Student Employment Experience Committee strives to improve student worker conditions

February 12, 2015

On Feb. 2, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olsen announced the creation of the Student Employment Experience Committee (SEEC). The committee hosted a listening session last Thursday in the Healey Family Student Center to hear directly from student employees about their experiences on campus.

GUSA partnered with the university’s division of student affairs, department of human resources, and director of business policy and planning to create the new ad hoc committee to assess the quality of employment experience of students who work on campus.

“This started because we administrators on campus … heard from some students associated with GUSA and particularly the Office of the Student Worker Advocate that they wanted to start this conversation about what the student experience is as employees on campus,” Olsen said.

According to Olsen, the goal of the committee is to use student workers’ experiences to understand and address some of the issues they face. “In the first couple months of our work, we want to hear what some of these issues are,” he said. “We know some of this is around the clarity of their role, their training orientations, and what are the boundaries of their roles as a student employees.”

SEEC’s members currently include three undergraduate students, one graduate student, “six to seven administrators” according to Olsen, and an impending faculty representative. The members will work together to make recommendations for strengthening the student employment experience on campus, with the goal of submitting a final report providing guidelines for employers and students by the end of September.

“We had five or six testimonies. Some were sent by paper,” said Esmeralda Huerta (SFS ’17), an undergraduate member of SEEC. “One of the girls who came in shared her experience in being an RA, and how being that position was a vulnerable position.”

Huerta believes that the testimonies were helpful for administrators because it gave them an intimate connection with the students’ work experiences. “I think it was really helpful for them and the committee in general. We’re still figuring out the logistics of how to assess student employment experience,” she said. “From this meeting, we got the realization that we might want to do more face-to-face interviews.”

According to SEEC member Steven Orozco (MSB ’18), the focus of the committee is to develop guidelines that can be distributed across different employers. According to Orozco, current guidelines are specific to each job and there tends to be significant variation.

The SEEC student representatives have a few ideas, including establishing guidelines to help students find replacement jobs and rules standardizing how many absences student workers are permitted.

“I would say the experience that I had at my job brought me to this committee,” said Orozco. “So now it’s more about figuring out how my experience as a student employee can improve other students’ experience as employees.”

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