Are the starship robots taking away valuable student employment opportunities?
Harvest Table and Student Financial Services respond to concerns regarding student employment opportunities.
As campus is filled with more students than ever before, the demand for student employment has reached new heights. But many positions that could be options for student employment, like staffing the dining halls or other food service providers on campus, are not open to students. The Justice contacted both Student Financial Services and Harvest Table executives over email to get a better understanding of the future of student employment through Harvest Table.
The Justice: How long is the contract that Harvest Table has with Starship?
Harvest Table’s Executive Director of Hospitality Clayton Hargrove: Our relationship with Starship is approximately two years old. We work with them daily to upgrade the platform based on guest requests.
The Justice: As Starship is contracted through Harvest Table, why did Harvest Table pick Starship over other companies?
Hargrove: We had a previously established working relationship with Starship. They are industry leaders in robot and mobile order technology, providing a more seamless user experience than the former KiwiBots.
The Justice: Would Harvest Table be able to hire student workers directly, similar to an off-campus position, or is the hiring process still through Brandeis?
Student Financial Services: Student Financial Services doesn't actually create the jobs, the departments that hire students do. Student employment is only involved in processing the jobs and hiring students into them. There are new postings that go up every week, but the bulk of hiring happens in late August and early September.
A previous correspondence with Student Financial Services also explained that the Harvest Table hiring process is separate from the University as, “All of the employees that work for Harvest Table are hired by them directly. They are not hired by student employment.”
The Justice: Food delivery would be a great opportunity for student employment, has this been considered by Harvest Table?
Hargrove: Student workers are a huge part of making the robot delivery successful. They ensure the bots are filled on time, with accurate orders before the journey across campus for delivery.
The Justice: Can students expect job opportunities with Harvest Table in the future?
Hargrove: Absolutely! We are currently hiring GS 1’s [General Schedule], cashiers, and robot delivery/loaders. Unfortunately, we cannot hire for other positions than this, as we have to protect the jobs of our Union Workers”
The Justice: As stated in the Starship FAQ found through the app, some orders may be delivered by humans for various reasons. Could this be a position for students?
Hargrove: If the bots are under maintenance during normal delivery hours student workers could assist in face-to-face delivery.
The Justice: With the increase in student population, is Student Financial Services working to create more jobs for students?
Student Financial Services: Although the Office of Student Financial Services provides students with listings of available positions on campus, it cannot guarantee employment. While Federal Work Study does not guarantee an on-campus position, it does give students hiring priority. Only students with FWS should apply for jobs and be hired prior to Oct. 1. This is stated very clearly on every job that is posted. A large percentage of hiring is done in those first weeks of school and we spend a great deal of time making sure priority is given to the students with demonstrated financial need. If there is a student who wants to work but is having difficulty finding a job we are always happy to work with them individually.
The Justice: As work-study is outlined in some student financial aid packages, is Brandeis working to guarantee that these jobs will be available for students on campus?
Student Financial Services: Each year there are many students who choose not to use their work-study. The FWS allotment is not credited to the student's account. Instead, students receive a weekly paycheck based on actual hours worked. If a student chooses not to work then they don't earn that income to use towards indirect costs such as books, supplies and other miscellaneous personal expenses. There is no requirement to repay the unused allotment and it does not prohibit them from being awarded FWS in future years.
As the Brandeis campus is filled with delivery robots, some students continue to question whether these jobs could be given to those who are unwillingly unemployed. Student Financial Services is willing to help students find on-campus jobs, not including jobs affiliated with Harvest Table. While Harvest Table is open to hiring students for other positions, the Starship robots are here to stay for the foreseeable future.