Sophomore tour guide Brad Walker speaking to his tour outside of Chubb Hall

Ohio University Student Workers Struggle with COVID-19

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ATHENS, Ohio — Ohio University students had heard for the past couple of weeks about the spread of COVID-19, not knowing that their lives would soon be affected in more ways than they could ever imagine. Then the colleges switched to online classes for the remainder of the semester, and when Governor Mike Dewine closed all bars and restaurants, many were jobless.

Like millions of Americans, they had lost their source of income to pay their bills and purchase necessities. So many wondered, especially those working in Ohio University’s dining halls, recreational center and other campus jobs, what would happen next?

Senior Joseph Hennessy not only saw his senior year cut short, but also lost his job at Ping Recreational Center – a job that helped him pay for his apartment at Palmer Place, off of Ohio University’s main campus.

“We didn’t hear a whole lot at first, so I was a little nervous,” Hennessy said. “So we waited, and once the universities got closed down officially, we got an email right away about our next step.”

Many student employment opportunities, like Ping Recreational Center, have come up with ways to keep paying their employees.

Hennessy would get the news that his job would switch to online work, which would consist of writing up better wording for their training documents so that Ping can more easily transition from one group of workers to the next. Other jobs would include writing new documents for bosses to use to try and retain employees in the future. Though he doesn’t really know what they will pay him yet, to have something is helpful enough.

“It is a minimum-wage job, there is not a whole lot that comes with it,” Hennessy said. “But it is enough to get you through and now that it is gone, it’s a struggle to buy groceries, even struggling to figure out what I need to buy and what I don’t need to buy.”

Many of the campus options for a job are employing the same strategy. Junior Jackson Hughes works as a tour guide and said the students are now conducting virtual tours for prospective students.

Then, the question arises of whether these new tasks could roll into job opportunities for the summer, as many internships have already been postponed or cancelled. Though that information has not been released yet, the re-tasked students think there is only so much online work they can do before the university runs out of options to pay them.

“I think (summer work) really just depends on the school,” Hennessy said.” Once the school says yea we are opening back up, then Ping and some of the other places will open up as well.”