Pandemic restrictions impact student employees of the MSU
Two weeks before the McMaster Students Union closed the Grind Café for the rest of 2020, employees were unaware of the impending closure.
Located in the McMaster University Student Centre, The Grind had been operating on a reduced schedule and with reduced staff due to COVID-19 restrictions and the resulting lack of population on campus. In an email statement on Oct. 30, MSU Vice-President (Finance) Jess Anderson cited low foot traffic on campus and low usage at the Grind as the reason for the closure.
“During this time of transition, the MSU is committed to providing financial assistance to affected staff members, above and beyond the minimum standards defined by the Employment Standards Act. In addition, the MSU has provided guidance to staff in understanding and accessing available government programs related to COVID-19 support,” wrote Anderson.
However, it is unclear what the financial assistance entails.
Micaela Rayment, a full-time student and two-year Grind employee, had been working once per week at the Grind. Rayment, along with other employees, was working three hours per week.
Rayment began work as a teaching assistant at McMaster this semester and cited her reduction in Grind hours as the reason for an additional job.
“I had more hours last year, so I didn’t have to have two jobs, right?” Rayment said,
The teaching assistant position is only for the fall term and Rayment said that she’ll have to find another job for the winter term.
“I think it’ll probably be difficult. Especially since I’m in my final year and so I’ll be entering into a job, only to leave it after graduating [and getting] into a job in my field. I won’t be able to be too picky, but I know people who are trying to look for jobs right now and they’re just not hearing anything back from anyone. So I don’t know, not excited for that, if that’s what has to happen,” added Rayment.
On Oct. 19, Rayment discussed her reduced hours but was unaware that the Grind would soon close. Rayment said that her supervisors had been upfront about reducing hours and had not heard anything about the Grind closing.
An employee of the Grind and TwelvEighty Bar & Grill, who requested anonymity due to conerns over job security, said on Oct. 19 that they believed the Grind would be closing shortly. Though they could not confirm with certainty, they said that they were led to believe that the MSU was looking to either further cut down or completely close the Grind café.
On Oct. 28, both Micaela and the source confirmed that the Grind would be closing on Nov. 2 indefinitely.
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The MSU has responded to pandemic restrictions and has created savings across the organization for students. The MSU organizational fee has been reduced, as well as a reduction in paid student employees.
Debbie Good, full-time manager of Compass Information Centre, explained that Compass normally employs 11 students in part-time positions during the year. Compass has been closed since the pandemic began and has been unable to re-employ any of the 11 students.