Harvey Mudd raises $137,000 for furloughed employees

Harvey Mudd College’s furloughed employees making less than $40,000 a year will be prioritized for awards. (Jojo Sanders • The Student Life)

Harvey Mudd College established an Employee Emergency Relief Fund for furloughed workers at the end of August and has since raised $137,000 as of Oct. 13, according to emails from college officials.

Fully furloughed employees who make less than $65,000 a year can apply for grants of up to $1,500, according to the college’s website. Employees making less than $40,000 a year will be prioritized for awards. 

“We acknowledge that $1,500 may not seem like a lot, but it will make a difference to the furloughed employees,” the website said, adding that some furloughed employees have already begun receiving state unemployment benefits. 

Faculty and staff can contribute to the fund through donations, payroll deductions or a voluntary temporary salary reduction, according to the website and an email sent by college officials that TSL obtained.

On Sept. 10, the fund announced it was revising its fundraising goal from $100,000 to $200,000 to expand the support provided to furloughed employees via health insurance subsidies and loans, according to the website.

As of Oct. 13, the fund has distributed $24,000 in awards. The fund will continue to award employees as they apply. Fifty-five percent of the donations to the EERF have come from staff, 27 percent from faculty and eight percent from trustees, Mudd spokesperson Judy Augsburger said via email. 

Awards are non-taxable but will only be given to employees with “reasonable and necessary personal, family, living or funeral expenses” incurred as a result of COVID-19, including education costs for the employee or their dependents, medical expenses, childcare and elder care, the website said. 

“The furloughed staff have been extremely grateful to the college for all their efforts, including the generosity of faculty and staff who have made contributions to EERF to make this possible,” the website said.

Mudd previously committed to paying the employer’s portion of the furloughed employees’ health insurance during the furloughed period. After meeting its initial goal, the EERF announced it will also pay for the employee’s portion of health insurance during as much of the furloughed period as possible, the website said in its September update. 

Covering employee’s premiums for the rest of 2020 will cost approximately $80,000, the website said. Since the Sept. 10 update, “the college community has already raised enough funds with the EERF to cover employee health care costs for furloughed employees for September through December 2020,” Augsberger said. 

Because some individuals cannot benefit from either program due to “not having any eligible non-taxable disbursement or not being on the college’s health insurance plan,” a forgivable Emergency Loan Program has also been created, according to the Sept. 10 update. 

The program will provide no-interest loans of up to $2,500 to eligible furloughed employees, and the loans will be forgiven after one to three years of work depending on the term and loan amount, according to the September update. 

ASHMC announced in an email to students Oct. 5 that it would donate a maximum of $10,000 to the EERF via student fees.

Students can use a form to mark how much of their student dues they would like ASHMC to donate to the fund, with a maximum of $20 per student.

ASHMC collected $120.40 (80 percent of the usual $150.50 amount) per student as part of its semesterly student dues for events and initiatives. It received a total amount of $99,570.80 for the fall semester and has allocated $69,222.74 towards activities, currently leaving them with $30,348.06. 

Pomona College announced a similar fund, the Sagehen Employee Support Fund, in early October for its 264 furloughed employees. Mudd and Pomona are the only two 5Cs to have announced such funds. 

Scripps College announced Aug. 21 that it had partially furloughed 59 employees, and Pitzer College has not issued any mandatory furloughs for employees. Claremont McKenna College has not announced or confirmed any voluntary or mandatory furloughs.

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