by Kaizad Irani ’22
This week, 6.6 million Americans filed initial unemployment insurance claims amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, signifying an unprecedented rise in people without work. As the government continues to grapple with helping those Americans who have lost their job to the coronavirus, colleges around the country face a similar problem.
With Davidson operating the rest of the semester remotely, the College is looking to help those students who are out of work and need financial assistance. According to Liz Robinson, Assistant Director of Human Resources and Coordinator of Student Employment, students who are not on campus and cannot work remotely will be paid the total of what they would have earned through the end semester.
This lump-sum payment will be issued on April 10th.
The College will pay students based on the average number of weekly hours worked through March 6th, 2020. Robinson is currently working with supervisors to determine the percentage of the 866 students employed by the College that will be able to work remotely. Students allowed to continue their job remotely can work up to 20 hours per week.
“We adopted this policy out of a sense of fairness and community,” Robinson expressed in an email. “Implementing this policy was also helpful as we encouraged students to return home and begin remote instruction there.”
Robinson reported that the compensation will apply equally to students who receive Federal Work-Study (FWS) as part of their financial aid package. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) states that schools can continue to pay FWS students if a campus closes due to COVID-19 under a provision to help “disaster-affected students.” However, it is ultimately up to the schools to decide how they will compensate student-employees if they choose to do so. While some colleges are adopting a similar approach to Davidson’s, others are only approving limited jobs to continue remotely, such as at Mount Holyoke College. Some schools, like at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are even requiring student employees to request a grant if they are unable to work.
“I’m not working remotely and don’t really have the option to given the nature of my job,” shared Macy Lawton ‘22, a student employee at the Carnegie Guest House. “I think Davidson handled the situation really well, especially seeing how other schools haven’t been as responsible or [supportive of] their student employees.”
Jake Paz ‘21 is currently residing on campus and was working for the Union Information Desk. He was able to continue his on-campus job until March 25th. According to Paz, when Charlotte-Mecklenburg County issued a stay-at-home order beginning the following day, many on-campus jobs stopped in-person work because they were not deemed “essential services.”
International student-employees face a different situation. Robinson shared that international students who left Davidson are unable to continue their employment remotely due to “strict international employment and tax laws and, in some cases, visa restrictions.” They will still be paid, via direct-deposit, the equivalent of what they would have earned through the end of the semester and can continue to work if their job can be done remotely.
Although Robinson was unable to provide the exact number of students working from home, it appears that quite a few student-employment jobs, such as Lawton’s and Paz’s, will be unable to function remotely. In these cases, students will have to rely on their lump-sum payment to help them during these times.
“Since the closure of the school due to COVID-19, I have been struggling financially, as I rely on my multiple campus employment opportunities to fund most of my Davidson experience,” expressed Paz. “I am unable to work my job remotely, especially with the stay-at-home orders in North Carolina. I hope the school accurately honors my work study allotment. Most students who receive work study rely on this money to offset their payments to the College and I hope Human Resources realizes this.”