As Ithaca College attempts to recover as a community and build a new standard of normal, it is evident we cannot make a complete return to how things were before the pandemic and before the faculty and staff cuts. The college is understaffed — a predicament seen across the entirety of Ithaca and even the United States. Despite its efforts, the college has not been able to hire a sufficient number of workers in many departments and offices, much to the detriment of current employees and the overall efficiency of day-to-day activities. The dining halls are a prime example of staffing issues — they have multiple openings available for student employees and for professionals that they have not been able to fill. While employees fulfill their duties well and get the work done, the college seems to still be adjusting to the post-pandemic state of the school. The college is at full capacity and the lines during lunch alone extend outside the Campus Center building. This must be overwhelming for all the staff members currently employed.
While student employees should attempt to fulfill their responsibilities in their entirety, one student employee shouldn’t feel obligated to never take a single shift off because their department can only rely on so few students. There should be enough employees so that certain responsibilities do not fall too heavily on one student or staff member, for the sake of their mental health and well-being. It isn’t a matter of if the work is being done, but rather how and what it takes to get it done. If hiring more staff members across the board means staff members will not be overstretched, then it’s something that needs to be done. After the college furloughed or laid off at least 264 staff members since March 2020, the college is now facing the consequences of being left shorthanded and unable to fill numerous positions.
The campus library has cut its hours for the Fall 2021 semester in comparison to the previous semester. This change is partially due to the lack of funds the library has, and therefore cannot afford to hire more staff members to keep the library open longer. This is a detriment to all students who need an environment to focus solely on their work. How is it that the library, which every student needs access to at one point, does not have adequate funds to remain open for its students? There needs to be some way funds can be allocated to such an important part of students’ academic lives.
A primary goal for the college should be to support and respect all staff, student employees and faculty currently working hard for the college and its community members. The college needs to assure that each member has a reasonable and manageable level of work and responsibility. Our staff members need to be supported and provided with the resources they need as the college attempts to return to pre-pandemic standards.