Posted on: September 29, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Aidan McGuire, Multimedia Editor, and Nick Stulga, Editor-in-Chief

As student life is returning to the way things used to be before COVID, one thing definitely has not returned: student jobs.

The number of student employees at Moraine Valley is only a quarter of what it was before the pandemic. In 2018-19, there were 337 students working for the college; now, that number is only 83.

Schools nationwide were hurt financially by the pandemic and declining enrollment, and have had to make cuts. Moraine Valley slashed its budget for student jobs in favor of a federal government-supported work study program. However, many students don’t qualify for the work-study program. As a result, there are fewer jobs available for Moraine Valley students.

Photo by Speaking & Writing Center
Student employees help students and community members with their writing in the Speaking & Writing Center.

This is a painful cut for students.

“Student jobs are important to me because it helps give us opportunities to pay off our tuition or other fees with flexible schedules so we can still get the best education we can,” said Moraine student employee Lena Zidan.

In addition, without workers to fill some of the services on campus, the services themselves are hurting. With a lack of room in hard budgets, some departments have been left understaffed and unable to operate fully. 

“We are not currently meeting staffing needs,” said Speaking & Writing Center co-director Michael McGuire. “COVID-related budget cuts have impacted our services. Prior to the pandemic, the Speaking & Writing Center held on average 3,000 student consultations per academic year. This number had been growing steadily.

“We had a typical staff of maybe 15 students plus a handful of faculty. We are currently in a rebuilding phase, post pandemic, but with our limited staff, we have been forced to pivot our services to appointment only.”

The Speaking & Writing Center used to pay students with a hard dollar budget, according to McGuire. However, when Fall 2020 came around, that money was nowhere to be found.

“We were, however, able to hire four work study students this semester. We are currently operating with no hard budget dollars, with four students and faculty volunteers,” McGuire said.

2018-192019-202020-212021-222022-23 (updated 9/29/22)
# of Moraine student employees3372918314083
Source: Pamela Payne, Job Resource Center

Pamela Payne, director of Moraine’s Job Resource Center, explained in an email interview the many benefits of hiring students: “The data collected over the past 12 years reveal that students who participated in the student employment program on the average have a significantly higher retention rate (90 percent or higher from fall to spring semester) and have an average cumulative GPA (3.1 or higher) than the college’s overall student body.”

But right now, these benefits only apply to a certain subset of MV students.

“I feel very strongly [that] students who have the highest needs for financial support need to be easily employed on campus,” explains Vice President of Student Development Normah Salleh-Barone.

This fall, the college has received $192,042 in work-study funds and is putting these funds to use.

“As of this fall we have hired about 81 student employees; 57 of those students are federal work-study and then 24 are hard budget,” Salleh-Barone said.

Zidan works for Student Life, along with six other students. However, she is the only one hired as a Moraine-budget employee in this department. Her co-workers are all employed through the work-study program. Zidan explained that Student Life has had to turn people away who do not qualify for work-study.

With student jobs hurting and departments facing the side effects, things may seem bleak. But some still remain hopeful.

“You can be assured that the Job Resource Center is dedicated to growing the number of student participants,” Payne said, “by eliminating barriers to access and working to enhance opportunities so that our students will see the program as a viable option toward their success.”