For the sixth time in nine years, the issue of budget-funded student jobs was presented to administrators at Delegates’ Agenda, and at last week’s administrative response, Student Government Association (SGA) President Caroline Wiley said students wanted real answers to their questions.
“I think this is the most frustrating topic, especially for me and many other students. It has been on the Delegates’ Agenda since 2006. Even though there are budget jobs available, there are several students in this room who within this past semester have lost their jobs because budget jobs are less and less,” Wiley said.
The issue was one of several brought up at October’s Delegates’ Agenda. In a presentation by students Sophie Ozier and Nick Rau, they specifically asked for more student budget positions.
“I started out my presentation saying this issue has been talked about six times since 2006, and I think the main reason for that is because administration isn’t always understanding exactly what we’re talking about,” Ozier said.
Wiley said students hear the same thing from administration time and time again, but there is miscommunication. Student budget employment is the overall budget allocated for work study and budget positions. Budget student employment is the part of the overall budget specifically for budget positions.
Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Ted Hoef responded for the administration, and said Webster would possibly reallocate money for student budget positions.
“This coordinating committee for student employment has been working on a budgeting process that will provide a clear process for departments to request student employment budgets, to allocate funding to departments based on their justification, prioritization, data they provide and also prior year actuals,” Hoef said.
With that, the response ended. Then after a few seconds of silence, Wiley spoke up.
“We understand that the student employment budget has increased, but what students want to hear is that budget student employment is increasing,” she said.
Chief Financial Officer Greg Gunderson said that administrators want to help departments do what students are asking. The college has the data, Gunderson said. Now, supervisors need to use it to provide the best opportunities for students in terms of education and on-campus employment.
“Money has been moved around between units. You can’t move money around and not have somebody have less and somebody have more,” Gunderson said.
Ozier was underwhelmed with the issue’s response, which spanned a total of two minutes. Given the complexity of the issue and it’s repeated appearance at Delegates’ Agenda, Ozier felt it demanded more attention than just cookie-cutter non-answers.
“Their response to it [the presentation] was two minutes. It was a very, very short response for a very in-depth, big issue on campus,” Ozier said.
Wiley wanted administrators to know that despite past attempts, students still suffer from layoffs and threats of layoffs. Student and Gorlok Guide Abby Contreras is one such student.
At the beginning of the semester, Contreras was told her budget position would be cut because there was not enough money in the department’s budget. After her last day in December, Contreras will have to find another job.
Because Contreras studies under an international student visa, by law she cannot get an off-campus job. Likewise, international students do not qualify for work study; the only other option is a budget position.
“I just feel like there are certain jobs that really need a diverse group of students. I don’t really think it’s fair that international students cannot work on campus and that we don’t have that many choices,” she said.
Contreras said she wants to work on campus because she likes working with other students. However, she is not the only one with that mentality. Student and Emily Klein wants to do so enough that she volunteers in her position as Music Director at The Galaxy Radio, Webster’s student-run radio station.
She said she was hired knowing she probably would not get paid, but did not care at the time. At this point in the semester, she feels students should be paid for their work. While she loves what she does, she said she is expected to work nine hours a week but also comes in on weekends.** She does not understand how there is no money for budget positions when the Webster spends money elsewhere.
“It’s really frustrating because I feel like Webster spends a lot of money on stuff we don’t really need, like Public Safety getting new cars kind of makes me angry,” Klein said.
When it came to the administration’s response, Klein said she did not have high hopes for a definitive answer because when Webster asks students what they can fix, they do nothing with. She said she feels if a student does a job, they should be paid for it, even if they do not qualify for work study.
At the administration response, Wiley said even though budget jobs are available, there are simply not enough.
“Just because you don’t qualify for work study doesn’t mean your parents are going to be in a place to fully provide an education for you,” Wiley said. “So many students pay for their own education here and don’t qualify for work study, and this topic is a serious, serious problem we’ve brought up since 2006.”
**Correction: The Galaxy Radio does not expect students to work 9 hours a week, Emily Klein makes her own hours at the Galaxy Radio.