Student-Workers Say COVID-19 Harmed Their Income

Maria Barragan, Reporter

With a statewide stay-at-home order in place, many students working non-essential positions on the California Lutheran University campus, as well as nearby colleges and local retail stores, are struggling to maintain a steady income.

“I am completely unemployed, with no benefits and they won’t even tell me when I will be able to go back to work,” Moorpark College student Aby Garcia said. 

Garcia said losing her retail job in an event supply store has forced her to also ask peers for economic assistance. She fears that supplies for parties will not be on the list of priorities after stay-at-home orders cease.

Some student-workers at Cal Lutheran have benefitted from the university’s commitment to continue to provide work for those employed on campus. In a Zoom town hall on March 13, Cal Lutheran Vice President for Enrollment Management Matt Ward assured “students will be able to receive wages,” and said student-workers can appeal their inability to work because of social distancing.

Madison Robinson, a sophomore at Cal Lutheran, has been working for the SEEd Garden since September and describes herself as fortunate since she can still work.

Robinson said she and her colleagues can continue to conduct research at home as well as help tend to the SEEd Garden while maintaining social-distancing practices. 

Though Robinson remains employed, her hours have been significantly shortened. 

Robinson said she is grateful for the ability to dive deeper into her research while working from home, but  misses human interaction and is frustrated in the lack of knowledge of what will happen during the upcoming semester.

Garrett Iwamoto, a junior at Cal Lutheran, has been laid off from The Habit Burger Grill located on the Cal Lutheran campus.

He learned he was to be laid off only four days after starting his new position. Iwamoto said that management assured him he would be able to receive the same position when students and staff are cleared to return to campus. Iwamoto said he received a slip to apply for unemployment, but he is worried he did not make enough during his time in order to file for the benefits. 

“I personally understand,” Iwamoto said. [and]t “I [would] rather be home then be at work…getting other people sick.”

A list of resources available to Ventura County residents who have experienced layoffs and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the VC Emergency website.