The 2020 fall semester is uncharted territory for students and faculty alike at the University of Baltimore. While most students adapt to Zoom classes and remote learning, some are also adjusting to the lack of opportunities for on-campus employment.
In past years, Federal Work Study funds were allocated for a variety of positions including those at the media lab, library, and campus store. However, one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been decreased federal funding to the university and, consequently, fewer jobs. When students left campus for spring break, few thought it would be the last time they set foot on campus for class or work.
Abraham Rodriguez, a student staff manager at the Robert L. Bogomolny library, is one of many students affected by the campus closure. He already knew things would look different after the Spring 2020 semester when he saw numerous changes being made to work study—hours, financial award packages, and positions had been drastically reduced.
Through the confusion of the initial campus closure and its effects on employment, the phrase “hiring freeze” was floated through some department emails, including at the library and the writing center.
Barbara Aughenbaugh, Associate Vice President for Financial Planning and Operations at UB, explained that student hiring is not actually being frozen. Positions that can be worked remotely are still being filled, but the university will not be recruiting for on-campus positions at any point this fall.
The university hopes to revisit and re-evaluate this for the spring, depending on whether or not students will be able to return for in-person instruction.
Aughenbaugh also explained that typically about 25% of federal funding appropriated by the university is allocated to Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG). These grants are awarded to students with exceptional financial need who are working on their first bachelor’s degree. Funds that can’t be used for work-study positions this semester are now being diverted to provide more SEOGs. That decision was made by the university in an effort to help as many students as possible.
Although the diverted funds may help students who qualify for the SEOG, this doesn’t provide a solution or relief for students like Abraham. The library had been Abraham’s sole employment for which he even moved closer to campus in order to work earlier hours and more shifts. He’d worked at the library since 2018 and had grown through his roles there. “I really loved working at the library, everyone was so awesome and nice to work with,” he said. “This whole thing has really affected me.”
Tatiana Huang is a staff writer for The Sting.