Southeast Missouri State University student publication

State funding cut halts pay for student employees; graduation postponement date announced in SEAlert

Thursday, April 9, 2020
Graphic by Ally Bruemmer

In a letter delivered by SEAlert to the university community, Southeast President Carlos Vargas announced restrictions to student employee pay, graduation postponement dates and the cancellation of all university events through June 30.

Spring and Summer 2020 graduates have the opportunity to walk at a ceremony alongside Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 graduates. Those dates are Dec. 19 and May 15, 2021, respectively.

Senior secondary education major Olivia Simpson said this brings her college career to a short and abrupt ending.

“It's just gonna be really hard not to be able to have that closure with your friends and the important professors and people out on campus that really made a difference in our lives. It's gonna be really hard to overcome that,” Simpson said.

Simpson plans to attend the ceremony in December but said she understands why many of her peers won’t attend after they move away from Cape Girardeau.

Effective April 20, all non-work study students or students not physically working on campus will not be paid through the end of the semester, according to the SEAlert. Work-study eligible students will continue to be paid for their scheduled or expected hours until federal work-study funds, which are non-university funds, are gone.

Southeast senior Christi Hartung believes the decision was fair and thought the university was very generous to student workers up to this point.

“I think it was a reasonable decision, honestly. The university is still giving students plenty of time and resources to find another job,” Hartung said.

Junior Nicholas Mulholland, a student consultant in the Heather MacDonald Multimedia Center in Kent Library, said the situation is unfortunate and will affect him financially.

“It's very understandable, and I can't imagine a scenario where they can both give everyone refunds for housing and classes and also pay all student workers for not working [on campus],” Mulholland said.

This decision to halt student employee pay comes after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced a $61.3 million funding restriction to higher education. This resulted in a $3.7 million withholding from Southeast’s state funding.

The university needs to replace these funds, and Vargas said the Executive Staff will be discussing ways to do so.

“Due to growing budgetary challenges and in consideration of our need to extend telework arrangements through May 17, it unfortunately becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the level of funding for student worker positions at this time,” Vargas said.

This decision comes just three weeks after student workers were notified they were not required to report to work, but would still be paid through April 19 for hours they were scheduled.

Spring courses are not the only courses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vargas stated any summer course with a beginning date prior to June 29 will be delivered online or remotely.

Employees teleworking from home were previously instructed to report back to campus April 20. After Parson and U.S. President Donald Trump issued social distancing and stay-at-home orders, Vargas extended the employee telework period through the end of the spring semester. Employees are expected to return to campus Monday, May 18.

In response to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act being signed into legislation on March 27, Vargas announced the university’s COVID-19 Leave Guidelines for Employees is discontinued, and the FFCRA guidance will replace it.