By HOPE RACINE
Student employees received a surprise earlier this month when the University of Mary Washington informed them of a payroll glitch that would push back their pay period. The email, which was sent out on Sept. 10, informed student employees that their most recent pay period, originally set for Sept. 14, would be pushed back to Oct. 3.
The email, which was titled “Payroll Paperwork Glitch,” attributed the change to the university’s efforts to comply with regulations of the Affordable Care Act.
Students reacted to this news with disappointment and confusion.
“I am enraged by this,” senior English major Katie Redmiles, a former resident assistant and summer conference assistant worker, said. “In any other system, going unpaid would not have been a reasonable option, in fact it would make them liable for a lawsuit.”
This is not the first time that there have been mistakes with student paychecks. This summer, student employees faced multiple problems with collecting their pay. Students were told they would be given a stipend and paid every two weeks.
“Over the summer we didn’t get out first paycheck until a month after we started working, and we found out that we had to provide our own meals for the first few weeks,” senior business administration major Lauren Armstrong said. “That was difficult for people who didn’t really have any money. And the next time we got paid, it was the wrong amount, so we had to wait another two weeks to get the rest of it with our other paycheck.”
According to Armstrong, who worked for Residence Life over the summer, many students had repeated interactions with payroll and financial aid in order to rectify the situation.
“Most of the time they acknowledged their mistake each time something messed up, but it seemed like they didn’t take the time to make sure it didn’t happen again,” Armstrong said. “The problems would continue into the next pay period.”
Additional problems arose for students who are on financial aid, as student workers receiving aid face limitations on how much they can work due to their agreements. Some students, such as Armstrong, who experienced difficulties with their paychecks over the summer are now ineligible to work during the school year because of those wages.
“It [the job] prevented me from working now because I supposedly reached the cap for the amount of money I can get from the school,” Armstrong said. “The only way I can work as a student here is if I lower my loans, which I can’t do or else I can’t afford school.”
Junior biology and chemistry double major Sam Clark is also limited in how much he can work due to his summer job with the university, where he faced paycheck problems as well.
“What’s even worse is that they get away with the whole thing. There is no sort of student representation on campus that allows us to make complaints and get things done,” Clark said.
Though the payroll problems should be resolved on Oct. 3, there is still the concern that it may happen again.
“Students have bills, students have expenses, we depend on the money we make just as much as any other worker,” Redmiles said. “Now that they have done it again, it is crucial for the administration to not allow this to keep happening or let it be because we are just students.”
The Blue & Gray Press reached out to Student Employment Manager Jennifer Moerman, who declined to comment.