Communications gap evident among college administrators

By Editor-in-Chief

At the start of the academic year, many students are strapped for cash and in need of a campus job that can work around their class schedules. Campus jobs are a staple at every academic institution and provide not only a source of income but are often also educational opportunities housed within the students’ home department.

The money from these campus jobs is often used to pay for books, tuition, fees and other expenses that go back to the college at some point in time.

As reported in the Front Page story, some Columbia students had been relying on their on-campus jobs, which had been promised to them during the late summer weeks, only to find out a week before their start date that their jobs had been taken away from them or their hours had been drastically reduced.

On top of the lack of proper notice, no effort was made to apologize to the students affected or help them find other employment.

Another subject of debate is the timing of when students were notified of their sudden unemployment status—the day after deans alerted department chairs that another round of budget cuts was on the horizon, making it difficult to believe the changes in employment were unrelated to collegewide cuts.

During the Spring 2015 Semester, The Chronicle reported on March 16 that departmental budget reductions and the minimum wage hike would lower the number of available on-campus jobs and hours available to students in the fall. In addition to a reduction in student worker positions, there was also a reduction in available federal work study positions for students.

However, the reduced budget finalized in May does not explain why students were hired and then fired in August.

While the college claims that no additional budget cuts have occurred since May that would affect the student employment budget this fall, several students were told that this was the reason their jobs were eliminated or hours reduced.

As a result, they’re struggling to get by when they should be concentrating on their studies. While the administration is adamant that these firings and reductions in hours should not have happened, it seems clear they did. This points to poor communication or worse, a disconnect between those making the policies and those carrying them out.

But the student workforce is not the only aspect of employment at Columbia that has been severely affected recently.

Faculty and staff have also been affected by positions eliminated by the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, the mass faculty and staff buyout program that offered one year of full-time salary at base pay to those who volunteered to leave the college by June 30 , as reported by The Chronicle on April 6.

An additional reduction in workforce among staff members followed the VSIP, as published July 7 on the United Staff of Columbia College’s website.

The students, staff and faculty of Columbia have been making adjustments repeatedly, and as Columbia’s tuition continuously increases, there is no evidence of the administration feeling the cuts.

The administration needs to develop better communication practices to show it values the students and employees it has.

When dealing with such delicate matters as student, staff or faculty layoffs, the college should evaluate how it delivers instruction to those in charge of carrying out the cuts and conduct more face-to-face conversations about these situations to minimize the chance of any mistakes being made in regards to hiring and layoffs.