Student jobs among those at risk during budget shortfall

by Danny Fisher

Sun Star Layout Editor

02/17/2015

The UAF budget shortfall, which has the potential to be more than $14 million, will have an impact on student jobs according to Marmian Grimes, UAF senior public information officer. “It is almost certain that student jobs, like faculty or staff, will be affected,” Grimes said.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, between the fall semesters of 2013 and 2014, the total number of UAF employees dropped by 160. Out of these, 75 (47 percent) were positions held by student employees.

Grimes said that the university is trying to manage job cuts primarily through attrition, or not filling those positions which are left vacant after an employee chooses to leave. According to Grimes, student jobs may be easier to eliminate through attrition because of their high turnover rates.  However, budget cuts are being handled differently within different UAF departments.

“What works best for balancing the budget for the College of Engineering and Mines may not work best for Res Life,” Grimes said.

Residence Life, which employs between 150 to 200 student workers at a time, has not faced cuts in student employment. “We’ve been very fortunate right now to retain the staff we have,” Associate Director of Residence Life Jamie Abreu said.

Abreu said that student jobs give workers the opportunity to make money to pay for school and gain job experience. The Residence Life website also states that UAF students who hold part-time working positions perform better in their academic life than unemployed students.

Many of the tutoring services offered on campus are staffed by students, including the math lab, writing center and peer mentoring program that the First Year Experience program provides.

Student job retention will also be affected by the expiration of grants funding student research positions, which makes it difficult to track where losses are coming from, according to Grimes. The university is also working with tentative numbers currently as they wait for a finalized funding budget from the Alaska legislature, which is currently in session.

The amount of state funding the university receives will be a factor in further considerations about UAF employment. This university is going to do the best it can to keep student jobs available, according to Abreu.

“It’s so important for our students to have the opportunity of employment, but it’s also important that we meet the needs of the students we have,” Abreu said.

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