Student workers keep SIUE running

During the last boil order, Starbucks continued operating with a limited menu, and the dining hall managed to serve students anyway. For that, we should thank our student employees. 


As of 2023, the university employs approximately 1,100 student workers in positions including service, sales, clerical and technical jobs. That’s a huge workload, and one that can be easy to take for granted. 


Even outside of circumstances like a boil order, student employees, particularly those in food service, deal with chaotic lunch rushes that tend to include loud, long lines. Many are international students and do not speak English as a first language. Nevertheless, they help us grab a meal or make a Starbucks run between classes, without which many of us would be lost. 


Yes, sometimes they mess up an order or the lines get longer than we would like. That can be frustrating in the moment, but given the loud music and crowds, perfection would be ridiculous to expect. Besides, if people weren’t willing to do these jobs, there would be no Starbucks or Auntie Anne’s orders to mess up. 


In our residence halls, resident assistants and desk managers help students with daily needs such as swiping in as well as more difficult personal issues that arise while living on campus. RAs sometimes have to handle roommate troubles, mental health emergencies and domestic disputes. Desk managers often work long hours so residents can return late at night. While they are paid an hourly wage and are compensated for room and board, these jobs can be incredibly taxing. 


Other student workers answer phones, work in the facilities management program or in the library. One thing they have in common is the extra time spent on campus. While other students get to go home or leave campus for work, student workers don’t have that kind of separation between work and school. Sure, this may be convenient, but we should recognize the contribution they make to our campus to keep things running smoothly. 


As journalists, we often report on novel events or recognizable names, since that’s what tends to make a story newsworthy. However, it’s important to remember that it’s the everyday operations that keep SIUE running. They may not make headlines, but they’re an essential part of the SIUE community. 


Our student workers balance their jobs with the typical stressors of college life. Let’s remember to be polite and patient with them. Greet them with a smile, stay off your phone while ordering, say please and most importantly, thank you.


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