Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

COVID-19 budget cuts affect student jobs

3 min read

Due to budget constraints and a hiring freeze put in place during COVID-19, some student jobs have suffered, while others have not. | Pexels

MEGAN RILEY

Staff Writer

UMW’s budget, released by the Board of Visitors on June 10, accompanied by a hiring freeze placed on several departments in the University, has impacted student workers across departments.The department of Campus Recreation has seen the effects of the budget constraints and hiring freeze reflected in their graduate assistant program.

“When COVID started and there was a hiring freeze put in place, we had two graduate assistant positions that were unable to be filled,” said Kelly Shannon, director of Campus Recreation. “The GA benefits are typically that they will get their graduate tuition paid for, they receive housing, they’ll receive a small stipend, and a meal plan…and right now our two candidates from before the hiring freeze are not receiving any of these benefits.”

These students’ jobs have been slightly altered, as they have not been given as much administrative access and therefore are not able to perform the tasks normally required by their position. 

“We cut the student payroll budget for the fitness center because we proposed an alternative schedule. We are still staffing everything we can staff. We made a plan to spend less money because we were going to be operating in a virtual world,” said Shannon. 

Another department impacted by the budget reconstructions is the Office of Disability Resources (ODR). 

“ODR was affected by the new budget and hiring freeze this summer,” said senior geography major Madeline Young. 

This semester, there are half of the normal number of students working for ODR.

“Because of COVID, the budget restructuring and the hiring freeze, we don’t have two students working in the office, we only have one working remotely,” said Young, one of the two student managers of ODR. Due to students graduating last semester and the hiring freeze this year, the number of students on staff went from 12 to six.

Students workers at ODR have also seen a reduction in hours and a change in the duties they are normally assigned to do, such as answering phones and taking questions in person. They are instead working on small virtual projects.

Some departments on campus considered to be vital to students’ academic success have not been affected in such ways by the new budget constraints.

“The budgets for the consultants for the Writing Center and Speaking Center were not cut at all,” said Dr. Gwen Hale, director of the Writing and Speaking Centers.“Operational Budgets that support travel and conferences were trimmed, but with COVID, no one is traveling or going to conferences.” 

Those who work for these groups have seen some differences in how they are paid this semester. Tutors are only being paid when they have appointments or are working on projects for the writing and speaking centers, as opposed to being paid for regularly scheduled time.

Despite these changes, student tutors adapted to the situation.

“Appointments have picked up and consultants have been working on a lot of projects for the Writing Center,” said Hale.

The budget restructuring, regardless of the size of its current impact on certain departments and offices, is likely to be edited throughout the year. 

According to the budget plan released by the Board of Visitors, “It is almost certain that [UMW] will have to revise [their] 2020-21 budget plan in early fall with the potential for additional revisions in the spring.” 

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