NEWS

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May 1, 2009

Housing and Dining office to eliminate jobs, hours in latest cuts

The University announced Tuesday that it will cut the Housing and Dining Services budget by 10 percent as part of a larger series of cuts to the University’s budget.

The cuts, effective July 1, will eliminate several clerical positions within housing staff and three desk clerk shifts at Max Palevsky East and West, reduce hours for all housekeepers and engineers, and cut money available for Hall Councils. Workers will not lose their benefits as a result of the decrease in hours.

Computer systems will replace much of the eliminated labor, Deputy Dean of Students for Housing and Dining Cheryl Gutman said. The Housing office will replace one or two of its clerical workers with an electronic payroll system and will reintroduce a package notification system.

“The quality of life will not feel all that different,” Gutman said.

The 7 a.m.–3 p.m. shifts at the Max Palevsky East and West front desks have been cut. Unlike the front desk in Max Palevsky Central, these desks do not process mail, which Gutman said is one of the main functions of the desk clerks. Other duties, like distributing vacuum cleaners, will be consolidated to Max Palevsky Central.

Plans for staffing the South Campus Dormitory will not be affected by the cuts.

Despite cutting five hours from some workers’ schedules, Gutman said there will be “no change to the status of their benefits.” She added that the unions representing the workers were notified of the cuts and expressed concerns over the reductions in hours and jobs.

“We do have deep respect for everyone who works in the house system,” Gutman said.

Funding available for nonessential capital repair and replacement, which includes replacing furniture, replacing carpets, and repainting and repairing walls, will be reduced as well, meaning that maintenance will be undertaken less often.

“[Painting rooms] is a major expense for us from summer to summer,” Gutman said. “The same thing with replacing carpet. We may, instead of buying new carpet and paying to have it installed, we may...clean over it and make sure it’s sanitary.”

She added: “We do have an end of year process whereby we charge people for destroying things.”

Further cuts will come from Hall Council funding, which will be reduced by 25 percent. “They will have less money. The number of events they have and how they spend their money is up to their creative abilities,” Gutman said.

Because most dining services are outsourced to Aramark, a private firm, dining will not be affected by the cuts.

Gutman said the house system benefited from the fact that “people really care about where they live,” and she included building staff, as well as the buildings themselves, as a part of that environment.

“We know that our students are very close to those people who work in the buildings,” she said. “I appreciate the concern that students have for the welfare of the folks that work in the building.”

University spokesman Steve Kloehn said the attitude of the administration is that,“across the University, if people can live up to the reductions that they’ve pledged that they’ve committed to at this point, we should be in good shape going into the next year. Nobody can predict the overall climate, but there is a feeling of confidence that this round of budget cuts addresses the current situation.”