By Hannah Rinehart, Guest Columnist
I learned that last week was Student Worker Appreciation Week. I found out through Gettysburg College’s Instagram account, the morning after I was told I was out of a job.
I work for the mailroom on campus and have been since Spring 2021. As these two years have trickled by, I’ve seen the staffing of the mailroom diminish over time. There used to be four full-time workers in the mailroom, including Nick, the manager, in 2021. Now, in Spring 2023, there is only one part-time worker alongside Nick. So, other than the student workers, there’s just Nick, by himself, full-time. No one else to take phone calls, reroute packages or retrieve students’ mail. That’s a lot of work for one person, especially on the Monday-morning rushes of packages from over the weekend. This is too much for Nick to take on by himself.
Nick told us at the beginning of the year that he was anticipating their budget to hit its max from the hiring of several new employees (that we really needed), but he was also anticipating that the school would accept his request for a budget addition to accommodate for this. Instead, he was rejected. The mailroom was without help, and over a dozen student workers were without a job.
I didn’t realize my shift last Monday was going to be my final shift ever at the mailroom. As a senior, I have already been preparing to say goodbye to so much, but no longer needing to go to the mailroom and making money to help Nick and the other mailroom staff hurts. The welcoming, happy, and astoundingly encouraging work environment that Nick has curated for the student staff is unbeatable, I’m sure. I’ve lamented to him about my coursework or personal challenges I was facing, and Nick and my coworkers have been absolutely incredible at uplifting me and celebrating the tiny wins throughout our lives. I know my experiences aren’t abnormal because anyone who speaks with Nick knows his personality.
Nick’s campus-wide popular happy-go-lucky attitude can only take so much. I know that since the dozen or so of us workers cannot help him behind the window, the lines will get longer, and slower. But I also know how happy students are to talk to him, how students come to the window just for a quick chat with Nick. I know the student body will not see Nick at fault for these new issues. Nick’s great at his job, but he can’t do it all by himself.
So, as Gettysburg College celebrated Student Worker Appreciation Week, I ask where the appreciation was for the students who work in the mailroom? Who gets countless Amazon packages, personal letters and orders safely and securely to each student? Who helps out Nick, a quite literal campus celebrity and dedicated worker? Why are we suddenly left with no more payments? I’m on my way out, I can make do without these paychecks, but there might be underclassmen who were relying on that promised income.
It seems the college has money to spend—just take a look at the six or so new arcade machines in CUB that no one asked for. I heard a tour guide as they passed the mailroom express that they had never seen those before and that they must have been a new addition. No one even knew about those arcade machines being installed, and yet there they remain. How much did those cost? Probably more than whatever Nick had asked the school for to accommodate paying student workers $7.25 to $7.75 an hour for three more weeks.