College students share how coronavirus has affected campus employment

Campus Reform talked to a few student correspondents who have lost their jobs because of the virus.

With colleges and universities around the country closing because of the coronavirus, many students have lost their jobs.

Like many Americans, college students across the country are facing employment uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Campus Reform spoke to students and campus correspondents who have temporarily lost their jobs because of the virus to find out how they have been affected. 

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Emily Kokot, a Montana Campus Correspondent who attends Rocky Mountain College, told Campus Reform that while she didn’t make a lot of money in her federal work-study job, the income went a long way in paying for her expenses. 

“The pay wasn’t great,” Kokot explained in an interview. “I didn’t get a whole lot of money from it. My last paycheck was about a hundred dollars, and as a poor college student that really does go a long way. That amount really helped pay for the cost of food.”

Kokot also explained how her job helped pay for her books each semester, which she explained were expensive and rarely used. 

“Last year...I took an economics class that required me to buy a book that was $250. And I used it once and couldn’t sell it back.”

Pennsylvania Campus Correspondent Mickey Mertz said she used income from her four jobs to pay for similar expenses. 

“A majority of my pay does go towards mainly food and traveling expenses,” Mertz told Campus Reform. “I had been commuting before Widener [University] shut down...I live about 30 min away from campus in New Jersey and actually you have to pay a toll to get into Pennsylvania, so I was paying for tolls. I was paying for gas and it was just a lot doing that everyday.”

Mertz told Campus Reform she is fortunate she was able to return home as she realizes many of her peers had no place to go after vacating campus. She encouraged her peers to remain positive and pursue job opportunities online during the virus. 

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“We are living in a virtual world anyway, without being in this coronavirus mess, so you really have got to dig for some opportunities,” she said. 

Ashley Stultz, a Florida Campus Correspondent, worked at a community pharmacy near campus and said she worked to “take a burden off my parents.” 

“I tried my best to fund as much of my own expenses as I could,” Stultz said. “Fortunately they’re able to pay for my rent but other than that, I pretty much use the money I make for food, for supplies, sort of to take a burden off my parents.”

Others, like Leonardo Mora, an international student from Venezuela who studies at Doane University, are facing more uncertainty because of immigration status. 

Mora told Campus Reform that as an international student, he is only allowed to work on-campus. With Doane closing campus because of the pandemic, Mora is now temporarily without work. 

“You have very limited options on where you can work,” Mora explained. “So most of the jobs you are offered are mostly reliable on the student body.”

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Mora explained that before the coronavirus, he worked three jobs on campus which included a position as a resident assistant, a job in the student affairs office, and a job on a student events team.  

“After the coronavirus, we got the notice, all RAs, that we were going to be laid off because we were not needed anymore throughout the semester,” Mora said. “From one day to another we didn’t have a job.”

The students also told Campus Reform that they hope others can see, despite other media characterizations, that there are college students who work their way through school.

“More students than you would think, they do try to work their whole way through college,” Kokot said. “They do try to get out of school with little to no loans as possible...this whole situation with the coronavirus has made it so frustrating.” 

“I am probably more fortunate than others...I just want to remind everyone that it will get better and we just need to keep working,” Mertz said. “We can’t just stop everything. I give a lot of credit to those who keep pushing forward and trying to find work during this hard time.”

Stultz added that there was more to work than just a paycheck. 

“Working a job is not only about the money, it’s also kind of a morale thing. Just keeping busy and I really enjoy my job and so it’s really hard for me to come home and not be able to do anything, my normal work, my normal schedule,” she said.

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