Julia Xia ’19
Smith has introduced a new form of on-campus employment for next year’s incoming students with federal work study. Eligible students can elect to become life skills tutors – they will teach wealthy classmates a variety of skills pertaining to daily life on campus, like how to bus their own dishes and change the toilet paper roll.
In previous years, first-year students have been limited to working in the dining halls or housekeeping. Thanks to this new option, the number of unsightly yellow rubber gloves and flimsy hairnets around campus will be greatly reduced, and students on work study will get the chance to network with their wealthy peers.
Students will be paid to gently remind their peers to toss chicken bones in the trash, not the compost bucket or the utensils bin. Students will be paid even more to enforce the Number One Rule of Breakfast – one must scrape noxious mixtures of scrambled eggs and ketchup thoroughly off the plate before placing it in the appropriate bin.
They will also facilitate weekly 15-minute sessions on how to change toilet paper rolls. (Major topics will include “What does that little button do?” and “Why is there a metal bit attached to the toilet paper holder by a string?”)
“I like the idea of a life skills tutoring program,” said Opti Myst ’18. “It can provide a really valuable bonding experience for first-years and reinforce the idea that we are all equals here. Like, maybe I have more money than you, but you still have important things to offer to the Smith community.”
While the student body’s response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive, Residential and Dining Services remain skeptical. They are concerned that if the on-campus skills program proves to be too popular, there will not be enough students left over to carry out traditional work study responsibilities. It is likely that most houses next year will not have a student housekeeper, placing additional pressure on the custodial staff members.
However, the majority of students living on campus look forward to Sunday mornings undisturbed by classmates rummaging through trash cans or wandering in and out of the bathroom stalls with spray bottles.
“The presence of student housekeepers can be uncomfortable,” remarked Ahna Nemous ’17. “Like, I’m trying to study in the living room, and one’s just hanging around my house. I usually try to pretend that no one is there, but then it gets weird if I see that person in class the next day.”
Most first-year students with federal work study are currently employed in dining halls.
Ev Rewon ’19, a first-year working in Cutter-Ziskind, expressed enthusiasm for the job. “I love my shifts here,” said Rewon. “The dish rooms are by far the most consistently diverse places on campus, unlike many classes and student organizations.”