For many students at Brandeis University, securing employment on campus is not just a matter of earning extra spending money or gaining valuable work experience. It’s a necessity, a means to help offset the ever-rising costs of higher education and to make ends meet. However, for those without the coveted Work-Study aid, the path to employment is often fraught with obstacles, frustrations and a concerning lack of transparency and equity. This editorial aims to dissect these issues, emphasizing the need for equitable employment opportunities and recognition of student contributions to the University's branding and operations.

At the heart of the matter is the observation that student jobs, crucial to the marketing and daily operations of Brandeis, are often advertised as available yet remain elusive for many who apply. The lack of transparency and communication — where applicants are left in the dark about the status of their applications — does not just signify operational inefficiency; it highlights a disconcerting disregard for students' time and financial needs. The reality that this issue is not exclusive to those without Work Study but also affects those within the program adds another layer of concern. Students, irrespective of their financial aid status, encounter similar obstacles, pointing to a systemic issue that transcends individual circumstances.

The University’s treatment of its student workforce can be perceived as dismissive, given the long waits for job confirmations and the curtailing of work hours. It is common for first-years to take two and a half months or more to get their first job offer. Furthermore, the restriction to a 10-20 hour work week, forces some students to juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet, reflecting a failure to recognize the economic realities facing college students. Certain members on the editorial board, despite holding two jobs, cannot fulfill the Financial Aid Office's projected budget, underscoring the disconnect between the University's policies and the financial pressures students face.

In a move that has significantly impacted student employment opportunities, Brandeis has made notable changes to its operational structure, including the alteration of its shuttle service provider. This decision has led to a comprehensive overhaul of the shuttle system, resulting in an unexpected dismissal of students employed as BranVan drivers. These students, who once navigated both campus and Waltham routes, suddenly found themselves out of work due to the administrative shift. Compounding the issue, the University has also phased out other student positions, such as those for COVID-19 testing assistants, which further narrows the already limited job prospects for the student body. While the introduction of new roles offers some solace, the number of positions available is minimal. This addition does little to offset the loss of the previously available roles, leaving a significant gap in the employment options for students on campus.

To offer more open positions to students, this board urges the University to consider student leadership positions in secured clubs to be paid. The Student Leader Prize Policy, originally established in 2021 to address barriers to involvement in student leadership roles, aims to award student’s involvement and leadership on campus. BEMCo, Campus Activity Board, SSIS, Student Union and Waltham Group are provided prizes annually.  In the Community Advisor Program, Community Advisors work with our on-campus student population in all of our residence halls and wear many “hats,” such as community builder, residential educator and programmer, community standards educator, peer advisor and team player within Community Living. Although they work hard to provide us a safe and comfortable community to live in, they do not get paid. According to the program page, they receive $1,500 meal swipe compensation and a guaranteed single room on-campus. This board believes that CAs should be paid as a student job since this compensation is highly inflexible and doesn't match with the effort they contribute to the community. 

In the end, the issue of student employment without Work Study is not merely a matter of dollars and cents. It is a reflection of Brandeis’ values and its commitment to upholding the principles of equity, opportunity and respect for the countless contributions made by its students. By addressing the systemic issues plaguing the current employment landscape, Brandeis can pave the way for a brighter future — one where every student's efforts are valued and their potential is nurtured, regardless of their financial circumstances.