that his “normal hours were 20 hours. Now, I’m trying hard to get 20 hours in a week. With the change in student hours, only one person can work at DPS at a time on weekends, unless it’s 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.” DPS is a 24/7 service, but with the change in hours there is a strain in the amount of student workers. It’s difficult for one person to handle emergencies which include phone calls, contacting officers and first responders and other tasks. Tasks are easier to distribute with two people, but they are forced to limit their availability.
The distribution of tasks in departments is not a challenge faced only by DPS, as other places on campus like the library are dealing with similar problems.
Swanson stated, “Lead student roles are no longer available. All students now receive the same pay rate.” A student worker in the library who wished to remain anonymous, mentioned that this has added a lot to their workload as they were formally in a lead student role, “Even with the supervisors positions being cut, we all had to perform supervisor’s duties [while] being paid less, and people like me had to train everyone that was new or not aware of the supervisor’s duties.” This student reported that in a lead position their hourly wage was 50 cents more.
Library student workers now work an average of 3.5 hours per week, compared to many working 10-20 in the fall semester. “What I am most upset about is that [the student employment supervisors] communicated [to us] about this cut after 3 weeks into the semester” shares the anonymous student library worker, “which meant that even if we wanted to find another job on campus, we wouldn’t be able to because all the positions were already filled out.”
Other students stated that they rely on the income that comes from their on-campus employment and have no other avenue of consistent income. Pa Her, a fourth year student who works with the LEAD Fellows, states, “A lot of students depend on that income not just for tuition, but food and bills. […] Students who have a car on campus have to worry about gas … with the amount of bi-weekly income you’re getting, you just gotta ask ‘is it just better to get a job off-campus?’” International students also rely on on-campus positions as they are not able to work elsewhere.
HR encourages students to seek out resources if they are experiencing financial need that is not being met by their work hours already. Auggie Basics can provide financial assistance for students in need on a semester basis. Students can also reach out to the Dean of Students or Student Financial Services for support and connections within and outside of campus.