Bowdoin Dining Service, usually one of the leading employers for on-campus students, has had to make changes to its hiring practices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these difference are reductions in hour availability, modified positions and new training procedures.
“We’re just having students work from 4:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., the dinner shift,” said Deborah Infante, dining staffing coordinator, in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
The College, along with multiple of its peer institutions, such as Amherst and Williams, has waived federal student work contributions in the face of these reductions.
The number of student employees has also dramatically decreased. In a typical year, Dining Service hires anywhere from 80 to 100 first-year students through the College’s First-year Job Placement Program. Currently, only 17 students are employed, five of whom are upperclassmen.
This change comes as schools throughout the NESCAC struggle to adapt to the public health crisis.
“COVID-19 restrictions and protocols are resulting in some departments, including Dining Service and Campus Safety and Security, not hiring student employees this semester,” said Janine Burt, manager of student employment at Williams College, in an email to the Orient.
The College’s FAQ page, updated over the summer, indicates that Bowdoin Dining Service did not anticipate being able to hire student employees this fall.
“Hearing there was a limited capacity for jobs really did frighten me,” said Foje-Geh Tendoh ’24, who is working in Dining Service this semester.
Dining Service has also had to adjust how student employees are deployed during their shift.
“We’re using our students mainly in … line serving or just wiping and sanitizing,” said Infante.
Gone, too, are conventional training and onboarding procedures.
“We are doing PowerPoints to send to the students to watch so they can get a feel for what is expected and how everything is ran, how we [are] doing everything and a COVID[-19] version of the student handbook with a healthy habits online class at the end to talk about the importance of washing their hands,” said Infante.
“It’s simple and effective,” said Tendoh of the new online training.
Despite these reductions and adjustments to the number of students employed, Infante says she has yet to turn down a student.
“We have been able to hire every student that was interested in working,” Infante wrote in an email to the Orient.