Pomona Should Reconsider How It Funds Work Study Opportunities

Among the multitude of budget cuts this year, a rather large sum of money is being removed from the Pomona College work-study employment program.

Approximately fifteen years ago, Pomona decided that it wanted to afford all students the opportunity to work regardless of status on financial aid. Today, 70 percent of students hold on campus jobs, for a total work-study budget of 2.3 million dollars, according to an article published in TSL this week. The college’s aim is to remove $500,000 from the budget at the beginning of next year. They are approaching this problem in two directions. First, they are adjusting the work-study allotments of many students, shrinking the allotments for those students that are not on financial aid, and adjusting the policy so that students who are on financial aid cannot apply to increase their total allotment. Second, the college is asking all departments who employ students to prioritize the positions they have based on two criteria: professional development and importance to the operation of the office in question.

We believe that some money should be cut from the work study budget, and not every campus job is worth keeping. We do not want to claim that students should not be subject to an allotment, as that spending cap ensures that all students have the opportunity to work on campus.

However, it seems that this money is budgeted in two separate ways. Consider this paper, which receives a set allotment for student wages. TSL has to both ensure that the total cost of student wages to operate the paper is below the total amount allotted to us, and we have to find new employees when our current employees run out of available allotment. Now, as much as we enjoy seeing new faces around the office, we think that this policy of double budgeting is a little redundant and places undue strain on our search for experienced employees.

We do need to accept that the work positions around campus should be spread evenly among students. Workers at the gym, or the coop, although necessary positions, probably do not need to work beyond their allotted pay. In many ways, this applies to positions like TSL, and the various departmental teaching assistant programs as well. However, organizations like TSL, and positions like class mentors and teaching assistants are given to qualified applicants. For TSL that qualification might be journalism experience and a working knowledge of the quirky methods of our paper, and for departments, teaching assistants need to have taken the appropriate classes and developed a depth of understanding which will allow them to teach other students. When organizations that require this level of skill can no longer hire the people who have those skills, it becomes very difficult to operate. Although TSL might easily find an additional photographer or writer, it would be much more difficult to find a top editor during the middle of the semester.

TSL is not alone in this demand for qualified students. First, teaching assistants get better the more they work. Second, although they have in depth knowledge in the area that they are helping to teach, it is easier to assist with a class that you have experienced from beginning to end, rather than learn a professor’s methods six weeks into the semester.

The college is requiring organizations to budget their employment spending, as well as requiring individuals to budget their employment. Although this is fair on some levels, the addition of stricter allotment regulations will make it so that organizations that demand skilled labor and extensive time commitments from their employees, could be forced out of employing workers by a rigid funding structure.

By not considering allotment increases and budgeting organizations without taking salaries into account, the school cannot coherently fund those organizations. For a student who works solely at TSL, increasing their allotment would not increase the total cost for the college as that total cost is still regulated by the employment budget of the specific organization. We need our staff, they are extremely devoted to the production of the paper, and if we are unable to employ them, the quality of TSL will certainly suffer.

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