Chronic understaffing at the Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Residence Hall Office has created conditions that have led to overworked staffers and violations of university rules.
Many student employees worked more than 20 hours per week and worked shifts alone, which violates university rules, according to an email from RHO employees to administrators obtained by The Hoya.
Julia Lo (MSB ’21) sent an email, signed by Arrupe RHO staff members, to university administrators Sept. 22 demanding a solution despite previously having expressed concerns to their direct supervisor.
Arrupe RHO employees sent the message to Residential Services Coordinator Jessica Scibetti, Residential Education Executive Director Ed Gilhool, Director of Residential Services Bill Huff, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Stephanie Lynch, Assistant Director for Assignments Krista Haxton and the Student Employment Office.
Currently, the Arrupe RHO has 12 staff members, making it the least-staffed RHO despite receiving the most packages.
“The past month’s package statistics have shown that we have received a total of 23,695 packages across campus with Arrupe RHO processing 6,355 while East Campus, Kennedy, New South, and VCW have received 3,599, 4,367, 4,200, and 5,173, respectively,” according to the students’ email.
The email included complaints about excessive working hours, long lines of students waiting to receive packages and frustrations with Office of Residential Living administrators.
“It is quite demoralizing to arrive at work to a line of impatient customers who claim we work too slowly,” the students wrote. “The hours we are asked to work in order to have a semi-filled schedule are absolutely ridiculous and the way our concerns have been dismissed is unacceptable.”
Lexi Tiemann (SFS ’21), Maya Hambrick (COL ’22), Caroline Hyer (SFS ’20), Gabriela Gura (COL ’21), Caroline Connor (COL ’20), Cassidy Pregil (COL ’20), Allan Navarro (SFS ’22), Arrey Salyards (NHS ’20), Alexis Stapleton (COL ’20), Claudia Canales (MSB ’22), Cassidy Palmer (COL ’21), Cailin Brady (COL ’20) and Lo signed the email.
(Full disclosure: Navarro serves as co-senior editor of The Guide, The Hoya’s arts and culture section.)
Changes in hiring procedures and unexpected rejections of job offers caused delays in hiring new staff members, according to Huff. In spring 2019, Residential Living took on most of the responsibility of screening and selecting applicants. Previously, RHO managers led the hiring process.
The updated procedures and consequently slower process led to the Arrupe RHO to begin the year with only 11 staff members and two managers, compared to the typical 18 to 22 staff members, according to Brady, the Arrupe RHO manager. Staff members and managers have separate responsibilities, and staff members assist with sorting and distributing students’ packages.
A 12th staff member began working at the Arrupe RHO this week, despite being hired at the beginning of the semester, according to Navarro.
“This year there’s a new process going on with the hiring and different committees and how the applications are being evaluated,” Brady said. “The applications have been moving through the process much more slowly.”
The reduced workforce has forced more than half of the RHO staff members to work over 20 hours per week, interfering with employees’ responsibilities, and negatively impacted the RHO’s package processing efficiency, according to an Arrupe RHO employee who requested to remain anonymous for fear of employer retribution.
The SEO recommends that students not work more than 20 hours a week during the academic year.
“I worked 23½ hours two weeks ago, and I just don’t have time for that. It’s getting to the point where Cailin [Brady, Arrupe RHO student manager] can’t keep putting people into the schedule because they have other jobs, they have papers, they have class,” the employee said in an interview with The Hoya. “Some people are single-staffed at the RHO and when you have like four carts, that’s 300 packages coming in and a line of students in from Darnall.”
When Huff received the students’ email, it was the first time he was contacted about any scheduling issues, he wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“While I was aware the Arrupe RHO team has several vacancies, I first heard from team members about the negative impact scheduling was having on their work experience via an email on Sep. 22,” Huff wrote.
Employees began vocalizing complaints at the beginning of the academic year and reached out to Scibetti, according to Brady and the anonymous Arrupe RHO employee. Scibetti is the direct supervisor of RHO student employees.
“I think we started directly tagging Jessica in our GroupMe like two or three weeks ago, like ‘When are we going to start getting more new hires, we have other things we need to be doing,’ and she was like, ‘We’re working on it. Bill is hiring people,’” the Arrupe RHO employee said.
When contacted for comment, Scibetti referred inquiries to Huff.
Huff met with the student who sent the original email, as well as one of the Arrupe RHO managers, the day he received the message, Huff wrote in an email to The Hoya. Huff also informed the RHO staff members that offers to fill the vacant positions in all RHOs were sent to applicants on Sept. 24.
“They shared their experiences and I shared updates on current hiring process,” Huff wrote. “I offered to reach out to other RHO Assistants in Arrupe but the concerned team member who emailed me and the RHO Manager stated they would pass along the updates.”
The staffing issues are not isolated to the Arrupe RHO, according to a Kennedy Hall RHO employee who requested to remain anonymous for fear of employer retribution.
“It’s something we’ve been dealing with across campus this semester,” the Kennedy RHO employee in an interview with The Hoya. “Arrupe just happens to be the hardest hit with it.”
The RHO is not the only campus office struggling with filling positions. A lack of university communication and inconsistent shift times this semester led to frequently unmanned student guard posts.
Delayed RHO hiring could be caused in part by a new video application component, according to the Kennedy RHO employee.
Students who applied to work in any RHO had to submit a video component as a part of the new hiring process, as opposed to holding face-to-face interviews, according to the RHO application. However, the application incorrectly stated that students should put their video as “unlisted” rather than “private” on YouTube. This error has since been corrected. Students who set their videos as unlisted, however, were at a hiring disadvantage when their videos were unviewable by the hiring committee.
“The video portion represented 33% of the total score for each applicant, so those whose videos were unviewable were at a severe disadvantage,” the Kennedy RHO employee wrote in a message to The Hoya.
To the employees knowledge, candidates who used unlisted videos were not contacted to correct the error.
All RHO managers have weekly meetings with Scibetti, their direct supervisor, according to the Kennedy RHO employee. Like staff in Arrupe, the Kennedy RHO employee conveyed their concerns without receiving immediate solutions.
“It’s been one of those things they’ve said they’ve been dealing with and they haven’t been,” the Kennedy RHO employee said.
This article has been updated to reflect that Gabiela Gura’s last name is Gura, not Cura.