Complaints arise over work study

by Christie Reed
Editorial Director

Federal work study, a financial blessing for some, has been a burden for others. The program, which is intended to provide practical work experience, along with a paycheck for students, has been the brunt of complaints by various departments and students who are not satisfied with their experiences.

“My hours got cut in half this year, so I lost work time,” said Julie Eklund, a sophomore work study recipient who works at the Student Center desk.

Last year, Eklund also had problems with her work study hours.

“All of a sudden it was the end of the semester and my progress statement said I had tons of hours left to work in order to earn all of my money, and only a couple weeks left to earn it,” said Eklund.

She had to return after school was out, on the first day of summer, to finish her hours at the Student Center desk.

Other students who were given positions as tutors in the Learning Enhancement Center struggled to maintain the number of hours a week they were promised by that department, since requests for tutors were not regular.

Although consistent hours are sometimes a problem, according to Aaron Phanco, student employment specialist, the responsibility of providing the minimal hours contracted between the student and department lies with the supervisor that signed the written agreement.

“It is up to the supervisor of the department to make sure there is enough work available for the student,” said Phanco. “When they signed their name [on the work study agreement] they agreed to match the minimum amount.”

While some students complain about not receiving enough hours, some departments complain about not receiving enough students.

Although it is unfortunate, according to Phanco, the University of La Verne, just as all other campuses is given a certain budget to fairly allocate workers and divide hours.

“We allocate a certain number of students to each department,” said Phanco. “The federal government gives us money and based on the total amount, we determine how many students we can employ.”

This year, ULV received 13 extra allocations. These remaining dollar figures were sent to the senior management team consisting of the president, vice president and deans of ULV, where the slots were divided up.

Departments are also able to request the number of students they think they will need at the end of the year.

“At least one student will go to every department that has a need,” said Phanco.

The Financial Aid Office must also take into account the size of the department desiring workers.

“Larger departments, such as the child development center and athletics, serve larger populations so they receive more workers,” said Phanco.

It is required by the federal government that five percent of the total workers must be in a community service organization. This also affects allocation.

Another complaint on behalf of the students has been in regards to getting jobs in the departments where they wish to work.

“I think there is a problem with people not getting to work where they want to work,” said Eklund. “Certain positions fill up quick and you’re out of luck unless you’re on the re-hire list.”

In order to be on the re-hire list, students must have worked in that department the previous year, had an acceptable record of attendance, filled out a request form and received approval by the department supervisor.

“It is all on a first come, first served basis,” said Phanco. “Some students go from freshman to senior year working in the same department and others shift around.”

Work study is intended to provide on-the-job training to gain knowledge in the students’ area of interest.

“The goal of work study is to match skills, talents and abilities required by the job to those of the student, but of course that doesn’t always work out,” said Phanco.

Work study veterans know what is expected of them in their on-campus jobs, but some departments have been having problems with irresponsible and inexperienced workers.

This year, the library was given nearly double its normal work study slots, but Dr. Marlin Heckman, head librarian, has been dealing with a new problem.

“Students don’t look at work study as real work,” said Dr. Heckman.

He began with 42 students working in the fall, but is now left with 38.

“One terminated herself and the others I had to terminate,” said Dr. Heckman. “They did not show up for three weeks straight.”

According to Dr. Heckman, work study has been critical for the library staff, especially with the move into the new facility under way. Dr. Heckman uses the students to full capacity, which requires weekend work and good attendance.

“We try to work with the students, but it really throws you off when you expect to have a certain number of workers and some don’t show,” said Dr. Heckman.

One weekend, Dr. Heckman had scheduled 10 workers for Sunday, and ended up being short three workers.

He feels that what students need to realize is that work study is not just free money—it must be earned.

“What I want to tell them is, ‘I don’t owe it to you, but I’m willing to let you earn it,’”said Dr. Heckman. “This places the responsibility on students.”

According to the Financial Aid Office brochure on work study, the goals of work study are to “Establish good work habits,” “Improve your skills,” “Learn new skills,” “Develop goals,” “Increase personal satisfaction” and “Provide an sense of achievement.” To Dr. Heckman, the departments that participate in work study “have a responsibility to teach students how to work.”

Christie Reed, Editor in Chief
Christie Reed

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