EWU forced to cut most student-employment positions

Students+crowded+in+line+for+the+grand+opening+of+Einstein+Bros+Bagels+in+2017.

Ivone Garza

Students crowded in line for the grand opening of Einstein Bros Bagels in 2017.

By Aaron Hutchinson, Reporter

EWU has had to make drastic reductions to student employment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approximately 760 positions have been laid-off, according to Deborah Danner, associate vice president of Human Resources at EWU.

“Many of our students have not returned to campus due to online classes,” said Danner, “and there are no telework options available for these individuals.”

Dining Services and Housing are self-funded and were among the hardest hit. Many students have chosen not to return to campus, which has caused those departments to eliminate most student positions.

Associate vice president of Campus Life Josh Ashcroft said that all community advisors have been laid-off for the spring quarter; a decision Ashcroft called one of the most difficult of his career. 

“CAs are critical to the student experience,” -Josh Ashcroft, Associate Vice President of Campus Life

Dave McKay, director of Dining Services, said he typically employs between 250 and 275 students during the spring term.

“[D]ue to the current situation,” said McKay, “we have zero student positions.”

“With classes moving on-line, many students moved out of the dorms,” said Danner. “That means the University is receiving less income to support its Housing and Dining Services.”

According to Ashcroft, only 200 students remain living on campus. The students have been consolidated into Pearce and snyamncut. Residential life coordinators, which are professional staff, remain on-campus to assist students still living in the resident halls.

  Recreation-based employment has also been affected. On March 23, Washington governor Jay Inslee issued a “Stay home, Stay healthy” order closing all non-essential businesses and banning mass recreational activities. In response, the University Recreation Center, Aquatics Center and Sports and Recreation Center have all been shuttered until June 18. Programs like EPIC Adventures have also canceled all upcoming events. These closures have necessitated the temporary elimination of student jobs.

“None of us have experienced this before.” – -Josh Ashcroft, Associate Vice President of Campus Life

Services have been set up to help affected students, including a student emergency fund. Food pantries will also remain open, according to Danner, who said students should contact the Student Care Team for more information. 

Student-employees will need to contact the Washington State Employment Security Department to see if they qualify for unemployment, said Danner. 

Expanded eligibility under the Federal CARES act may help student-employees qualify even if they don’t meet certain criteria, like having worked 680 hours in the past year, according to the WSESD website.

Supervisors like Ashcroft are working hard to help student-employees but urge patience during the crisis.

“We are having to be creative and problem-solve a pandemic crisis,” said Ashcroft. “None of us have experienced this before.”

Danner also said student-employees should be patient and know that there will be positions available once campus re-opens for full operations.