Students Finally Receive Regular Pay

Some employees still frustrated by payroll errors

After nearly two months of missed checks and incorrect payments, many student employees started receiving regular weekly checks from the University this Friday.

Martha E. Homer, director of the Student Employment Office, said she does not believe there are any student employees who have yet to receive at least one check from the University this semester.

But Harvard’s new electronic payroll system still has glitches, leaving some students waiting for back pay and receiving wages that are either too high or too low.

Hannah E. Wright ’06, who was owed as much as $350 last month for her work as an intramural athletics referee, recently received much of her back pay and got a regular paycheck from the University on Friday—although she said she was paid at too low of an hourly rate.

“I’m not sure I have the correct amount...but we did get paid,” Wright said. “I think it’s nice that we’re starting to get paid on a regular schedule...mostly, it’s really reassuring.”


Friday’s success is a result of a “multipronged” approach taken by the Office of Financial Administration, said Marilyn D. Touborg, director of communications for Harvard’s Office of Human Resources.

The office publicized a hotline for students owed back pay and placed a link to this information on the College’s website.

“What we tried to do was set up another system so that students didn’t just try to call their supervisors who had already done everything they could on their behalf,” Homer said.

Once complaints were registered, a “SWAT team” of both College and technical professionals attempted to deal with each individual situation, Touborg said.

But Walter S. Drisdell ’04, a Dorm Crew worker who had been owed nearly $100, took a different approach to recouping his back pay.

“What I ended up doing was writing [an e-mail] to a bunch of administrators including [University President Lawrence H.] Summers because someone else told me to do that,” he said. “I got a few e-mails back…and I got one phone call that said ‘I put some checks in your mailbox.’”

Drisdell said he found the back pay in his mailbox—along with an extra $70 due to a mistake in his hourly wage.

He said he has worked out a plan with Dorm Crew personnel to pay back the extra money.

Although Drisdell’s unorthodox approach was effective, Homer said she thinks such actions are no longer necessary.

“I think everyone is [now] aware of the problems,” she said.