Student work hours on campus to be capped at 20 per week

The pilot program for limiting the number of hours students work on campus to 20 per week will start in Fall 2016, according to Assistant Dean for Campus Engagement Rachel Lucking.

Full implementation of this Student Employment Policy is anticipated for the fall of 2017, she added.

The jobs included in the pilot, according to interim Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Lorretta Holloway, are:

• Resident assistants

• Archives assistants, curriculum assistants, circulation assistants, periodicals assistants and reference assistants for the library

• Foundations peer mentors for First-Year Programs

• SEALS mentors for the Health and Wellness Center

• Work study/student interns from Career Services

•Supplemental instruction leaders, academic success peer tutors, peer subject tutors, work study/student interns, Diverse Scholars program, Musterfield/Generation One mentors from CASA

“We tried to get a cross-section of different types of employment opportunities on campus,” said Lucking, adding this includes positions that are student leadership paid jobs.

Holloway said, “The goal is not about enforcement of the policy, but rather a testing the best way to uphold the policy.”

According to Holloway’s presentation to SGA senators and eBoard members on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Lucking was appointed chair of the Student Enforcement Task Force.

The task force was created in Fall 2015 by the executive staff, who spoke about possibly limiting on-campus University work hours during the summer of 2015. Some of the responsibilities of the task force included looking up general employment regulations, IRS codes and labor laws, according to Holloway.

Lucking said, “We are taking feedback and figuring out the best way, and what works on this campus, and making sure that we’re following the codes but that we have the protocols in place to uphold it.”

The task force included one student and six staff members from different departments on campus, according to Lucking. She added there were originally two students, but one dropped the task force due to scheduling conflicts.

Lucking said, “One of the pieces we did was research what other universities had for policies and the 20 hours kept coming up as kind of a standard.”

The task force found research that said the IRS applied “the 12-20 rules,” which puts credit hours over work hours, according to Lucking.

Holloway said recently, other universities and colleges were coming under scrutiny for “abusing workers” by having students work jobs that could have been performed by full-time employees. She added, instead, they have been hiring student workers in an effort to “save money” as opposed to giving students the opportunity for professional development and experience.

She added, “There’s this idea that we have a lot of students who are basically slave labor and are working … a lot of hours. And also a big conern is, ‘You’re working a lot of hours – how is that going to affect not only your health but your school work?’”

Junior Colleen Jenkins finds the policy “very inconsiderate” to students who work full-time in order to support themselves.

She added, “Overall, it makes me feel like the school isn’t considering the needs of the students.”

The final report from the task force stated there are currently 668 students with on-campus university jobs, and of those, 106 had two jobs and 140 had more than two jobs, according to Holloway.

The report also stated 36 students work 25 to 29 hours per week, and 46 students work 30-plus hours per week.

Holloway said initially she and other hiring managers thought the number of students working more than 20 hours a week was much larger and the impact would be more serious

“Based on the way we do our crediting system, that kind of fell in line with the rest of our standards, so that’s where [20 work hours per week] came from,” she said.

Although the number of students negatively impacted is reportedly smaller, Holloway said she also had to work through school to support herself, so she understands how some students need to work more than 20 hours per week. The pilot phase can help administration “figure out ways to help these students.

“Is there something that we could be doing to help them? Do they need to work 30-plus hours a week? Are there ways for us to think about helping them organize their jobs better? … What kind of services could we provide?”

Sophomore Andrew Maldonado said, “I feel like most students don’t work more than 20 hours, anyways, but if their financial aid was approved then they should be able to work as much as they want.”

Holloway said, according to IRS codes and FICA regulations, some jobs may be exempt from the 20-hour rule.

According to Lucking, jobs which can be exempted will have to be vetted by the general counsel office.

She added, “One of the things we would be looking at are those positions that are tied to something that’s academic in nature. So something like internships, peer mentors … we really want it to be evident that students are here to pursue their degree.”

Exempt jobs would have to be related to academics, such as note-takers. According to Holloway, right now, the University does not know what jobs those would be specifically because there aren’t any records of job descriptions to have as evidence for exemption.

“So, if the IRS comes to do an audit for us, we really don’t have anything to say. We really need to be showing that we’re doing due diligence and that we’re keeping on track with these things,” Holloway added.

Residence Assistants (RAs) would be exempt from the 20-hour limit because the job description says they work 23 hours per week, according to Holloway.

She added they are looking at categorizing RAs differently to allow them to work more than one job. “One of the things that is a positive outcome of the pilot is we’re actually looking at how we’re classifying jobs in ways that we haven’t done before.”

Holloway said her department will create a database of all student employees in the pilot. If a student goes over the 20-hour limit the hiring manager and student will be contacted.

She added students will not be fired, and they are looking for “if there is a particular pattern,” such as certain offices or students consistently going over the limit.

“One of the things that I’ve said to staff is that our students are adults. They have to take ownership. And that’s one of the reasons why in the pilot and new policy, there is that online form that you fill out and you acknowledge that you know about the policy,” said Holloway, adding there could be serious reasons why students need to work extra hours and that is what the meetings would be for.

She added the policy is not only to keep track of student work hours, but to ensure students know their rights as workers.

Freshman Ashley Merola said she works a part-time job off-campus, and said the limit could be beneficial. “I think if hours are limited it will help students focus more on balancing school and personal life, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Holloway said, ideally, there would be someone in charge of student employment, but right now, it can’t be afforded.

Freshman Sydney Chase said, “I understand the priority of academics on campus. However, I think that more students would now look for work off-campus. It doesn’t personally affect me as much, but I know people who rely on 20-plus hours a week.”

Holloway said an obvious concern would be students who go off-campus for work. “We have no power or influence over what Chipotle is doing with their workers,” she added. “It would be figuring out what kinds of things we can do for these students.”

Senior Christo Wisdom said, “I get that they want students to focus more on school, but some students have bills to pay off on cars and credit cards. Those students will just look for work off-campus.”

Freshman Jillian Poland said, “I need to work more than 20 hours a week to afford payments for school. It would be hurting me much more than it would be helping me.”

Holloway said, “Part of my attitude about college is that it’s not just a place where you’re learning content information. It’s a place where you’re having four years of professional development, and I’m also thinking about ways to ensure that students understand their rights as workers.”

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