Previous issues at other UCs should have been a warning — apologies won’t cut it now
The California Aggie’s Editorial Board was clear when it voiced its vehement disappointment with the university’s implementation of UCPath. The importance of paying employees, especially student employees, accurately and on-time cannot be understated.
As more time passes, our previous assertion that “the implementation of UCPath at UC Davis has been nothing short of an utter nightmare” continues to prove true. More and more students continue to come forward, and yesterday, student employees at the CoHo even staged a walk-out in protest of the botched rollout of this obviously flawed payroll system. The Editorial Board expresses its solidarity with those who courageously left their positions on Thursday to protest the university’s handling of UCPath. As issues continue to arise, Chancellor Gary S. May’s statement to the Editorial Board that “I think that the October 1 switchover was pretty smooth,” shows the lack of understanding that the administration has regarding students’ experiences with UCPath.
After yesterday’s walkout, UC Davis released a new statement, saying, “We are dismayed that some of our student employees have not received their pay in a timely manner and agree this is unacceptable. Chancellor May has directed that all student employees be paid what is owed them immediately.” The Editorial Board would like to thank UC Davis for this announcement while reminding the administration that student employees should have been paid long ago. This was an avoidable situation.
It even took yesterday’s protest for Vice Chancellor Kelly Ratliff and Interim Vice Chancellor Emily Galindo to send an email to the entire student body, informing them about emergency loan options. They wrote, “If you are in need of emergency funds, you are encouraged to apply online for a UCPath Emergency Pay Advance. Financial Aid will expedite approval, generally the same day. You will be notified of approval by email and can go to the Cashier’s Office in Dutton Hall to receive cash. Advances are up to $1,000, interest-free and are due on January 15.” Though this is an attractive option, the Editorial Board is still concerned that students will not be paid fully before this January deadline, putting them at risk of potentially missing the loan’s repayment deadline.
Our message is straightforward: There is no room for error when it comes to students’ hard-earned pay. Many students depend on the pay they receive from their on-campus jobs to pay for tuition, food, housing and other basic necessities. When we go without pay, our lives are put at risk. Platitudes and promises don’t matter, and we want more than an apology.
In response to our first editorial, Christine Lovely, the associate vice chancellor of human resources, and Matt Okomoto, the university controller, wrote to “apologize that there have been pay issues impacting student employees.” The Editorial Board would like to take this time to respond to some points they raised in their letter to our paper.
1.“Payroll wasn’t perfect before UCPath and despite our best efforts, pay errors will continue to occur. With an implementation of this scale (nearly 40,000 paychecks), there are bound to be issues. When that happens, we absolutely prioritize solving pay-impacting issues.”
Our point is not that we should return to the pre-UCPath status quo. We recognize that the old payroll system needed to be brought into the 21st century, which UCPath has so far failed to do. Given the widespread errors that have occurred during the rollout of UCPath, it is painfully obvious that the university was completely unprepared to implement this system. No matter the scale, we are talking about people, not paychecks. A late or incorrect paycheck is a missed meal, a late rent payment or worse.
2. “Another change with UCPath is that processing new employees takes longer than it used to. It’s important for all new student employees to check with your department before starting work to ensure your paperwork is fully processed in the new system. If an employee does not exist in the system, it will not generate a timesheet and the student will likely not get paid on time.”
The quarter is 10 weeks long, and hiring for many student positions cannot begin until the quarter begins. The Aggie was proactive with hiring and did not close its applications until after the university’s involvement fair. UCPath is supposed to improve payroll and human resources processes, not increase processing times beyond what they used to be. In our case, we have a newspaper to put out, and we need a full staff to make that happen. As we said before, being told “to wait it out” by responsible university employees and administrators does not cut it.
3. “Please encourage your colleagues to reach out to their department if they need help. If they need to speak with someone in person, they can also visit Trailhead, a student employee resource center, located at 2100 Dutton Hall (through November 8) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Memorial Union, Room 244 starting Tuesday, November 12 (hours to be determined).”
Only two of the nine members of the Editorial Board knew about Trailhead before this email. The one who visited the center found it unhelpful. Considering the breadth of issues that we student workers are facing, only having until Nov. 8 to visit the office is untenable. We have been coordinating with our supervisors who have been unable to help us because of UCPath’s frustrating hierarchy. Additionally, we needed a commitment of what hours staff would be available in the MU when we received this letter, not a promise of “hours to be determined.”
Every effort needs to be made now to ensure that no student waits another day for pay that they deserve. The UC and UC Davis are responsible for this catastrophic rollout. We have rent and bills to pay.
Written By: The Editorial Board