Campus Life

How Coronavirus Impacts SMU Student Workers

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With the advent of Zoom classes, students leaving campus and the question of what exactly is happening in terms of reimbursements, the SMU community has been in a period of adjustment – especially for student workers. In light of potentially being hundreds or thousands of miles away from campus, bosses, and co-workers, students have been utilizing online communication in order to get the job done.

Kalena Dorgan, a Marketing and Communications intern within the Division of Student Affairs and a student worker under VP of Student Affairs, Dr. Mmeje, says things have transitioned fairly smoothly from campus to online.

“Just like class, my boss and I have Zoom conference calls,” Dorgan said. “Luckily, my job is pretty easy to transition to remotely and we are getting creative to produce content! A lot of our content is event based and now that many events are cancelled, it is important that we get creative to think of other things to post.”

For students working in labs and conducting research, Dedman College’s current ruling holds that no one may continue their work in the labs. This presents an obstacle to students who planned on starting new projects.

“I work in Dr. Son’s Organic Chemistry lab, where we work with polymers,” biology major Jamie Hall said. “My team had just barely started a brand new project that we’re working on together with some students and professors from Lyle and Cox. We’ve only just begun and we’re at such an exciting point where we’re coming up with all these possibilities, but my part is kind of at a standstill now, since no one is allowed in the lab.”

Popular opinion seems to be that much can still be achieved online, though being away from campus has presented challenges with progress and takes away from the in-person experience.

“I was planning on going to a research conference with a graduate student in our lab, but the in-person conference was cancelled,” said Jessica Elliot, who works in a biochemistry lab. “Although it has been moved to an online platform, it won’t be the same as experiencing it in person.”

Payment for student workers has also been a concern, as some may or may not be compensated depending on how future events surrounding the coronavirus and business and travel restrictions unfold.

“I’m also on work study and was going to make money over the summer in addition to [the lab] so it’s a cause of concern for me regarding paying future tuition and possibly attending grad school,” Hall said.

For others, payments have continued at their normal schedule.

“I was surprised that my boss for the VP Student Worker position is still paying me even though I’m not doing any work for the office,” Dorgan said. “I think it just shows how fortunate I am to attend and work at such a great university. My bosses have really gone above and beyond.”

In all, SMU student workers have proceeded with their jobs as much as possible in light of the new normal that has taken hold of this semester.

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