How has COVID-19 impacted student jobs?

Photo by Scott Schmidt
Memorial Union Javastop workers Jordan, Kat and Kaityln. Javastop is one of the only food related shops currently open in the MU.

McKenzie Moore, News Contributor

COVID-19 has had a widespread impact on the Oregon State University community by implementing new guidelines and strict rules that impacted student employees. 

On March 20, OSU moved to limit on-campus student employment to strictly critical functions following Oregon governor Kate Brown’s executive order.

Since the implementation the university has strived to ensure that most students could retain their employment. Heavy restrictions had to be put in place to make sure that student employees could keep their jobs amidst a growing pandemic. 

Those in charge of ensuring that as many students as possible could retain their jobs at OSU are employers like James Cassidy. Cassidy is the director of the OSU student farms which employs students.

According to Cassidy, “the student farm’s strength has always been ‘down with the man! We can do anything together.” His workers have thrived off of being able to work closely together in groups.

Cassidy has had to redesign the way that his student workers operate the farm to ensure that they are social distancing and following the governor’s pandemic guidelines. New protocols Cassidy has established to ensure worker safety include reducing the number of workers who could be on the field at a time and eliminating large group gatherings. While Cassidy says that COVID-19 has brought many challenges to both him and his student workers, these challenges have brought excitement and “newness” to the job.

Students like Yonathan Viquez, an international student who works as a customer service assistant at the Valley Library, also stresses the challenges that COVID-19 has brought. Viqeuz said that “COVID has impacted my job by decreasing the amount of hours I work per week.” In his case, his hours decreased from 20 hours to 10 hours. 

To ensure that students stay safe, Viquez said the library is sanitized, andall floors except the first floor had to be shut down to ensure that library employees could properly monitor students and ensure that they are staying safe.

Sierra Bechdoldt, who has worked as a teacher’s assistant for the Business 160 series for over a year, also emphasized the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to her job. According to Bechdolt, “The biggest challenge, by far, is helping new OSU business freshmen feel like OSU is their home and helping them get adjusted to the college.”  

Trying to do this while being mindful of pandemic guidelines has been a big challenge for Bechdoldt. Luckily for her, the Business 160 series was able to do a mix of in-person and virtual learning so Bechdoldt is able to engage in person with her students to help them succeed.

While the pandemic has brought various challenges to student jobs at OSU, both employers and students have expressed a willingness to adjust and make things work to the best of their abilities.

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