Saturday, November 28, 2020

Spartan Solidarity Network releases list of demands regarding RHS student worker furloughs

September 30, 2020
<p>Courtesy photo of a banner displaying the words &quot;protect student workers&quot; on campus Thursday, Sept. 24, provided by the Spartan Solidarity Network.</p>

Courtesy photo of a banner displaying the words "protect student workers" on campus Thursday, Sept. 24, provided by the Spartan Solidarity Network.

With the furlough of over 700 student workers, including some that are dependent on the wage, the Spartan Solidarity Network is acting in support of students that they say were misled and used.

Early Tuesday, the Spartan Solidarity Network, or SSN, released a petition collecting support signatures for a list of demands that includes hiring back all furloughed student workers, reimbursing lost wages and providing financial aid from funds diverted from the university public safety budget.

The list includes the following eight demands:

  1. MSU must hire back all furloughed student workers.
  2. Provide at least one month of direct financial aid to cover the costs of furloughed students in off-campus housing.
  3. RHS must come up with a mitigation plan to help furloughed student workers with the immediate impacts of this decision on their livelihoods. This is defined as:
    A. Direct monetary aid to assist financial burdens that may be incurred as a result of their lost income.
    B. Legal assistance in navigating applications for unemployment, negotiating their lease payments if they
    have off-campus housing, and other avenues to secure their future security in light of this decision.
    C. Free counseling to support the emotional health of recently furloughed RHS student workers.
  4. Future RHS budgets must be made more accessible to RHS student workers.
  5. RHS must provide a more detailed explanation as to how the September 22nd decision was made.
  6. Future RHS student workers must have representation during all RHS meetings and voting power during all budgetary decisions. ("Representation" is defined as at least 1 domestic student worker and 1 international student worker voted on by all RHS student workers.)
  7. All RHS student workers must be notified within 24 hours of all major budgetary decisions at the same time.
  8. Divert funds from the MSU Public Safety budget to provide for the cost of direct financial aid.

According to an email from RHS Chief Communications Officer Kat Cooper, one reason for the furlough was the lack of work available. Multiple students refuted that statement, saying their workload had increased.

One furloughed student worker, Bailey Butash, said she was constantly being pulled to do work outside of her job description. Butash directly contradicted Cooper's statement.

"I would say there was more than enough work to do," Butash said. "We've been getting election mail every single day that we have to go through; we've been moving packages; we've been helping students. I think that was one of the things that pissed me off the most was that there was no work because at the end of the day, there are still students living in the dorms, there are still students that need us to do the desk work and we had no shortage of work."

On Friday, SSN held a listening session for the furloughed workers. On the Zoom call, several students shared their thoughts about the university's action.

Aagosh Chaudhary, a furloughed international student, said his living situation has changed dramatically due to the furlough. International students are given a maximum of 19 hours every week, which equates to about $700 per month on his wage.

"I had to find a place that was less than that, and that's not including my utilities and my groceries," Chaudhary said. "My plan was to work as many hours as I possibly could while attending online school and pay for my rent and my food and my groceries. Now that they announced this, I don't have a job like everyone else. The special thing about international students is we can't work off-campus."

SSN plans to attend MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam's live Q&A at 7 p.m. on Sept. 30 to share stories and ask Mosallam to support their petition.

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