Sunday 18th February 2018,
The Transcript

Rescuing the rescuers: Finding a fair solution for the affected Meek lifeguard staff

By Taylor Smith
Copy Editor

I can truthfully say, I am not the only lifeguard upset with the recent changes that have occurred at the pool, and we’re not the only ones on campus have been affected.

On Friday, March 29, work-study students for the Edwards Weight and Conditioning room, the Meek Aquatic Center and Edwards Gym received an email regarding the issue of their work hours being cut and/or eliminated.

The desk attendant positions for the Meek and Edwards’ lobby were fully eliminated or “let go” effective April 1 and the hours for lifeguards and weight room staff had their hours cut back, as the hours of those facilities were also cut.

Rumor has it and several Meek and Edwards’ staff members have been told that cuts were being made because the school lacked resources (i.e. money) to continue operating the facilities as they had been.

Basically it cost the school more to pay us than it did to keep the facility open.

I know as a lifeguard we received a Google Doc to sign up for hours on the newly revised schedule and there was a mad rush to get hours. Hours were assigned based on seniority working at the pool, so only a few freshman lifeguards made the cut. There were even a few junior and sophomore lifeguards who just recently started working at the pool this year, so they didn’t make the cut either.

I have been fortunate to have been working as a lifeguard since I stepped foot on campus my freshman year three years ago, so I was not badly affected.

I did have my hours cut down from 12 hours a week to seven hours a week. Some were not as lucky. Some lifeguards went from working 10 or more hours a week to less than five hours a week.

The reason there is a shortage of money is because the new weight room desk attendants are paid out of the same budget the lifeguards and Meek and Edwards’s desk attendants are paid out of.

I am not aware how many total weight room attendants there are, but I have noticed when I go there are two to three attendants at a time. Most would say they don’t do much, and I do not know how much they’re paid per hour.

But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, for now, because I know, as a lifeguard, my position has been criticized for being easy, overpaid and not having to do much; then again, I am a trained and certified professional rescuer.

I can’t help it that there are not many people at the pool sometimes and I am being paid to do homework, though there are times where so much is going on we sit in the chair for most of the shift.

I feel as though the school can help how it pays the workers for two facilities. The weight room never had a single staff member on hand, let alone three. When the school renovated the weight room and created new positions—initially great for the students—the administration, Student Employment and the Athletic Department should have determined where they plan on getting money to pay these workers.

If they’re just going to combine budgets, there’s nothing wrong with that, but they should of at least made sure they had the money to pay the students to work the hours they originally signed up for and not force them to change it mid-module.

I know I’m not aware of all the details of this situation, which leaves me a little confused; but aren’t most work-study students paid through the federal government? Most federal work-study grants pay $1,500 to $2,500 a year.

Some feel it’s rare that students reach his or her limit, but some do, which is why there shouldn’t really be much of a budget issue.

If a student doesn’t earn his or her full federal work-study money, that’s the end of it—it cannot be held for the future and the school can’t use it for other reasons.

There are a lot of work-study students who rely on that money to help pay for their tuition, living expenses and other costs that arise (supply fees, parking permits, fraternity or sorority dues, etc.). For some it is spending money, but for many it is need.

The administration and the Athletic Department are—or should be—responsible for determining a budget and system that is reliable throughout the year and does not leave students jobless with a month of school left.

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