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Harvard College Asks Students Who Cannot Continue On-Campus Jobs to Seek New Employment, Will Pay Students Working From Afar

Some undergraduates found themselves without work and pay as they vacated campus due to the coronavirus.
Some undergraduates found themselves without work and pay as they vacated campus due to the coronavirus. By Delano R. Franklin
By Juliet E. Isselbacher and Amanda Y. Su, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard will continue to pay students who can perform their on-campus jobs in a remote setting, asking students who cannot do so to seek other employment opportunities through the Student Employment Office, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar Michael P. Burke wrote in an email to undergraduates Monday afternoon.

The University announced two weeks ago that campus would not reopen for classes after spring break in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. For weeks after the news broke, many students with on-campus jobs wondered how they would make up the lost income from their term-time employment if they did not receive their previous salaries.

Many students hold jobs staffing various facilities — including gyms, package centers, and house grilles — that require them to be physically present at Harvard.

Madison J. H. Earle ’20, who previously worked 12 to 15 hours each week at the Smith Campus Center, said her campus job was essential to her livelihood.

“A lot of students on Harvard's campus are only working those jobs because we do need to support ourselves financially in some way,” she said. “We're not working those jobs for fun or for some sort of extracurricular activity.”

Earle said she thinks it is “unrealistic” for these students to find remote campus jobs, citing factors like the financial burden of internet access, restrictions for international students like herself, and low numbers of open remote jobs for students.

Burke wrote in a missive last Thursday that student employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic will receive a weekly stipend equal to the average of the weekly pay earned in February until May 17.

He retracted the statement in a note several hours later, writing that he “inadvertently” included incorrect information about the College’s policies surrounding student employment.

Lindey M. Kneib ’20, who previously worked 20 hours a week in the Winthrop House office, said in a Saturday interview that she was “relieved” and “excited” when she read Burke’s original email promising weekly stipends to students who cannot complete their campus work remotely.

“I relied on that income. And I know a lot of other Harvard student employees also rely on that income,” she said. “ I was like, this makes sense, because if we were back on campus, we would still be working and it wasn't our choice to leave.”

Lindey added that she was “absolutely deflated” when Burke sent out the retraction moments later.

In his most recent email on Monday, Burke added that students whose financial aid packages included a term-time work expectation will now only have to complete half of that original expectation.

He further noted that the difference in lost revenue will be supplemented by a Harvard scholarship.

Raphael Tsiamis ’22 — who works as a course assistant and can continue his job remotely — said he appreciated the reduction in required work for students on financial aid, but that he thought it should primarily go to students who cannot continue their previous jobs.

“I already have a job, so I think it would be good to divert this money to students who won't be able to continue their term-time jobs,” he said.

—Staff writer Juliet E. Isselbacher can be reached at juliet.isselbacher@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @julietissel.

—Staff writer Amanda Y. Su can be reached at amanda.su@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandaysu.

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