Return to campus brings hiring troubles to Student Life

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The Center of Social Justice stands on the west side of UNLV campus. Photo taken by Isaac Garcia.

With UNLV’s return to in-person learning, Student Life offices face understaffing, but they are confident that students will not see a difference in campus programming. 

The problem of too many open positions, too few applicants has been prevalent across the US, according to CNBC. Those national issues do not exclude UNLV campus.

According to Associate Vice President of Student Life Renee Watson, 20 departments are searching for employees in Student Life alone. Student Life covers departments such as Student Union & Event Services, Student Recreation & Wellness Center, Student Involvement & Activities and Service Learning & Leadership and Social Diversity and Social Justice, to name a few. 

From directors to student staff, many offices have gone from remote work to in-person while many other offices wait to be filled. Part of the reason for the deficit is the hiring freeze that was implemented state-wide in April 2020 and was lifted in March of this year.

One of the hardest-hit departments is the Social Diversity and Social Justice department, an essential department to UNLV, seeing as the university ranks as one of the most diverse campuses in the country. The department has recently had a high turnover rate, leaving the department with allegedly three staff members.

UNLV’s Assistant Vice President for Student Life, Richard Clark said that remote work was too enticing for some. 

“Like many folks across the country, some UNLV staff saw this as an opportunity to re-evaluate what they wanted professionally, and some chose to look for remote work,” Clark said.

Clark has been in the position for three months after working for the university for 17 years. He gained the Vice President of Student Life position after his predecessor, Vice President for Student Affairs and Interim Chief Diversity Officer, Juanita Fain.

Currently, UNLV is conducting a national search to fill the openings in Student Life and are taking applications in various offices for student workers. While the hiring process takes place, those already hired are doing the job of multiple people.

“We understand our present staffing levels will add to staff workload and stress,” Clark said. “Supervisors are very aware of this and are taking measures to assist staff with self-care and, in some circumstances, additional short-term compensation for added work duties.”

Clark addresses the concern of the high turnover rate and possible concerns of programs and events by assuring the UNLV community that there will be a little interruption to the events students and faculty enjoy seeing on campus. The university has made a large effort to balance the need for safety and pre-pandemic life. 

“SDSJ saw an increase in program offerings but a decrease in offered trainings,” Interim Director of the SDSJ Leslie Doyle said. “Some programs had lower attendance, which may be attributed to Zoom fatigue.”

UNLV has been balancing student safety and normal pre-pandemic events in great observance leaving students with a 60 percent in-person to 40 percent remote learning class option, according to an email by the university. 
“Attendees communicated that the efforts around student engagement were much appreciated as a necessary distraction from the chaos and periods of isolation that were felt over the last 18 months,” Doyle said. “Moving forward, SDSJ will prioritize main events from identity and heritage months to student-facing education and outreach trainings and workshops.”

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