Over the summer, the college switched their employment software from their old system, People Admin, to a new software called Workday. In the process of implementing this new system, many students employees and faculty members did not receive their pay as scheduled for three weeks.
College officials clarified in interviews with The Beacon that the issues stemmed from the transition and that the new system would ultimately streamline the process. But the glitches left employees without income that they rely on for everyday needs—students and faculty alike.
The college needs to prioritize fixing the employment experience as a whole on campus. Students and faculty expect to pass reasonable hiring practices and be provided with an efficient system to schedule and work hours. Most importantly, they deserve to be paid promptly and fairly for the work they do.
We understand that following this period of uncertainty over paychecks and reporting hours, the college is resolving issues with the new management system to return things to normal. The fact remains however that three weeks is too long of a time to leave your employees without pay.
The issue with Workday is not the first time students and faculty have battled the college over employment issues. Over the summer, contract changes for resident assistants caused controversy among students. In fall 2018, students complained that the Office of International Student Affairs was unresponsive when students sought internship and job help, and The Beacon previously reported on financial struggles for college union members in 2017.
Collecting a timely paycheck from an on-campus job is a necessity for a large sect of people employed by the college. In a city with an exuberantly high cost of living, and at a school with a steadily growing tuition cost, many students have no choice but to double as tap-desk assistants, library workers, and receptionists for different college offices. Student employment supplies an oftentimes crucial source of revenue for tuition and spending money. Repeated issues with hiring practices, scheduling systems, and payroll front a significant issue for students employees.
Plus, for a number of students, working on campus is as much a part of their college life as classes, extracurriculars, and social events. They’re putting the hours in to provide the college with a service, and not only do they deserve compensation for that service, they deserve treatment that shows the college respects them. Ensuring this huge part of campus life is up to students’ reasonable standards should be paramount—behind only the quality of our classes, activities, and professors.
While faculty members at Emerson have a formal union to negotiate and come to terms with the college over their pay, students do not have the same luxury. The Emerson College Student Union advocates on students’ behalf and recently released a “Disorientation Guide” for new students outlining their goals as an organization. But as a collective, student employees lack bargaining power. In this relationship, the college holds a great amount of power in their ability to determine pay rates and hours for student employees, without any clear form of recourse for dissatisfied students.
It is vital that the college improve its communication with student and faculty employees when it comes to serious matters, like paychecks and hours. The college had all summer to prepare for the transition to a new employment system, and instead it left their employees confused and upset over what should have been a smooth transition.