Not NIU’s fault there are very few student jobs

By Aaron Brooks

I love my job. The only downside is the paper pays me in nickels, but at least the federal government’s work-study aid gives me some greenbacks.

It is not like I could keep a regular job anyway. Not that I am lazy or have excessive flatulence, but I have two other jobs: father and student. So, with my limited free time, I appreciate the flexible schedule in which I can complete my column.

I had a friend who was a senior last year and worked 30 to 40 hours a week on top of taking 18 credit hours; I do not know how she did it. There are only 168 hours in a week. A person should sleep 64 hours, which leaves 104 hours a week. If you take 15 credit hours you are in class for 12.5 hours a week.

Science says you should study two hours for each hour you are in class, so that is another 25 hours. Combined school should take up 37.5 hours a week. Give five hours a day for hygiene, travel, food, and the gym, then you are down to 4.5 hours a day free.

I guess it is possible, 4.5 multiplied by seven equals 31.5; however, I would think you would go crazy.

And that is what is so nice about student jobs. You generally work 10-20 hours a week, which leaves plenty of time for the essentials: social, school and couch. Plus, there are other perks.

For example, Latasha Bennett, a junior family and child studies major, says this about her job in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development: “I like working for the university because my supervisors are compromising. If you have to study or go see a professor they work around your schedule; they know you are a student first.”

I am sure Lauryn Pevonka, junior hospitality major, would like a flexible schedule. Pevonka works 30 to 40 hours a week at Ruby Tuesday, and is taking 12 credit hours at NIU. She said she likes her job, except, “I ask for days off before an exam or when I need to study, but they still schedule me anyway.”

Well Lauren, if you get fed up with Ruby Tuesday you can always get a job through the school…or can you?

Celeste Latham, director of Human Resource Operations, said there are 6,500 resumes in NIU student employment database. This year there are approximately 5,021 student jobs. You could figure that there are some resumes in the database are old, and if you sent your resume to specific job openings and went into to talk to those supervisors you would have a decent shot at getting the job.

The 5,021 student jobs, however, are not all available. In reality only about 25 percent of the positions open each year due to graduating seniors, and most undergrads stay employed through the university from year-to-year.

The outlook is not getting any better. Student employment relies on funds from the State of Illinois. State funds appropriated to NIU are going to decrease six percent in 2011. A three to six percent decrease in student jobs would eliminate 150-300 student jobs in 2011.

Steve Cunningham, vice president of Human Resources and Compliance, and Latham have done their best to save student jobs despite a minimum wage increase coupled with a decline in state appropriations. Both Cunningham and Latham realize how important student jobs are for the student and the university, however, they are not magicians.

The State of Illinois or NIU President John Peters needs to drastically reconsider their priorities.

Either the state needs to increase funds to higher education so students can afford and have time for an education, or Peters needs to change his Vision 2020 Initiative goal of increasing graduation rates; because if students have to work 30 to 40 hours a week, that goal will not be accomplished.