Students impacted by staff shortages feel optimistic as dust settles

Bella Yee, Contributing Writer

Students and staff impacted by staff shortages at the beginning of the semester report feeling optimistic as year goes along. 

Senior Lauren Howard serves on the E-Board of the Student Government Association, where she works closely with the Center for Leadership and Engagement (CLE) to coordinate and communicate with all student organizations, and aid students’ out-of-class concerns. The CLE was hit particularly hard with staff turnover.

“During the first few weeks when students needed support the most, everyone was going through transition,” said Howard. “If there was ever a time that we needed excessive community engagement, it’s now.”

Julia Hvoslef, director of the CLE, said that she began her work at Simmons on September 15, two weeks into the fall 2021 semester. The previous program coordinator left days prior to her arrival, leaving Hvoslef to define the role on her own.

Orientation leader and first-year mentor Maijun Jamdee spoke about the confusion she felt.  “At the beginning, I definitely wasn’t very well supported,” she said. “With the leadership changing, everything was very much up in the air. Simmons was kind of in a period of disorganization that I have never seen from them.”

Hvoslef made it clear that she is aware of how these major changes have affected students. “When staff leave– you lose that knowledge, you lose the relationships that they built,” she said.

Jamdee added that the demand for information is high, as students adapt to ever changing COVID-19 protocol, campus construction, and added stress.

“Now that everything is starting to settle I feel like the support systems at Simmons have gotten a lot stronger,” Jamdee said.

This sentiment is echoed by Howard. “It seems like everything, at least in student affairs, feels like we’re back on the right track,” said Howard. “I am excited to work with [the CLE] in the future and I am excited for them to become a part of the community.” 

Hvoslef says that the CLE looks forward to getting to know more students and building mentor-mentee relationships on campus as the year goes on. 

“I can understand if and why students may have felt that the beginning was a little bit chaotic, or unstructured, or unsupported,” said Hvoslef. “That can definitely cause disruptions. I am hopeful that, with this new team, we can smooth some of that out.”