April 30, 2009

Despite Staff Layoffs, Univ. Continues to Hire Student Workers

Print More

Amid recent layoffs and a reduction in the size of its workforce through incentivized retirement and attrition, the University doesn’t have plans to make any major changes to student employment, although the administration conceded that it is still unclear how budget cuts will impact specific student positions.
According to the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment, 6,976 students worked 11,433 hourly jobs for on-campus employers and local community service agencies during the 2008-2009 academic year, although the number of hourly student employees has decreased slightly over the past three years.
At this time, however, the administration is not concerned about a significant decrease in jobs as a result of the University’s perilous financial situation.
Bridget Foster, director of the student employment program in the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment, said that the number of student jobs has remained the same or decreased slightly during economic downturns, while the demand for student positions increased. However, she said the effects were not significant enough to predict a decrease in student employment over the next year. [img_assist|nid=37375|title=Student at work|desc=Jane Kim ’10 works at the door of Uris Library yesterday afternoon. The University says it has no plans to make changes to student employment.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Along with libraries, the athletic deparment, Hotel School, Public Service Center, CIT and the C.U. Fund, Campus Life is a large employer of students on campus, with more than 1,000 students and part-time staff members each academic year.
Karen Brown, director of campus life marketing and communications, said that Cornell Dining, Cornell Catering and Campus Life, in general, do not expect any changes in student staff hiring during the coming academic year.
“We still have a massive need for students to help us, and would love to have more students,” Brown said. “We are not decreasing the work opportunities, because we have always relied heavily on Cornell student staff to maintain successful operations.”
Cornell Dining and Catering are still currently hiring, and still have positions available for the summer and for the 2009-2010 academic year. In fact, earlier this year Cornell Dining raised the starting wage for its student employees to $8 per hour.
Yet, Foster said it is difficult to predict how University-wide budget cuts will affect student employment.
Since some individual academic departments have been hit hard by the budget cuts, departments may decide to re-evaluate how their budgets can support student jobs, pay wage, and raises, she said.
Although over the past 10 years about 75 percent of student jobs at Cornell have been paid without Federal Work Study funding, budget cuts may increase the number of work-study hires and decrease the number of non-work-study hires, according to Foster.
However, she added that there have been no changes to the Federal Work Study allotment thus far, and all of the money for the program is used up every year.
It is also possible that departments may reduce the total number of hours students are employed to work. However, Brown said that there is currently no data to support any such change.
Jim Blankenship of the Molecular Biology and Genetics Department said that he does not anticipate a decrease in the number of Teaching Assistants employed to teach BIOBM3300: Introductory Biochemistry, Individualized Instruction. Currently, 10 TAs work six hours per week in the auto-tutorial course, each earning $750 per semester.
“The student employees are an essential part of the course,” Blankenship said. “It’s one of the few expenses for the course, and it’s not been an issue for us so far.”
Foster said that student employment is primarily a resource to allow students to earn income to help meet Cornell costs, either for miscellaneous expenses or applied directly to the bursar bill as in the case of Federal Work-Study eligible students.