As universities and students worldwide adjust to the many changes made this semester due to fluctuating state mandates and conscientious health precautions, one conversation seemingly got lost in the midst of the COVID-19 reign: what happens to students relying on on-campus jobs?
Many LMU students returned home last spring not only having to adjust to a remote learning experience, but also having to adjust to remote work spaces or, in many cases, having no way of fulfilling their former work responsibilities.
Over the summer, Student Employment Services updated student work policies to reflect COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines. Such policies state that the majority of student work options will be remote for the semester, and students whose work study jobs fail to be performed remotely will not be paid their award amount.
For some offices on campus, adjusting to an online operation was a swift task. According to Dr. Morgan Gross, associate director of the Academic Resource Center (ARC), the Writing Center offered online writing sessions prior to the pandemic in an effort to make tutoring services as accessible to students as possible.
“Since LMU transitioned to remote learning, we simply removed the face-to-face option for writing tutoring, and tutors are now meeting students exclusively online and from their own homes,” said Gross.
Similarly, other offices on campus found ways to quickly accommodate student workers and maintain their usual work demand. Oluchi Ibe, a sophomore biology major, said that prior to the pandemic, she worked in the admissions department speaking to high school students who were interested in attending LMU.
According to Ibe, very little changed with her job as communicating with high school students simply switched over to occasional Zoom meetings.
However, Ibe said she prefers working in person. “With the type of job I have, you’re talking about the school, you're talking about your experiences, so you want to be able connect with the students in person… But I do think it's nice that we have the ability to use Zoom to still talk with students.”
On the other hand, certain jobs that also deal with relaying information to students are having more of a challenging time. Azalea Banegas, a senior political science major and student co-manager in the Office of Senior Vice President of Student Affairs (SVPSA), said, “The pandemic completely changed our work… We used to be able to be in the office, greeting and interacting with students and faculty.”
According to Banegas, SVPSA is putting together a “virtual question forum” so freshmen and transfer students will have a medium to ask other LMU students questions about student life. “The process of making these changes has been difficult but interesting,” said Banegas. “We hope there are enough questions that allow our students to… continue to work throughout the semester.”
While some jobs are able to continue working in a remote fashion, certain jobs have no way of operating this semester. Chanya Jeffries, a sophomore communications major who worked in the athletics department with broadcast and media, said, “I realized when we didn’t have sports that I probably wouldn’t have a job. So I texted my boss and he was like, ‘yeah you don't have a job.’”
In a statement released by the West Coast Conference (WCC), the WCC is delaying all fall sports ––such as basketball, volleyball and soccer–– due to the pandemic. Schools affected by this include LMU, Pepperdine and USC.
Hank Przelenski, a sophomore business and management major who worked alongside Jeffries in athletics, said, “I saw the WCC cancelled all of these sports, so I assumed my job wasn’t there anymore.”
“I would go in when we had games and I would set up the camera, I would help film for B-roll which is the players warming up, and then I would broadcast the game –– I would film the whole game,” Jeffries said. “For all of my jobs I’ve needed to be there in person…. I don’t know how I could broadcast the games remotely. The jobs can’t be done remotely."
“Over the summer I reached out to Student Employment Services (SES) just asking what was going to happen with jobs and whether or not they'll still be open,” said Przelenski. “I would check once or twice a day to see what jobs were posted.”
Gross said she was surprised at the amount of applications the Writing Center received so soon after she posted the job listing.
Gross said, “Because of the quantity and quality of applications we received, I was able to finish hiring for the Writing Center earlier than anticipated, by ~2 weeks, and focus my attention on completing hiring for Course Tutoring.”
According to Gross, there were 20 course tutors in the ARC for fall 2019; this fall there are currently 38 course tutors.
While the fate of on-campus student life and, consequently, student employment remains uncertain, students can still use their LMU log-in credentials to access LionJobs for work-study and T-work employment options and Handshake for off-campus jobs and internships.