15-hour work week limits opportunities

Undergraduate students working a maximum of 15 hours a week is more a guideline than a rule. California Lutheran University students are familiar with the limit demand from Employment Services and the student Employment Office, however the offices are fairly lenient; and students want more.

If scheduling conflicts, major campus events or shift changes require a student to go over their allocated time cap, Employment Services will be sympathetic toward the situation. It is up to departments to manage their student workers.

Out of the approximate 5,000 undergraduate students on campus about 30 percent are employed, close to 800 students, leaving the university with plenty of need for both financial and labor force management on campus.

The main purpose of the 15 hour work week is to encourage students to prioritize academics and be employed to enhance the college experience, rather than make it a major focal point.

“We recognize that student employees are students first and we want to support students in their academic pursuits. We believe that the student employment experience should enhance the overall campus experience rather than be a primary focus,” Student Employment Manager Carol Lingrosso said in an email interview.

Cal Lutheran aims for moderate student work hours capped at about 10-12 hours per week. Lingrosso said students who work these designated hours per week are more likely to succeed academically than those who work more or do not work at all.

Beyond the student benefits, there are financial restrictions behind not allowing higher student work hours. An increase in the allowed work hours would mean less available work opportunities to other students, as funds designated to student workers would remain stagnant. Limiting work to less than part-time positions allow for the hiring of more employees.

“We believe that the 15 hour limit balances departmental budgetary consideration, number of available employment opportunities and the student employment experience,” Lingrosso said.

Media Services Coordinator Robert Munguia said he recognizes these rules and follows them to the best of his abilities. However sometimes restraints get in the way of work. When certain events or scheduling changes demand students go over their maximum hour cap, Munguia puts the work first.

“I’ll need a ton of help, but only very few people can help me,” Munguia said. “I kind of have a job to do.”

When it comes to demanding events such as Homecoming Weekend or New Student Orientation, both Employment Services and the payroll office will understand the situation. Unless something is seriously wrong, individual departments get to manage their employees however they decide.

“I’m not going to say no to the help,” Munguia said. “And Financial Aid will understand.”

Despite this rule’s placement, Munguia said he would prefer to see students work more. He would rather they be upped in hours to consider them officially part- time and not have to manage as many as 28 students.

“It would be better if most students worked 20 hours a week, and then just have a nice constant staff instead of trying to hire as many students as possible to fill in the hours,” Munguia said.

Dylan King who said he already understands how to balance his time between working and studying, said he wishes he could do more for the Cal Lutheran community that gave so much to him both in student life marketing and in the William Rolland Gallery.

“I believe that it’s limiting,” King said. “I have more time to give, but I can’t. I think that upper classmen should be allowed to work more than 15 hours a week.”

King also said student work hours should be more up to the students, not the Student Employment Office.

“If you have the time management skills, who is to say you don’t?” King said.

However, for freshman Media Services Technician Aubren Hickernell, the rule is fair. King said the rule is beneficial for transitioning first year students and Hickernell said she definitely sees the positives in the rule.

“I feel like I still have my down time, I still get to work,” Hickernell said. “I don’t feel like I’m overwhelmed with work.”

Like Lingrosso, Hickernell said she sees this rule as beneficial to the student body as a whole to keep employment on campus fair and balanced.

“If the rule wasn’t in place, kids would get a little overeager and have over 15 hours because they want to make money, obviously, investing their time more in their work and less in their education,” Hickernell said.

Mixed opinions remain about the 15 hour maximum work week employment schedule both from students and from on-campus employers. Situations will continue to find themselves in a state of flux.

Molly Strawn
Freelance Writer
Published October 21st, 2015