By Taylor Stoudt
At 9:30 p.m. on Friday, March 29, students working as lifeguards at the Meek Aquatics and Recreation Center received an email from Aquatic Director Michael Kroll informing then of the cut in hours at Meek and Edwards Gymnasium. For some students, this was less than three days’ notice that they would no longer have a work-study job.
The Federal Work-Study program is a program offered at Ohio Wesleyan for students who qualify for financial aid. Through the program, funded by the federal government as part of the U.S. Department of Education, students earn money for their education by working for the school.
Each year OWU receives a certain amount of work-study funds that they then distribute to students who qualify. Students are then given the number of hours they are required to work in order to fulfill their federal work study and receive their financial aid.
According to a written response from Facilities Director Dustin Rudegeair, the cut in hours is a result in the failure to properly budget student employment funds and the number of work hours given to students.
“The cuts that have been made recently are due to the amount of student employment funds remaining in this year’s budget,” Rudegeair wrote. “While it is unfortunate that these cuts had to take place this year, we are still proud of the fact that between Meek and Edwards we were able to provide nearly 100 students with an on-campus job throughout most of the school year. We have also already identified ways to prevent this from happening in the future(.)”
In the email Kroll sent to students Friday evening, he included the changes to Meek’s hours of operation and the need to redraft the work schedule.
“By re-doing the schedule it will make the cuts more uniform across the board and hopefully will not result in guards being let go entirely, however I cannot guarantee this,” Kroll’s email read. “The schedule will be done by seniority (based on semesters worked at Meek, not student status).”
Meek will no longer be open from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. only on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the SCUBA class, and will now be closing at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closing at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. These changes have not yet been posted on the OWU website.
Sophomore Hannah Snapp is one of over 30 students affected by these changes. She said the university did not offer the guards who were cut any other work opportunities.
“Guards who lost all their hours were offered to stay on as substitutes,” she said. “Our entire staff had federal work study, according to my boss.”
Snapp was working an average of 10 hours a week for her work-study and has had her schedule reduced to five hours. She said this is a problem because she has not yet earned the work-study amount the university allocated her.
“Overall, our staff feels very forgotten, in a way,” Snapp said. “We have one of the largest staffs on campus, but we weren’t given a large enough budget or any real notice. I don’t think the school should be able to do this in the middle of the semester when it will be nearly impossible for students to find alternative work if they need it.”
According to Snapp, the federal work-study budget for the pool did not accurately reflect the realistic amount of lifeguards required to safely run the facility.
“(T)his is the school not treating its student employees fairly,” Snapp said. “We jump through a lot of hoops to work here to begin with from payments being months behind to the ridiculous system implemented to actually hire us.”
In addition to the cut in lifeguard hours, work studies for desk attendants in the Meek lobby and Edwards lobby have been eliminated entirely.
When asked to be interviewed about the cut in hours, Kroll and strength & conditioning coach and weight room supervisor Seth McGuffin did not respond to requests for comment.