Donning face masks as part of their new uniforms, students with on-campus jobs returned to work this semester hoping to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. With new health and safety protocols on campus, some student workers view safety as more than possible.
Campus locations like Alkek Library, which employs a large number of student workers, implemented numerous changes this fall, such as installing glass partitions and implementing a UV sanitation light for library materials.
Britain Stibora, an acting junior, says Alkek is doing its best to keep students safe. He has seen that, for the most part, employees and students follow the new procedures. Despite this, he goes into work at Alkek feeling unsafe.
“You can’t control every possibility,” Stibora said. “I mean, I’m very thankful for all of the things they have put in place, but there’s still a lot of stuff that’s out of your control. It’s just the risk of being out with people.”
Lexie Taylor, an international studies senior, agreed that Alkek is putting the health and safety of staff and students first. Taylor returned to her job at Alkek in March, witnessed the library’s changes firsthand and says she feels safe.
“Since I’ve been here since it all started, I’ve seen how the library is trying to adapt,” Taylor said. “I’m not the biggest fan of change, but I’m rolling with the punches.”
On the other hand, Javaun Butler, an acting junior, was more than ready for the change of scenery the fall semester provides.
“If I had a choice, I’d be [on campus] all the time,” Butler said.
Butler has worked in the Honors College Coffee Forum for a few years, and after a summer off, he was eager to return to work, though he had no idea what to expect from the new campus environment. He trusts the university is making strides to keep himself and his coworkers safe, but he worries individuals might not comply with the new safety protocols.
“In theory, I think the new precautions are great. In practice, I’m really worried there will be some resistance [with] people not abiding by the guidelines; that’s my only concern,” Butler said.
Ansley Haman, an English junior, held similar concerns. As a resident assistant at Laurel Hall, she experienced a big change not only in the workplace but in her living space as well. Although she is glad to be back on campus, she feels uncertainty.
“I’m taking my own precautions, however, I don’t feel completely safe,” Haman said. “Even though I can control what I do, I can’t control what other people do.”
Across the sidewalk at Retama Hall, resident assistant Jenny Stewart, a performance and production junior, also felt a little anxious returning to campus, unsure of how other students would respond to the new precautions.
Stewart is a big believer in social distancing and says the mandate for students to wear masks, along with the addition of glass partitions between residents and front desk staff, has helped her feel more at ease.
However, Stewart says she is unsure of what to expect this fall. With all of her classes this semester online, it was not necessary for her to return to campus. Stewart says she wanted to come back.
“Being an RA has changed me and helped me find my place here on campus,” Stewart said.
Across campus at the Student Recreation Center, Texas State also enforced changes, such as closing down courts, pausing team sports activities and moving weight room equipment machines 6 feet apart from one another. Students must also sign up for 45-minute time slots to use the facility.
For student workers like Bryanna Bueno, a biology junior, this means she and her coworkers must disinfect and wipe down equipment every hour, in-between reserved time slots. Despite holding one of the most hands-on jobs on campus, Bueno says she feels safe.
“I worked out at a gym all summer, and honestly, we’re so much [cleaner] and spaced out here than anywhere else I’ve been,” Bueno said.