More than 1,000 people tuned in Friday to a Facebook Live Q&A event with Bloomington campus leaders who discussed employment concerns in light of remote operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are all human beings and we are all struggling with this pandemic,” Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said.
Robel, Vice President of Human Resources John Whelan, Vice Provost for Finance and Strategy Venkat Venkataramanan and IU spokesperson Chuck Carney were some of the officials who represented IU at the event. They discussed essential workers, a hiring freeze, salary raises, retirement plans and more.
Campus officials also addressed tuition refunds and the possibility of all-online fall classes. Robel said there are no plans to refund students for tuition. All resources other than physically being on campus are still available to students, so the administration does not find it necessary to offer a refund. She also said the university is doing “scenario planning” in the event that all classes will be online for the fall semester as well, but this decision will not be made until it’s clear this is absolutely necessary.
“We are desperately hoping that that won’t be necessary,” Robel said.
Whelan said only essential workers are allowed on campus. These are employees who keep the buildings operating. All essential employees will be designated by their deans, their chancellor, a vice president or Robel, Whelan said. If someone hasn't received notice from their supervisors that they are an essential worker, they should assume they are not one and should stay home.
All on-campus essential employees will be paid time and a half for all hours they normally work on campus, Whelan said. IU has committed to compensating all employees through June 30 or until the end of the semester if they were only scheduled to work through the semester. Whelan said during the event that the compensation also applies to student and temporary employees.
Whelan said there is a pause on all hiring, replacement and compensation decisions because of the financial strain on the university. He recommended people look to the Human Resources website for codes regarding paid time off for any circumstance related to COVID-19.
Any rumors about a mass university layoff occurring July 1, after the promised compensation has ended, are not true, Whelan said. Officials have not discussed a mass layoff.
However, Whelan said there is no decision whether employees should still expect a salary increase. If an employee was promised a salary increase, officials will review each case and determine if the raise is possible.
At this time IU will not be allowing changes to retirement plans, Whelan said. Employees cannot pull out savings from a 401K, but university officials may reevaluate this later.
Whelan recommends reaching out to Human Resources if an employee has a question their supervisor can’t answer. The human resource department regularly updates the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website, and Whelan said almost 7,000 people a day view it.
Students in need can apply for emergency funding from the Division of Student Affairs. This funding is to help students in critical need receive money for necessities such as food. The application allows students to request a specific amount of money and requires they provide a breakdown of their expenses, including rent, utilities and groceries. Dave O’Guinn, vice provost for student affairs, said about 600 requests have been made already. Due to the amount of requests, the Division of Student Affairs is offering a maximum of $500 per student.
Venkat said people can return university parking permits virtually. There are specific instructions on the Office of Parking Operations website detailing how to photograph a parking permit before and after destroying it and where to send the photos.
Venkat said people still cannot park in reserved handicap spaces or on campus, but rules against parking in lots without a permit are not being enforced.