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AJ’s Cafe, where Hills­dalians can get their favorite snacks. Courtesy | Regan Meyer

As the number of stu­dents in quar­antine and contact iso­lation has risen, campus employment has had to adapt to function with fewer student employees. 

The most obvious sign of the growing stress COVID-19 has placed on student employment is AJ’s cafe reduced hours. Due to the increasing number of student employees in quar­antine, the cafe now closes at 7:30 p.m. on the weekdays instead of mid­night. 

As of last Thursday, A.J.’s had 18 student employees in quar­antine, including student manager Michaela Frohnen. 

“With this last batch, I went into quar­antine, as well as the other stu­dents who work nights reg­u­larly,” Frohnen said. “So Bon Appetit made the decision to shorten the hours of the cafe until we get back.”

Student employment at the contact center has also decreased as a result of the spike in COVID-19 cases on campus. Of its 64 student employees, about one-third are cur­rently in contact iso­lation.  

 “Nor­mally, we have people call in dropping shifts because they haven’t been feeling well or because they have to study for a test,” said Eliz­abeth Turner, assistant director of the contact center. “But recently, we’ve had shifts down to one or two or three agents, which is not normal.” 

According to Turner, stress-levels are at an all-time high because adult staff and student leaders have begun taking more calls, which means that super­visors aren’t always available when student employees need help trou­bleshooting a caller’s problem. . 

Although the admis­sions department has had up to 12 student ambas­sadors in contact iso­lation at once, prospective student tours still function as reg­u­larly scheduled.   

“We’ve been able to nav­igate it well,” said Zachary Miller, senior director of admis­sions. “We’ve had to make last minute adjust­ments to stu­dents cov­ering dif­ferent tours, but we haven’t had to make big changes to vis­itors schedules.” 

Miller attributes the admis­sions depart­ment’s success in the face of  COVID-19 to the department’s flex­i­bility with the number of hours student ambas­sadors work and the number of student ambas­sadors needed on any given day.  

According to Miller, the only change the admission department has made is tem­porarily can­celing overnight dorm visits. Extra dorm rooms are kept empty in case they are needed for stu­dents who are contact iso­lated. 

“Hillsdale is bucking the trend, so to speak,” Miller said. “We are really one of the only schools we know of to host guests in the tra­di­tional sense. Most other schools, if they are having vis­itors, are abbre­vi­ating their stays, but we still want to give the full Hillsdale expe­rience.” 

Man­agement at both A.J.’s and the contact center stressed how flexible stu­dents have been adjusting to the chal­lenges of the past few weeks. Despite the extra stress, stu­dents at both estab­lish­ments have been more than willing to cover the shifts dropped by col­leagues in quar­antine. 

According to Fronhen, some stu­dents are now working 20-hour weeks. Turner con­curred.  

“All of our agents are so won­derful, they’ve all been so willing to pick up extra shifts,” she said. “Today we had no one scheduled from our 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.  shift and one student who was taking the week off for non-COVID related reasons still vol­un­teered to come in.”