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Johnson, Dwight A. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 51, Number 8 (May 1950)

Tormey, Marion E.
Paving a hard cash road through college,   p. 3


Page 3


Paving a Hard Cash Road through College
     How the University
       helps students work
     their way through school
     By Marion E. Tormey,
             Director,
Student Employment Bureau
MARION E. TORMEY
Job hunting . . .
  WENTY-FIVE years ago when
      the Student Employment Bu-
      reau was in its first season,
 Director Alice King (now Mrs. V.
 W. Meloche) sometimes had to tack
 signs on the trees to attract stu-
 dent attention. Today the situation
 is different, as bad as it was before
 the war. Now many of the GI allot-
 ments have run out, there is an ever
 increasing number of applicants for
 student part-time work, there is an
 unfortunate scarcity of jobs, and
 students are once again taking a
 most any type of work listed.
   Over the years and through some
 107,000 placements, it has been the
 purpose of the Student Employ-
 ment Bureau to help bridge such
 gaps between jobs available and stu-
 dents available.
 500/0 in the "Working Class"
   Several thousand students now
 apply for work annually. Practically
 50 per cent of the student body is to
 some degree self-supporting. Some
 borrow for their education, some
 stay out of school for a year or two
 in order to work and save as much
 as possible, and some very ambitious
 students attempt to earn their en-
 tire way while at the University.
 It is not an easy task to work
 one's way through school. The stu-
 dents who make a success of it-
 that is, do acceptable school work,
 keep their health, and satisfy their
 employers-have unusual courage,
 perseverance, and ability to manage
 their time. They must be willing
 to forego some good times and to
 adapt themselves to whatever con-
 ditions their jobs demand.
 Among the skilled workers we
p 1 a c e are stenographers, typists,
MAY, 1950    ...
bookkeepers, operators of various
  office machines, draftsmen, tutors in
  every subject, window   trimmers,
  gardeners, carpenters, p a i n t e r s,
  showcard writers, printers, and en-
  tertainers.
  And each year we receive some
  quite amusing calls. One day a boy
  rushed into the office and wanted
  us to find a "human alarm clock" for
  he could not wake up for his 7:45
  classes; we located a neighboring
  boy who took the job. A bride called
  last year for a student to mend her
  husband's socks, for she hated to sew.
  Extremes
  The Bureau is almost always able
  to find some student who can and
  will take on these rare jobs, but the
  office still has its problems and they
  are about as changeable as the
  weather. Either we are trying to fit
  3,000 students into 300 jobs or, as
  during the war, there are perhaps
  600 listings we cannot fill.
  During the depression the stu-
  dents were glad to accept any type
  of work, and many had to withdraw
from school because of lack of funds.
Then the federal aid programs were
put into operation and many stu-
dents were able to stay in school
because of them.
  From 1934 to 1943 the govern-
ment granted the University $1,-
167,136.15 through the FERA and
NRA. Under these arrangements
suggestions for work projects were
submitted  by  all University  de-
partments and subsequently    nar-
the faculty that we have been able
rowed down to the "worthwhile" by
a faculty committee. The Student
Employment Bureau     received as
many as 2,500 applications for these
jobs each year, and it was a difficult
task to select the most deserving
students for the 1,000 jobs.
   Then came the years during the
 war. Enrollment dropped, money
 seemed more plentiful, and students
 were less inclined to work. Many
 girls took over the work that men
 had been doing, but we never had
 enough applicants to fill our re-
 quests. President Clarence Dykstra
 at one time even thought of calling
 an  all-University convocation  to
 ask for volunteer workers, but with
 publicity and appeals in the Daily
 Cardinal the situation became better.
 Postwar Picture
   After the war there was the great
 influx of veterans, many of them
 married and with families. The pic-
 ture changed again. The boys in
 service had been earning satisfac-
 tory wages and even though they
 needed work they objected to the
 rate of pay for student help.
   Now, with only a handful study-
 ing under the GI Bill, the job-
 hunting attitude is different. The job
 situation is tight for undergraduates
 just as it is for graduates, and the
 gap can be bridged only if the Bu-
 reau is informed about all available
 part time work in Madison and full
 time summer work around the state.
 It has always been the aim of
 the Bureau to help all needy stu-
 dents and it is only through the co-
 operation of Madison residents and
 the faculty that we have been able
 to fulfill our purpose. It is gratify-
 ing, indeed, to know that one has
 played a small part in helping these
 people secure -an education which
 otherwise might have been denied
them.                           U X


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