The Office of the Student Worker Advocate has sponsored an ongoing survey to determine the needs and concerns of student workers in the Georgetown community to help inform university administrators as they make decisions affecting student workers, including the potential consolidation of Residence Hall Offices mailrooms into one facility.
Originally created in 2014 to work under the Office of the Student Worker Advocate branch, OSWA counsels students who have labor issues and connects employees to appropriate resources and offices.
To help fulfill these responsibilities, OSWA is conducting its annual survey, called, “The State of the GU Student Worker,” to gauge student worker conditions.
Cassidy Jensen (COL ’18), OSWA co-chair and one of the survey creators, said the survey will provide hard data to bring to the administration.
“It’s really important to us for people to fill this out so that we have the fullest picture and most accurate data,” Jensen said. “If we are going to the administration and saying, ‘look, this is a problem, for this many people, who use their money is these ways,’ it’s helpful to have as many responses as possible.”
According to Jensen, OSWA also hopes to determine where to focus resources moving forward.
This year’s survey features an entire section devoted to collecting information on RHO employees, in response to recent proposals by university administration within Auxiliary Business Services to consolidate RHO mailrooms.
“We would have one giant center and students would go there to pick up their mail,” OSWA co-chair Esmeralda Huerta (SFS ’17) said. “The reasoning for this is that mail trucks clog up traffic around Georgetown, but in any case, we realized it could mean a lot of job losses for students.”
Jensen said OSWA is collecting data to see how this change could impact student workers.
“We are operating under the assumption that if it takes place, it will have some impact on student jobs,” Jensen said. “We want to know who is working in the RHOs, if they are work study and if they will be able to find other work study jobs on campus.”
According to Huerta, OSWA hopes to use the survey results to estimate the number of students who will be affected and how their incomes will be affected by a sudden loss of federal work-study jobs.
“Hopefully we can go to the university and say, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t do this. You’re going to affect this many students in this many ways, and as a university, your primary concern should be the students and not necessarily clogging up traffic in the neighborhood,’” Huerta said.
With the survey, OSWA also seeks to learn how the minimum wage increase in the District has impacted student wages, primarily library workers.
“Student workers in the library used to receive wage increases each semester they worked there. Now there’s a different system because of the minimum wage increase,” Jensen said. “Library workers are trying to fight that and want a return to the old system. We’re trying to see if that is happening anywhere else.”
Apart from the RHO and library wage concerns, Jensen said they hope they can learn if student workers know what resources are available to them and what other issues concern workers.
“We want to know if they are having a problem with a supervisor, if they are experiencing sexual harassment, if they have a question about their duties or are paid consistently late, that they know who to go to,” Jensen said. “It’s good feedback for us and for the Student Employment Office.”
Huerta said the data from previous surveys has been helpful in addressing student concerns in the past.
“One of the facts we realized was that around 70 percent of students weren’t going to the [Student Employment Office] even when they had problems,” Huerta said. “There was a disparity between what’s going on with student employment and access to resources.”
In response to the first survey in 2014, OSWA organized a committee with the SEO to publish a student worker handbook for hourly employees to consolidate rights, responsibilities and codes of conduct for students over the following spring and summer semesters.
According to Huerta, this year’s survey has been adapted after having conversations with student workers and observing campus trends.
Kyle Rinaudo (SFS ’18), an RHO worker in Copley Hall and a Resident Assistant, said he is aware and appreciative of the support offered to him by Georgetown.
“I do love working with the school and have never felt anything but supported by them,” Rinaudo said. “Other than the way my RA benefits are calculated into financial aid, I have no complaints. As for the resources I would need, I theoretically know who to reach out to.”
New South RHO Manager Raven Dunstan (COL ’16) said she has always felt supported as a student worker at Georgetown.
“Personally, I am aware of resources that I could reach out to if I encountered any difficulties in my capacity as a student worker,” she said. “I have always felt supported within my position and for this reason I have felt comfortable working for the university for my four years here.”
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