The University of Kansas abruptly closed its campus on March 17 in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, leaving student employees wondering how the decision would impact their work and/or compensation.
“The University is operational and will continue to pay employees, including student employees, and expect that they will continue to work and serve the university by completing assignments without coming to campus,” said University spokesperson Erinn Barcomb-Peterson in an email to the Kansan.
Students unable to work remotely will be paid based on the average hours they have worked this calendar year, Barcomb-Peterson said.
For Benjamin Wagner, a senior from Wichita studying pharmacy, the campus closure has resulted in him being offered more shifts at the Watkins Health Center pharmacy.
Christa Stenzel, a senior from De Soto studing social work and psychology, said working as a student assistant for analytics and institutional research allows her to easily work remotely. Stenzel said working for the University over the past four years has been a positive experience.
“I know many student employees at other universities that are now unemployed, so I appreciate the University’s decision to continue paying us,” Stenzel said.
However, for JasperJune Hawkins, a junior from Lawrence studying journalism, this is not the case for the time being.
Hawkins, who works for Rock Chalk Video and Lawrence Parks and Recreation, said she is currently not receiving any form of compensation from the city. Hawkins said she will likely have to wait until next month to receive a paycheck for her work at Rock Chalk Video.
While Hawkins said she understands the extenuating circumstances, she’s had to start using her savings to pay for expenses such as rent, utilities and groceries.
“I worry about other students who are in the same situation but have not been able to save due to different circumstances,” Hawkins said.
Jane Trembley, a senior from Santa Fe, New Mexico, studying vocal performance, said her hope is that all University employers are paying their employees through the remainder of the semester. Trembley works as the student events coordinator at the Lied Center.
“Even though some of our jobs are small, and some people don’t work loads of hours, that small amount of money makes a huge difference during this time,” Trembley said.