Reducing student employment hours on campus is one of the worst things that ONU can do to its students. While it is understandable that institutions of higher education occasionally need to adjust their student payroll allocation to stay within their budget, at ONU this could be detrimental. Students staff all areas of university life – from daily meals as dining workers on campus to art gallery attendants. A reduction in hours would result in inefficiency in campus service, and also would impact student’s financial well-being. ONU is located in a small town, with limited employment opportunities available within a reasonable distance. Reduction of student employment will increase competition for employment opportunities on campus and some students will be left without the ability to have meaningful employment. 

Students rely on student employment to stay afloat during their college years. The flexibility that student employment offers is essential to the college experience because it allows students to maintain a stream of income while focusing on their education. This income is not simply “play money.” For some students, this is how they are affording their living expenses, feeding their pets and even funding their tuition. Reduction in hours for these student workers will directly impact their finances. Creating financial burden on students is counterproductive to everything ONU stands for as one of the most affordable private institutions.

It may be argued that students can seek employment off-campus if they are in financial need. However, due to the location of the campus, most employment opportunities are a significant commute away. For students without vehicles, this is not an option. For these same students, working in town may also be too far to reach by foot, especially in inclement weather which Ada is known for. Students who do have vehicles should not be penalized to seek part time employment outside of campus which will be minimal when commuting costs are deducted. Further, employment that requires a commute is not conducive to a pro-learning environment. 

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Student employment allows its workers to focus on what is most important – their education. Reducing the availability of hours for these workers will directly impact students in their wallet, but ultimately will impact their mental health. It is well known that mental health deteriorates as financial issues worsen. Some students have budgeted their finances over their time at ONU based on how much they are currently making as student employees. If this changes drastically, these students will have to unexpectedly figure out how to make ends meet. 

Furthermore, grants, scholarships, and even student loans are not always enough to cover tuition, living expenses and textbooks. Many students rely on student employment to cover the gap. A drastic reduction in student employment and available hours will create a stressful situation for all student workers. Additionally, not all students have familial financial support, and some students even have their own families to support. It may even be discouraging to potential incoming students who will recognize that the availability of employment in town is slim and commuting to a nearby town where there is more availability is impractical. 

“Reducing the availability of hours for these workers will directly impact students in their wallet, but ultimately will impact their mental health.”

In any community, when individuals feel pressed for money, crime rates rise. Thefts increase, illicit sales begin and people start engaging in activities that will resolve the issues created because they do not have enough money. Decreasing student employment hours will force students to come up with creative solutions to make money. They will be funneling their attention towards “side hustles” and will likely begin to perform poorly academically. It is in ONU’s best interest to not reduce student employment hours. Student employment assists students in having a positive college experience so they do not have to worry about finances while they are achieving their academic goals – its importance should not be overlooked.

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