AARON SKUBBY, News Editor—Denison Administration is working towards examining how current student employment practices can be improved, with a goal of offering a plan to students by the spring semester.
The effort is being headed by Vice President of Student Development Alex Miller alongside Melanie Murphy, who is the Director of the Knowlton Center for Career Exploration. Miller first announced the plan in an email on September 22.
Miller said that he was first alerted to the need for changes to student employment “through students who have seen me on campus and have walked up to me and mentioned their concerns.”
Murphy explained that the effort began with an open call in an email from President Weinberg asking for interested people or nominations for a Student Employment Committee. “The response was overwhelming,” she said, “indicating that many people had ideas and aspirations for what student employment should look like at Denison.”
Due to the widespread interest, the administration opted to host a series of community conversations instead of trying to form a large and potentially hard to manage committee. Miller echoed a similar sentiment, saying that “it’s really just a working group across the university to look at student employment.”
In his email, Miller outlined five goals:
- Examine current state so we have a good understanding of student employment across departments on campus.
- Develop a vision for student employment and create a more organized and systematic student employment program.
- Create a helpful support structure for student employees, including guidance on financial aid and tax questions, and pathways for conflict resolution
- Ensure availability of campus employment for international students.
- Focus on making sure there is deep educational value and that student employment helps students develop personal and professional pathways.
At the time of the email the administration had already implemented a policy to pay students who have to enter quarantine or isolation for COVID-19.
Miller explained the twofold importance of employment for the student experience: “First, student employment provides an income source for many students on campus who need and want it,” he said. “Second, on-campus employment adds to the education of students by helping students develop meaningful relationships with staff and faculty while acquiring work-place skills that help students compete for internships, jobs, and graduate programs.”
Murphy explained the role that the Knowlton Center plays in the student employment process. “Every role you hold on campus, whether through employment or co-curricular involvement is an opportunity to build skills sought out by employers,” she said. “It’s our job in the Knowlton Center to help students understand how to articulate their experiences, so the Knowlton Center is a natural partner in this campus-wide work.”
When asked if a wage increase would be possible, Miller said “nothing is off the table,” and highlighted that it has been a common concern of students.
Students who are interested in participating in the conversation are encouraged to reach out to Melanie Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org)