By Kaleigh Cortez, Staff Writer–
With increasing unemployment in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic, UTC students and campus supervisors worried about the availability of jobs on campus for the fall semester.
Student Employment Coordinator for the Office of Financial Aid, Endia Butler, feared that there would be a major change in the number of jobs available on campus for students because of the pandemic.
“To my surprise, we had the same, maybe more, jobs available than last year…so far, we actually have a shortage of students,” she said.
Butler works with work study and academic service students to find employment on campus. She said one of the biggest issues the pandemic caused was that many departments could no longer employ students because their offices could not facilitate social distancing guidelines.
However, this loss of positions was offset by the Campus Recreation department which created 22 new jobs for students. Additionally, with the completion of Lupton Hall, the University Center hired around 10 more students for the first-floor information desks.
Butler believes the current pandemic has not made it more difficult for students to find employment.
“In terms of finding jobs, it’s no different than it’s been every year,” she said.
Many returning students had to be moved to different departments or change to remote work to continue earning their work study award.
“It’s been returning students who are doing the remote work…it’s a job they’ve already had, so they’ve done it a million times. Now they’re just doing it at home,” Butler said.
Aaron Grisham, the Director of the University Center, expressed his concerns about hiring students during the pandemic.
“We approached this semester as full operation, full hours,” he said. “The challenge this year was not being able to do what we normally do to hire in the spring, but also expanding our staff so much,” he continued.
Senior from New Tazewall, Matt N. Walker, has worked at the library as an academic service student for years. Like many student employees, he has his own worries.
“My only concern at the beginning was if they were going to allow us to return,” he said.
The library has taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of its student workers during the pandemic.
“The library is keeping student workers in the back to limit their time with the public…they also make sure we do the health checks every day, and they made sure we knew that if we feel sick, we do not have to come to work,” Walker said.
Departments all across campus are focused on the health and safety of students and have followed all of the necessary guidelines to keep the university open through the pandemic.