Letter to the Editor


While recognizing that Henry Dickmeyer’s Nov. 11 “Mind the cap: students need more work hours,” is an opinions piece, I feel it necessary to point out that he is basing his opinion on several assumptions on the purpose of on-campus employment. Occidental College does not make employment laws (or any laws for that matter). However, we do make policies and while these policies may seem “unfair” to an individual student there are sound reasons that they have been adopted for the community.

The primary purpose of work study programs is to provide part-time employment to help needy students pay for the cost of college. While work is often referred to as Federal Work Study, the percentage the federal government contributes has been decreasing nationally at an alarming rate. In 2004-05, Occidental had a $700,000 student payroll of which the federal government paid 56 percent. In 2013-14, Occidental had a $1 million student payroll of which the federal government paid 17 percent. The college makes up this difference. Occidental’s policy emphasis is on needy students and ensuring that those who are enrolled have their full demonstrated needs met (in a combination of grants, scholarships, student loans and work opportunities) to make it financially possible for them to enroll.

While we recognize that many students want jobs, the administration needs to prioritize who can receive the limited number of jobs available within the college’s fiscal framework. The student work policy meets several needs:

  • To provide jobs to help needy students meet their basic expenses.
  • To prevent students from spending more time working than participating in their residential and academic lives.
  • To have the financial resources to meet the student payroll.

Therefore, is it the policy of the college that work-award students have priority over non-needy students, that the hours per week are limited and that these two policies allow us to meet fiscal obligations.

There are no restrictions on student employment off-campus. A student can experience all the benefits of competing in the real-world job market, including negotiating pay, overtime, time-off to do research, to study for finals or return home during breaks (fall, winter, spring and summer).

The college has many needs to balance and cannot make policy without considering the effect it would have on our entire community. As Mr. Spock said, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Maureen McRae Goldberg

Director of Financial Aid


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