The college is moving to make efforts to improve the student employment before the next academic year. Many students have voiced complaints that the system is fragmented and that many students who need a job as part of their financial aid are not able to find them.
According to the campus climate study, 30 percent of students rely on jobs to help pay for their education. Many students have federal work study as part of their financial aid package. The work study program allows students to work on campus in federally subsidized jobs. Many students who do not qualify for federal work study qualify for a campus job as part of their Swarthmore financial aid package. Despite jobs being a necessity for many students on campus, they can be hard to come by.
In a previous Phoenix article, “Student struggle to secure on campus employment” by Isabel Cristo, it was reported that many students will apply for multiple jobs on campus and not hear back or not get a job despite work study being part of their financial aid package.
The college has proposed a centralized database as a possible solution for the problem.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Gregory Brown says there are three main components to the improvement goals: making sure financial aid students receive priority, creating a central system, and updating and clarifying policies and procedures. Brown hopes to have the new system up and running by next academic year.
“But my main point here, speaking less as the CFO and more as the person who receives financial aid, is that I really want to make sure that students have an easier time of finding jobs when they need to find jobs. We’ve made it too difficult,” said Brown.
The centralized system that is being proposed is similar to programs that have been implemented at many other institutions across the country, such as Dartmouth College. It would allow for students to search for campus jobs and apply for multiple jobs at once.
The process of updating the student employment process is being guided by the Student Employment Committee.
“We have a fairly large committee that Greg [Brown] is chairing, but that also includes several representatives from the Dean’s office: Karen Henry, Liz Dirksen, Rachel Head, obviously our financial aid colleagues … We also included … representatives from some of the biggest student employers on campus. OSE being one, ITS, and the library, and athletics [all have representatives on the committee],” said Dean of Students Liz Braun.
One goal of the committee is to collect more comprehensive employment data. The fragmented employment system creates difficulties, among them identifying the number and distribution of student jobs.
“I think one of the other things that’s really exciting about this committee is building … [an] inventory [of data on student employment], because I think we have some sense of where [students work], but some departments have hired in a more adhoc kind of way, so really centralizing that so that we can have a clear sense of how many jobs are available on campus,” said Braun.
According to data provided by Director of Services in the Financial Aid Office Kristin Moore, an average of 925 students were employed by about 71 departments at any time during the 2015-2016 academic year. They also found that individual students hold an average of two jobs.
The first forum aimed at collecting student input in the process was hosted last Friday with Swarthmore Organization for Low Income Students. The Student Employment Committee will host a public forum on Friday from 5:00-6:30 in Sci 199. The forum will offer an opportunity for students to share their experiences with work on campus and how the process can be improved.