Students face reduced on-campus employment opportunities and new job responsibilities

By Roya Touran

Student employees at Crossroads Café in McCullough Student Center. (Emmanuel Tamrat)

Middlebury enforced restrictions for student employment and on-campus jobs this semester, prioritizing students who are awarded Federal Work Study through their financial aid package for on campus work. 

David Provost, the executive vice president for finance and administration, and Karen Miller, vice president for human resources, announced that there would be fewer work opportunities for students this semester in an all-school email sent this past July. 

“Due to the drastic reduction in available positions for the coming Fall semester, student employee supervisors may hire only aid recipients for their open positions, this includes rehiring past student workers,” the email said.  

Students who apply to work in fall 2020 must be awarded Federal Work Study or College Job aid. Federal Work Study is awarded to students as part of their financial aid package and is determined by Student Financial Services. 

“The intent of the student employment criteria for fall 2020 was to ensure that Middlebury could meet the obligation of employment availability to Federal Work Study and College Job students, the populations with the greatest need,” Miller said.

Due to these restrictions, many departments have seen significant job cuts. Customer service positions located in offices have drastically been reduced due to office closures. Departments that typically host large events, such as athletics, have also been impacted because large gatherings are not permitted. Other areas like dining services, however, have increased their capacity for student positions in order to comply with new safety requirements.

Of the 737 students employed by the college this semester, 415 are Federal Work Study recipients. Despite the new hiring guidelines, the college still employs some students who do not receive aid. This was necessary for certain jobs that required past experience. Shawn O’Neil, the Circulation Specialist at Armstrong Library, said the library needed fully trained students to adjust to the new work demand this semester. 

“We got approval to hire a couple of experienced workers who were not on Work Study. This is due to the workload at the libraries exceeding what we could manage with only Work-Study students,” O’Neil said. 

Covid-19 restrictions have also changed the duties of many job positions. Julia McClain ’22 works at the Athletics Center this semester, where ensuring safety and health is her primary responsibility. 

“Due to Covid, we have to wipe down all equipment during a cleaning period after each hour-long session,” McClain said. “We also have to check everyone in, check their Policy app and monitor to make sure people are wearing masks and distancing.”

Crossroads Café opened for the first time this semester on Sept. 30 and has also seen changes to its operations. 

“This year we are not open as late and have fewer shifts, so we have fewer total employees,” Co-manager of the café Luisa Vosmik ’21 said. “However, we did have to hire quite a few new workers this fall to make up for baristas who are not on campus this semester or do not have Work Study.” 

The training process also looked different for Crossroads employees this semester.

“We’ve all had to go through training for Crossroads this fall, even if we’re a returning employee,” Zachary Varricchione ’21 said. “We’ve had a lot of online training with Covid Worker Safety and reading about new policies we’ll have to work under.”

Today there are currently 90 open positions posted online for student applicants. Out of these current postings, 63 are open to all students, though many of the remaining positions require applicants with specific skills. Students can apply to open positions at go/findajob.