Barnard Bartending Speaks Out Against Changes From Student Employment
Written by Ross Chapman
Bwog received an anonymous tip today about a petition which members of the Barnard Bartending Agency are releasing today. Over the last two months, Barnard College has worked to absorb the previously (ambiguously) independent BBA into the other programs overseen by Student Employment Services. BBA jobs could accordingly count as work study and receive support from the College. However, today’s letter alleges that many changes will undermine the purpose of BBA. Members of the group met with SES today, where these grievances were made known.
Most centrally, the five-page petition asks for the Barnard Bartending Agency to retain its… well, agency. Many responsibilities previously taken up by Student Managers will pass on to automated systems and professional mixologists, which BBA claims undermines its ability to meet its unique needs. “Barnard Bartending is not the same as “real” bartending.,” claims the letter. “In fact, many of our jobs are incredibly unique and the only proper method of preparation was to have that knowledge passed down through veteran Bartenders.”
Chief among changes made will be an automated assignment system (JobX) and an overhaul of the training course. The cost of training has gone dramatically down, from $120 to $25. The petition states that this change may bring under-prepared or under-committed students into the group, reducing levels of service. The courses will also be taught by professional bartenders, who the petition claims cannot meet all of the unique training needs required for the Barnard agents. The new job assignment system may also allow bartenders to compete against each other in the form of offering the lowest bid for a job. “Less experienced students are more likely to undercut their wages (cheating other students out of available work and fair wages unnecessarily) and not request cab fare home–a potentially dangerous situation.” Finally, status as work-study may prevent students who already have, or failed to qualify for, other work-study jobs to gain additional revenue from BBA.
The full petition is included below. Bwog has reached out to Student Employment Services for comment on the petition.
Update, 9/20/17, 8:30 pm: Earlier today, Student Employment Services Director Cynthia Meekins sent out a message to all of the Barnard Bartenders in response to this petition. This message asserted that the change to move the Barnard Babysitting and Bartending agencies into SES was “carefully considered for more than two years” and resulted from work with student managers. According to Meekins, the change is intended to increase student accessibility in the program, by decreasing bartenders’ fees from $120 for the course and $10 to $20 for each job to a one-time fee of $25. Meekins also wrote that application and hiring processes have been “streamlined”, for the Bartending agency as well as the Babysitting agency. You can read her full message below.
I am writing to confirm receipt of a petition delivered to my office on Monday, September 18, regarding bartending positions managed under the Barnard College Office of Student Employment Services.
I understand that change can be difficult, and I want to assure you that the Barnard College Office of Student Employment Services remains committed to providing quality job opportunities, including those for student bartenders and babysitters. Due to legal and tax concerns, the College determined that it was necessary to re-examine the existing relationship between Barnard and the two student-run enterprises of the Barnard Babysitting Agency and the Barnard Bartending Agency, and their student workers. This change was carefully considered for more than two years, and during this period, the Dean’s Office worked closely with student managers from the two Agencies to determine structures that would meet the needs of the students, as well as the needs of the College.
Ultimately, it was accessibility that led to the final decision to align babysitting and bartending jobs with all other part-time job opportunities offered through the Office of Student Employment Services. Accessibility is a central tenet of the Barnard mission, and the changes significantly decreased costs to students, granting greater access to even the most economically disadvantaged of Barnard students. In the past, the Barnard Bartending Agency charged $120 for their training course, $10-$20 per-job bartender fees, and a host of other related and mandatory fees. Now, Student Employment Services offers the bartending training course for $25, with no other required fees. Likewise, fees for returning babysitters have been completely eliminated.
Additionally, now that babysitting and bartending job opportunities align with all other part-time job opportunities offered through the Office of Student Employment Services, application and hiring processes have been greatly streamlined for students, as well as for employers.
Thank you for expressing your concerns regarding bartending jobs at Barnard College. I take all student concerns very seriously, and look forward to continuing to provide access to employment opportunities for all Barnard College students.