Work study program understaffed, could be cut further

Madison Fantozzi/Asst. News Director

As the largest employer at FIU, University Libraries is experiencing the fullest effect of cuts in the work-study program.

While the libraries seek to recruit student workers and volunteers, according to a press release from the White House, the March 1 sequester will result in around 1,700 fewer Florida students eligible for work-study.

According to Thomas Breslin, interim dean of libraries, the libraries are currently understaffed by 40 students and hours have been cut in half. This reality has left library shelves unread and books unaccounted for.

According to Library Circulation supervisor Genevieve Diamond, students are divided among the shelves and assigned to read them. There is not enough money to pay the amount of students needed to get this job done, however.

“Work-study funds are so scarce,” Breslin said. “The number of students working and the number of hours being worked are low.”

Modesto Maidique Campus’ Green Library houses eight floors of library materials and Biscayne Bay Campus’ Hubert Library has three floors. Breslin said there are over one million books in the Green Library alone.

However, there are currently a 80 to 140 students working on-and-off at both libraries.

Diamond said she encourages undergraduate students to voluntarily work for the library.

Although Breslin and Diamond stressed to Student Media the libraries’ need for student employees and volunteers, its strife may only worsen due to the sequester.

Not only will the sequester lessen the amount of students in work-study, but it will also leave around 6,250 fewer students with financial aid.

Last year, financial aid and the work-study program faced a similar crisis. The University responded to cuts by doing a cut of its own — cutting the hours of students in the work-study program.

The protest of struggling students led the University to construct a new plan.

In an interview with Student Media, director of Financial Aid Francisco Valines said the University asked the departments to match 18 percent of the work-study amount.

The solution was implemented for fall 2011 and spring 2012.

The effects of the sequester on departments and the response of the University to work-study cuts for future academic years are yet to be determined.