Editorial: CWRU’s student employment system doesn’t treat students fairly

Editorial Board

Many students at Case Western Reserve University work jobs on campus, whether that be for federal work-study purposes or otherwise. However, the student employment system at CWRU is essentially inadequate, and most students are not paid enough. 

If you’ve ever had to use Human Capital Management (HCM), you know how difficult the entire payment system is. The website regularly does not work and can take multiple tries to get past the login page. Furthermore, if you want to access payment records or hours in between semesters, HCM will not let you log in unless you are actively working at CWRU. While that isn’t the biggest problem, it is still inconvenient—especially when it comes to checking and confirming payment records. However, navigating through the HCM website is just the beginning of student employment issues.

When a CWRU employer first hires a student, they have to fill out a hire form and other new hire documents and have it processed before they are able to start working on campus. However, after turning in those forms and verifying your identification in person, it takes weeks or even months to process. On average, the Office of Student Employment takes about a month to process those forms, but that’s an entire month when a student cannot work in their new place of employment. Additionally, if you have already worked on campus before, or are being rehired for the year, it still takes at least a month for that simplified form to be processed. By taking an incredibly long time to complete the hiring process, the Office of Student Employment hinders students from getting paid sooner.

Furthermore, the HCM payment schedule and system is inadequate. It takes a long time before your hours are actually sent to payroll after your hiring process is approved. Therefore, you can have weeks of supervisor-approved hours not sent to payroll. And that’s without any egregious error on their part—there are instances where students are not paid for a majority of the semester, and their supervisor has to remind HCM that their student needs payment. When student employees do get paid, they get paid at the midpoint and the last day of the month—which in and of itself is fine since biweekly payments are not abnormal for jobs. However, approved hours sent to payroll are cut off around 12 or 13 days before the next payment date. So for instance, the next payroll date is on Nov. 30, but the approval cutoff date is on Nov. 17, which is almost two weeks before the actual payment. Essentially, hours are backlogged, meaning many students are not getting enough or timely payment on each pay date. If there is such a large gap between approved hours being sent to payroll and the pay date, then students should be getting paid on a weekly basis to offset that gap. In addition, if CWRU is not capable of giving payments on a weekly basis, then the cutoff date for approved hours submission to payroll should be closer to the actual payment date. Students rely on their on-campus jobs for groceries, rent, financial aid and much more—a problematic payment system for CWRU’s on-campus jobs makes it so that students cannot depend on their work for their basic necessities.

While the university’s payment system is flawed, the amount students are getting paid is even more concerning. Ohio’s current minimum wage is $9.30 per hour—or $4.65 per hour for tipped employees. According to CWRU’s Student Employment Handbook, undergraduate wages start at $9.20 and can go up to $13.90. For graduate wages, the range is $10.45 to $18.30. While federally a $15 minimum wage has not been passed, Ohio’s minimum wage is not a living wage. CWRU should not be following Ohio’s minimum wage standards.

It’s clear that the Office of Student Employment does not have the resources to process everything in a timely manner, which negatively impacts students. However, that’s not necessarily the fault of the office, as CWRU has been known to have staffing shortages across their administrative departments. There are several areas CWRU can dedicate more resources and funds to, but student employment is definitely one that deserves high priority. Our wellbeing at this university depends on it.