Budget cuts may endanger student jobs

Davenport College senior Rhys Bufford works at the Sterling Memorial Library, where demand for student workers has fallen in the last year.
Davenport College senior Rhys Bufford works at the Sterling Memorial Library, where demand for student workers has fallen in the last year. Photo by Carmen Lu.

Yale’s financial aid office may reinstate a preferential hiring policy for students on financial aid, amid concern that departmental budget cuts will hurt the availability of on-campus jobs.

Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said that if the number of financial-aid students unable to find jobs reaches 30 or more, his office will recommend reinstatement of a two-week preferential hiring policy. Storlazzi said he currently knows of 10 students struggling to find jobs.

“One of the consequences of the budget crisis has been that departments have been reducing the amount allotted to student workers in their budgets,” Storlazzi said.

Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle wrote in an e-mail Wednesday that he did not know the amount by which specific departments had already cut student job spending. But he confirmed that student wages were one area that departments can cut back to achieve the budget reductions required of all University departments for the 2009-2010 academic year. Of 12 department heads and administrators interviewed, two confirmed their departments had already made cuts to student job offerings.

Before it was abolished almost 10 years ago, the preferential hiring policy excluded non-aid students from applying to on-campus jobs during the first two weeks of each semester. The policy fell into disuse over recent years as job supply consistently exceeded demand, Suttle said. But Storlazzi said he now believes that departmental budget cuts may bring an end to this trend. If reinstated, the preferential hiring policy could be effective beginning next academic year at the earliest, Storlazzi said.

Suttle said it is still too early to know whether the two-week policy would be a necessary measure.

Since 2004, the number of undergraduate students at work on campus has risen from 1,549 to 1,902, according to Matthew Long, assistant director of student financial services and student employment manager. (Those figures are based on the numbers of students paid within the first six weeks of the academic year.) Currently, around 2,158 students have federal work-study, a government fund that subsidizes on-campus employment, or Yale term-time job awards, a component of Yale’s financial-aid package that requires students to work for their living expenses if they wish to avoid loans.

Long said there has been a “significant” increase in student employment over the past two years. In the first six weeks of this academic year, however, 52 fewer students held on-campus jobs, as compared to the same time last year. Stacey Gemmill, director of financial affairs and administration at the Yale School of Art, said that since July the department has made cuts to the size of summer cleaning crews, which are staffed by students, and the number of student designers hired to lay out promotional material for various lectures and events.

Gemmill added that in order to become more cost-efficient, the Art School has also begun implementing a single-employee sign-out system so that the school no longer needs to hire multiple students to operate its various sign-out desks.

But Diane Turner, associate University librarian for human resources, said that while the University library’s student employment budget has not been cut, Yale’s libraries — collectively, one of the largest student employers on campus — have advertised fewer positions this year.

“We have 310 students working this year, compared to 356 last year,” Turner said, noting that demand for student workers among the various library departments have fallen.

When asked if this drop-off is related to budget constraints, she said she did not know because each department within the library system submit individual requests for student help.

While the history department has not cut its student employment budget, senior administrative assistant Dana Lee said there has been a “drop off” in the type of work the department reserves for its students.

“Most of the department’s everyday processes are now electronic, and we don’t need as many students for deliveries or copying,” she explained.

In the past year, the history department has laid off one student worker, whose job was made irrelevant by this streamlining, Lee said.

Of the half a dozen students on financial aid interviewed who either are currently working or have sought employment this semester, all agreed the on-campus job market is tougher this year compared to last year.

Katelyn Martin ’12 said she found a job before arriving on campus last year. This year, it has taken her 10 applications and more than a month to find employment, she said.

“It’s so much tougher this year,” Charlotte Wang ’12, who is currently looking for a second job in addition to her role as a night monitor at the Office of International Students and Scholars, added. “You have to get started early or you’ll miss out.”

Vivian Yee contributed reporting.

Comments

  • recent grad

    A decrease in student jobs is lamentable, but Yale should definitely NOT reinstate preferential hiring for students on financial aid. I consider myself very lucky to have come from a background that Yale determined did not merit financial aid, but I needed my various on-campus jobs to get by! Those of us on the cusp of financial aid eligibility arguably need the jobs more, since we receive no help at all.