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Events management restructuring reflects college-wide change

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On Oct. 30, President Valerie Smith sent out an email announcing that the special assistant to the President, Susan Eagar, will have a new role as director of events and programs, effective Nov. 20. This role will be to oversee event planning broadly, and it is part of structural changes to the department of events management.

President Smith’s email outlined the responsibilities of Eagar’s new position.

“In her new role, Susan will be responsible for all event operations and year-round logistical coordination of Swarthmore College events including major campus events, prominent speakers, and presidential events, as needed.”

In her current role as special assistant, Eagar provides high-level administrative support to the President and manages the daily operations of the President’s office. The email also outlined that Eagar would collaborate with external clients, oversee booking, and act as the main contact for all scheduling as well as the main point of contact between the event staff, host of the event, and support for events. She will also “implement, execute, and manage” the reservations systems and “provide ongoing training and resources for those scheduling events.” All of these tasks will be done through Swat Central, which is a “new, centralized” online event reservation system.

According to Eagar, Swat Central will replace the current online campus calendar and EMS, the current space reservations system. This new system will put space reservations, setup needs, and events publicity into one place; it will be implemented in spring 2018. Swat Central, like Eagar’s new role, indicates structural changes in the department of events management.

“It will serve as a one-stop hub for our campus community to learn about and reserve space for College events, classes, and meetings,” Eagar said via email.

The department of events management operates under the executive director of auxiliary services Anthony Coschignano. Coschignano mentioned via email that Swat Central will “provide more efficient and effective services.”

The Events Management Department was previously known as “Space and Summer Programs,” but since the department underwent restructuring, the name has been changed. The Events Management Department falls under the umbrella of Auxiliary Services. Other departments under Auxiliary Services include Dining and Catering Services, OneCard, The Swarthmore Campus and Community Store, Office Services, Post Office, and the Inn at Swarthmore.

Regarding the function of her department, Eagar said, “The Events Management Department is responsible for providing quality service to all our customers seeking the use of campus facilities.”

The structure of the Events Management Department includes an events coordinator and setup crew leader. The department plans to hire student workers as well to help with daily planning, particularly relating to summer programs. Coschignano said that this hiring process and structuring will occur over this academic year.

Coschignano noted that the department’s previous structure was similar, the changes are significant.

“The objective is to create an events office that will be best be able to support campus events in a more holistic, efficient, and creative way,” he said in an email.

This objective is reflected in President Smith’s college-wide email, which mentioned that this particular instance of restructuring relates to the 2016 visioning exercise.

On the Swarthmore College website, the 2016 visioning exercise is said to be “an effort … to help [the college] think more holistically about both the nature of students’ lives beyond the classroom and the types of spaces, services, technologies, activities, and campus culture that might support those experiences, both now and into the future.”

The 2016 visioning exercise is a complement to the Strategic Directions plan from December 2011, during the presidency of Rebecca Chop. Strategic Directions is a 40-page outline of a “strategic plan” to explain core values of the college, evaluate the current environment of the college, outline recommendations for change, lay out commitments to support the work, and provide implementations and future steps for the plan. Other elements of the plan included a campus facilities master plan as well as a diversity and inclusion plan.

A result of Strategic Directions was the development of a Master Plan for the college, which includes plans for the college’s growth, including the expansion of the number of buildings and students. The Master Plan can be found on the Swarthmore College website.

Eager’s new position as director of events and programs is indicative of the college’s efforts to grow and restructure which have been outlined in the 2016 visioning exercise and the Master Plan.

College develops new platform to facilitate student employment process

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The college administration has been developing a new platform to make student employment on campus more accessible, especially for first-year and work-study students. Called JobX, this new platform will be fully available in fall 2018. Once it is available, all student employees and job-seekers will be able to find and apply for jobs through this universal system.

The system will streamline your understanding of where to go to find a job, how to apply for a job, and where you stand in the process, which has been a huge question for students. Not getting a response from an employer when they’ve not been hired and waiting a week or two is a huge detriment,” said the director of services and the financial aid director, Kristin Moore.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Gregory Brown explained during the press conference last week that the driving forces behind this new initiative were to truly prioritize work-study students and to make the process of job application easier for incoming students and international students.

“The college has a commitment to giving priority to students who have work as part of their financial aid package, but we haven’t been consistent in making sure that that happens,” said Brown.

For work-study students especially, this priority is not carried out well in specific practices in the employment process.

Despite the fact that I am a work-study student, there was no information given to me about how to find jobs on campus. Additionally, during the application process last year, I was told to just add in my application that I am on work-study and that would give me preference for a limited period of time, but there did not appear to be any sort of system to regulate this process, ” said Hanna Gutow ’20, who has worked as a desk attendant in the Field House and Matchbox since her freshman fall.

Meanwhile, Charles Cole ’21, who has been working at Sharples Dining Hall since the second week of this semester, did not experience much difficulty in finding a job on campus.

“I knew I was going to get a job before I came to campus, so I knew to always be aware of where I needed to go to get that job. When the job fair I signed up for a few things, and dining was the first to respond so I just said yes,” said Cole.

The job-seeking process itself also seems disorganized to many students. Right now, students learn about general information of job positions either through the job fair at the beginning of the semester or simply through word of mouth.

I went to the job fair last year during orientation to look for some jobs, but I actually heard about this job during the meeting all athletes do at the beginning of the year to sign our paperwork for eligibility,” said Gutow.

Sophie Song ’20, an international student, is currently working at McCabe Library. She also heard about this job by word of mouth. She recognized the difficulty of getting general information, but overall the current system is working well enough for her.

I think it’s convenient. But I only work at McCabe, so I can only speak on behalf of one institution,” said Song.

The current system is working well for some, but it is not well-organized for others.

“I was a little disappointed by the job fair last year. I didn’t think it was organized very well, and I found it a bit overwhelming to keep track of the different jobs, hours, requirements, and application processes,” said Gutow.

Cole, however, has a different perspective on this issue. For him, the job fair was accessible and organized enough for him to get the information he needed.

With JobX, job fairs will become a place where students can actually meet the employer, instead of getting general information.

“This is really an important priority for us, because students are expected to work [and] we want to make sure we’re facilitating that,” said Brown.

For some students, the administration is already providing enough resources to help first year students get employed.

All of the people I work with are super nice and helpful. I haven’t had to miss a shift yet or anything, but they seem very flexible and understanding too. Not too complicated at all,” said Cole.

The college is working to make the job-seeking process easier for freshmen by posting jobs on JobX before their arrival on campus. However, it seems that returning students are also having problems getting employed.

Both Gutow and Song got rehired easily, but they admitted that things could have been difficult if they were looking for new positions.

“Employment this year was actually easier than last year because the Athletic Department rehired everyone who was still interested in the position … However, I think if this rehiring process had not taken place, finding a different job could have been challenging because many positions are already occupied, and the job fair seemed to be aimed more toward freshmen,” said Gutow.

I know of friends who are sophomores looking for jobs … It is not as easy to be newly-employed as a returning student because a lot of the opportunities are offered to freshmen,” said Song.

JobX will simplify the process of finding a new job because the application process will be made universal.

“Every time you apply for a new job, you’re not starting all over again, and I think that will be a huge change,” said Brown.

The new system will not only make the rehiring process easier, but it can potentially connect students better to their future jobs after graduation.

“The universal job description will force supervisors to choose things about their job that will be applicable to terminology and career development terms that you will be able to then to apply to a resume. You will be able to connect your student work job to future jobs,” said Moore.

Students responded hopefully to this new platform.

Currently, I think most work-study students end up finding a job, but the process is more complicated than it needs to be, and I think the new streamlined process will be a huge help, ” said Gutow.

Other than simplification, organization is another appealing advantage for students.

I think it will make it more convenient and centralized. Instead of having students find individual institutions, everything will be more organized,” said Song.

The college plans to test JobX for the first time in spring 2018 for hiring Residential Assistants, Green Advisors, Diversity Peer Advisors.

“The big test once we go live this spring is going to be is it as easy as we thought it was, and what changes might we have to make it better?” said Brown.

If JobX works out well for the RAs, GAs, and DPAs in the spring, it will be fully enacted next fall.

College approaches student employment problematically

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

In a September 29 article in the Phoenix titled “Students Struggle to Secure On-Campus Employment,” Isabel Cristo discussed how two positions in the college post office received over 50 responses for the positions in under an hour. Even without access to a college-wide data set about the statistics of student employment on campus, this incident indicates that the level of demand for an on-campus job is high to the point of being unacceptable. The structural failures in the process of finding student employment on campus may be partly to blame for this job shortage, and the Phoenix believes that college staff, in partnership with the Student Employment Office, are obligated to act to change the student employment environment as soon as possible. Until the college acts to change these practices, it is failing to adequately serve the needs of the entire student body, and particularly failing the needs of low-income students.

The Phoenix has identified several key areas where student employment policies are particularly inadequate and deserve urgent attention. One of these is the simple fact that learning about student employment opportunities is both decentralized and incomplete. If a student did not check their email within the hour that the offer for a job in the college post office was sent out, they missed the opportunity to apply. There was no formalized application process and no application deadline. Similarly, there are many other jobs on campus that seem to become available only through “word-of-mouth” interactions, such as becoming a Science Associate in the Department of Biology, or managing and scorekeeping in the Department of Athletics. While there is a job fair for first-year students during orientation week, there is no equivalent once the academic year begins for non-first-years or alternative if first-year students miss the first job fair. Students’ financial situations might change over the course of their time at Swarthmore, and not providing the entire student body with sufficient knowledge of opportunities to pursue on-campus employment is unacceptable. Furthermore, the number of student employment opportunities that are represented at the job fair is far less than the actual number of opportunities available to first-year students. College staff should increase the number of student employment opportunities represented at the first-year job fair, and additionally provide a similar job fair for non-first-years.

Even at the first-year job fair, students must apply to each on-campus job individually, placing an additional burden on students seeking employment. Especially considering that the demand for each job is so high and a student may then have to apply to several to secure employment, it is ridiculous that the college has not introduced a centralized application system for student employment. While the Reserved Students Digest offers a place for new job offers for the entire student body, attempting to justify a daily email to the student body as the only place for employment opportunities is irresponsible. We as a student body need and deserve a centralized portal for job postings and a streamlined, standardized application to submit.

Implementing a system like this would not necessarily be difficult; other colleges and universities had these systems in place. Yale University’s student employment has a live job search portal that details the exact number of open jobs and open positions. Bowdoin College has a similar search portal. With such models among our peer institutions, why is the most comprehensive listing of student employment at Swarthmore an outdated and un-editable PDF on the Student Employment Office’s website? As Swarthmore students, we deserve better access to employment opportunities.

Another major problem with student employment is the nature of the work often offered to students. In many cases, the jobs are clearly marketed as “Student jobs,” implying that they are somehow different from the jobs offered to other college staff members, and in some cases do not offer students the opportunity to gain real-world job experience. In the Student Development Office, student callers learn about non-profit development work. But why are no students able to apprentice under the bartender at the Broad Table Tavern, or shadow the hospitality staff at the Inn at Swarthmore? And why doesn’t the college have conversations with business in the village of Swarthmore to increase the number of student employees there? The Phoenix understands that different jobs on campus are funded by different sources of income or different types of grants, but the source of a college employee’s paycheck should not dictate the nature of the work students can do. Furthermore, the Phoenix recognizes that college employees are bound by required reporter and Clery Act guidelines, and it may be difficult to train more student employees in this capacity. However, this administrative hurdle would increase the number of reporters on campus and ideally make the college a safer place. Therefore, it is unreasonable for college staff to shy away from offering students different types of employment due to the fact that training them in the same way that a full-time staff member would take too much time or paperwork. This is particularly salient when considering the fact that many of the students at the college volunteer their time in extracurriculars or unpaid job opportunities that cumulatively would equal or exceed a forty hour work week.

The Phoenix recognizes that the college and student groups on campus are engaging in valuable conversations about the needs of low income students. We commend the Dean’s Office, the Swarthmore Organization for Low Income Students, and the Questbridge Scholars group for spearheading many of those conversations. But in addition to engaging in those conversations, the college should be paying attention to the serious need for increased and more efficiently listed on-campus employment opportunities. The Phoenix hopes the college creates a centralized job listing and application center and encourages various employers to engage more actively with potential student employees.

Swarthmore students were admitted because of their exceptional ability as students. Many go on to successful and lucrative careers in a number of sectors. Admissions staff discuss these promising job prospects in information sessions on a daily basis. Why is it, then, that the college approaches student employment during their four years at the college in such a drastically different and problematic way? We at the Phoenix await to hear the answer.

Not enough professors to go around

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

Over the past week, I have attended several department information sessions in preparation for the sophomore plan. More than any of the requirements, recommendations and advice on the proper way to explain a major choice to disapproving family members, what has stuck with me is the feeling that there are not enough professors to go around. Many departments seem to be shrinking uncontrollably, or are at least unable to keep up with growing interest.

The political science department, with one of the largest majors in the school, has recently been denied an application for a tenure-track position, and is not optimistic about its chances for this application cycle. At the information session, we were assured that the department would do its best to fit us into the classes we wanted, but given the current size of the faculty, this would not always be possible. The problem will only be exacerbated as the school shifts down to a four-course load for professors, while simultaneously expanding its student body.

The most disturbing case I have encountered is in the history department. The underlying theme of the information session seemed to be a constant need to apologize for the lack of professors available to teach classes. With the departure of Professor Pieter Judson at the end of last semester, the department was already dealing with finding qualified instructors to teach courses, and facing the elimination of a popular honors seminar. But with the unexpected departure of professor Rosie Bsheer this semester, it seems as though the department is shrinking before our very eyes. When this is combined with the necessary process of periodically removing courses and seminars from the rotation, it becomes a bit of a challenge to both fill requirements and find classes in the specialties one wishes to pursue.

When a student asked if these missing professors would be replaced, the answer only confirmed our worst fears — the department would likely not be able to fill the slots within the next couple of years, and would not be searching for a new Middle East specialist. The department has decided that it is futile to continue to chase after temporary appointments and has instead opted to pursue an added tenure track position in the future.

Given the current status of tenure-track applications, this future seems be very distant. As important as it is to ensure the hiring of a permanent professor, this does little to alleviate the concerns of current students left unable to pursue the areas of study they believed they would have access to when they decided to come to Swarthmore.

The history department is by no means ignorant of this problem. It is reasonable to insist on waiting for a tenure track position. The department is demonstrating to the administration that the constant cycle of instructors, lecturers and visiting assistant professors does not meet the needs of the student body.

But while this is pursued, those of us in the department are left with an incomplete program. There is no better evidence of the failure of this system than the departure of Bsheer. Just as members of the department had worried, she left a temporary position at Swarthmore to accept a tenure track position at Yale. How many professors need to be enticed away before the college will grant the department the ability to offer its hires the promise of job security?

Expanding the number of tenure track positions is particularly important in a subject like history, where fields of study are so sharply delineated. It is simply unrealistic to ask an expert in modern Latin American history to also head up the study of ancient Chinese civilization. While the skills are transferable, the various specialties in history require entirely different bodies of knowledge. It is unfair to expect a college the size of Swarthmore to have every region covered, but the current gaps are uncomfortably wide.

An institution so committed to providing a wellrounded and socially relevant education should not prevent its students from engaging meaningfully in the study of regions that will influence the shape of the global community for decades to come. The department has done all it can to provide this opportunity. Without additional tenure-track positions, we must resign ourselves to the fact that we will never see classes on modern Middle Eastern history in our time at Swarthmore.

Visiting professors are of course important to the functioning of a college, but a department cannot exist without the consistency of tenured faculty. This problem can be seen across many departments and across all three divisions of the college. One of the major appeals of any small college is the ability to build lasting relationships with faculty members over the course of one’s studies. It is to the detriment of the community when this opportunity is unavailable. Of course, the college has many factors it must take into account when making budget decisions, most of which I cannot pretend to understand. Still, Swarthmore is, at its core, an academic institution. Thus, one of its chief concerns should be ensuring that students get the academic experience we are led to believe we will when we decide to come to Swarthmore. This cannot happen without a sufficient number of professors who will be around long enough for us to get to know with some consistency.

As recent events have shown, the college cannot hope to attract qualified academics without giving them the proper incentives. Tenured faculty form the foundation of any department, and these positions must be increased to keep up with the legitimate interests of departments and students alike. From my own experience, this means granting the history department the tenure-track position it needs to make up for just one of the recent losses, but I am sure that this sentiment could be echoed across many departments.

In order to meet its obligations as an educational institution, Swarthmore must find a way to expand the availability of its most basic resource — its professors.

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