Students who were laid off as a result of the university shutting down amid coronavirus concerns feel let down by lack of communication from employers

Numerous Azusa Pacific students were laid off after the university closed its campus and sent students home over COVID-19 concerns. 

While this measure was a necessary safety precaution, students were left disappointed from the lack of communication from their employers. 

“I expected Bon Appetit to email us or send a formal notice and they never did that and still haven’t done that,” said Graziella Jenson, a junior global studies major who worked as a supervisor at Paws & Go. “They kind of just let our bosses tell us we didn’t have jobs anymore. But that wasn’t communicated really well and things [haven’t been] really handled really well.”

Other student employees who worked in dining services and as chapel monitors reported similar experiences. 

The Office of Student Employment (OSE) wrote in an email that they are trying to help as many students as possible by offering them the flexibility to work remotely, if their duties permit. Others have been allowed to continue working on campus to assist with essential services, including Facilities Management and Campus Safety, which have experienced an increase in workloads and hours. 

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, almost 1,300 student workers were employed by the university. The office said they do not have an accurate count of how many students were laid off as a result of the campus shutdown. 

“We are still processing the data and do not have definitive numbers at this time,” said Stephanie Martin, assistant director of talent acquisition for the Office of Human Resources.

Mackie Lauzon, a junior global studies and sociology major who worked as a barista at Hillside Grounds, said her boss texted her on March 17 and said that dining services will close as of March 25.

“We didn’t get any email from dining services,” Lauzon said. “‘So our boss told us, and they didn’t say ‘oh, you’re laid off.’ It was just like, we’re shutting down.’” 

The first precautionary measures were announced via email on March 9, cancelling all student gatherings and chapels for the duration of the week. Three days later, President Ferguson announced to the student body over email that all classes will convert to an online format until the end of the semester and that campus housing and dining services would remain open. 

Next, Vice President for Student Affairs Shino Simons announced on March 17 that all university housing, residence halls and apartments would close. Only on the following day were student workers notified that all employees in nonessential roles are to continue working from home as of March 23. 

Like Jenson, Lauzon was disappointed that in the midst of chaos, the university did not provide workers with more information. 

As a result of the shutdown, the students’ plans for the rest of the school year were uprooted. 

“I was going to stay on campus and just work,” Jensen said. “Once I was aware they were kind of kicking everyone off campus and I couldn’t work [anymore], the only way for me to be financially stable and make sure I had food would be if I came home.”

Jensen wishes APU would have ripped the bandage off a little bit faster instead of dragging out announcements that led to the closure of campus over nine days.

While Sophia Lonac, a senior liberal studies major who worked at Hillside Grounds is also finding that she has to adjust a lot of her plans for the future such as going to graduate school, she remains optimistic. 

“I’m not starving. I’m not homeless. My family’s healthy,” Lonac said. “So I can’t complain too much just because I’m not really sure what the next year is going to look like for me.”

Martin said the OSE and Career Services will be working together to help student workers who will not return to their campus jobs to secure employment off campus.