Student Worker Handbook

This brief manual outlines the expectations and responsibilities for students hired to work in the Department of Religious Studies, whether as part-time student workers, as work-study students, or as Silverstein Fellows. It also outlines the expectations placed on professors who work with student assistants. A bound, hard copy of this handbook is available in the department’s main office.

Table of Contents

  1. General Expectations
  2. Supervision
  3. Terms of Employment
  4. Salary and Payment
  5. Student Work Hours
  6. Signing In
  7. Time Sheets
  8. Notifying Supervisor
  9. Requesting Assistance
  10. Supervisory Meetings
  11. Projects and Work Area
  12. Assistants in REL 100
  13. Mailboxes
  14. Office Etiquette
  15. Skills
  16. Office Security
  17. Ethics
  18. Harassment
  19. Drug-Free Workplace
  20. Discipline

I. General Expectations

Student workers in the Department of Religious Studies perform a variety of tasks, which include those that pertain to helping to run the main office and those that pertain to specific projects assigned to them by individual Professors. Student workers are expected to carry out all of their tasks promptly and properly. Each assigned task must, therefore, be done correctly the first time.

II. Supervision

The Department’s Administrative Secretary, Ms. Betty Dickey, is the Supervisor for all student workers and for all staff positions in the Department of Religious Studies. The Supervisor reports directly to the Chair of the Department. The Chair is ultimately responsible for all activities within the Department and reports directly to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.
Although student workers may be assigned by their Supervisor to an individual Professor, to assist with delimited tasks that support the Professor’s work in the Department (e.g., between 5 and 10 hours per week), tasks assigned to student workers by their Supervisor always take priority. In other words, all student workers are employed by the Department’s main office and, at the discretion of their Supervisor, may be assigned to assist specific Professors for specific projects. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all student workers to keep their Supervisor apprised of the projects on which they are working for Professors. It is also the responsibility of the Supervisor to ensure that Professors who rely on student workers are notified of other projects assigned to the student.
When an individual Professor assigns a task to a student worker, the Professor is responsible for ensuring that the task is completed within a reasonable period of time. Professors must therefore provide clear instructions and set reasonable deadlines for the completion of the task and ensure that the student has all of the resources and skills required to complete the task. Professors may request to meet briefly (weekly or biweekly) with student workers assigned to them, to determine progress made on these tasks; this meeting could also take the form of email updates to inform the Professor of the progress that has been made on the assignment.

In cases where the Professor judges that insufficient progress has been made, the Professor is responsible to address the issue directly and in person with the student worker. If this does not resolve the problem, the Professor should speak with the Supervisor. While students are advised to speak directly with the Professor if the instructions were unclear or if the expectations were unreasonable, they are also welcome to address such concerns directly to their Supervisor who, in turn, will speak with the Professor or the Chair of the Department.

III. Terms of Employment

Students are generally hired for one semester; near the end of each semester student workers meet individually with their Supervisor for a brief evaluation to determine whether they will be rehired for the following semester. Although the Department benefits from students who are trained in their duties and who are able to return to the Department in future academic years, this is not guaranteed.

IV. Salary and Payment

The salary for the student’s work is set by the Department, unless the student holds a work study position, in which case the rate is set by Student Aide. Student workers generally submit checking account information so that the University can direct deposit their pay into their account. Pay stubs, detailing the amount of pay and any deductions that have been taken off, are delivered to the Department.

V. Student Work Hours

The total number of hours to be worked each week, along with the scheduling of these hours, will be set by the Supervisor in consultation with each student worker. To minimize over-crowding in the Department’s main office, the Supervisor will work to ensure that no more than two student workers are scheduled to work in the main office at any given time.

VI. Signing In

At the start and end of each shift, student workers must sign-in and out at the main office. These sign-in sheets are the basis for completing the time sheets for each pay period. Whether the student is working out of the main office or not (i.e., working in a Professor’s office, the Department library, Gorgas Library, etc.), signing-in ensures that the Supervisor knows which students are working and when.

If a student worker’s work for a Professor can be done out of the student’s own home (i.e., word processing work on his/her own computer), and if this work location is acceptable to the Professor, then the student is responsible to sign-in at the appropriate place on their time sheet the next time they are in the Department. Until evidence to the contrary arises, the Department trusts that students will report only those hours for which they were working for the Department and/or a Professor.

VII. Time Sheets

Because student workers are paid every two weeks, they must submit to their Supervisor a properly completed time sheet. Students will be instructed on how to complete the time sheet, and when it must be submitted, by their Supervisor. Time sheets must correspond to the sign-in sheets, which will be kept on file.

VIII. Notifying Supervisor

Student workers are expected to notify the Supervisor prior to their scheduled work time if they are unable to report to work. Repeated failure to notify the Supervisor in a timely fashion, or the repeated inability to fulfill the agreed upon work schedule, will result in a letter of reprimand or termination (see below).

IX. Requesting Student Assistance

Professors interested in working with a student worker must make the request of the Chair of the Department. This request must include an outline of the type of work required of the student and a reasonable schedule for its timely completion. The work assigned to student workers by Professors must only involve the Professor’s professional contributions to the Department and normally does not involve the students in classroom work.

X. Supervisory Meetings

At a time that is convenient for everyone, the Supervisor will hold monthly meetings with all student workers to brief them on new tasks and to learn of the progress they have made on their ongoing projects for the Department and for individual Professors. These meetings also provide an opportunity for student workers to offer feedback to their Supervisor.

XI. Projects and Work Area

Although all student workers work for, and out of, the Department’s main office (Manly 212), they will sometimes be assigned to work with a Professor for a period of their time each week. These projects can involve carrying out errands on campus (e.g., trips to the library to acquire or return books, photocopying, scanning, etc.) or they might be involved working on a long term project to assist the Professor’s duties within the Department or his/her research.

Among the regular tasks expected of student workers are

  1. Work out of Manly 212 and be prepared to answer the telephone and direct all inquiries.
  2. Carry out all assigned projects in an efficient and professional manner.
  3. Sort the incoming mail in a prompt fashion.
  4. Place incoming faxes in the proper mailbox.
  5. Carry out photocopying tasks in a prompt fashion; ensure that the Department’s photocopier is filled with paper.
  6. Empty the recycling.
  7. Ensure that the Department’s lounge and library are clean and orderly.
  8. Report shortages of supplies to their Supervisor.
  9. Ensure that the classroom has a sufficient number of markers and brushes and that the classroom’s chairs/tables are arranged in an orderly manner.

At times when no specific tasks have been assigned to student workers, the Department presumes that they will take initiative to carry out tasks on the above list and to seek out their Supervisor or Professors to inquire whether there are projects with which they can assist. Ongoing work materials can be kept in a file in the main office or in a secure place in the student work area of the main office. Because it is a public office, the student work area is to be kept clear of unnecessary clutter.

XII. Assistants in REL 100

Professors teaching a large enrollment section of REL 100 are entitled to student assistance for up to 10 hours per week for the semester in which they teach the course. This assistance is intended to help the Professor maintain up to date class records, process class tests and quizzes in a timely and efficient fashion, and generally assist with the day-to-day administration of the large enrollment class.

Although student assistants can do such things as show films and distribute assignments in the Professor’s absence, they are not to be expected to deliver new class material in place of the Professor’s own lectures. Under the supervision of the Professor, and at the Professor’s discretion, student assistants can, however, periodically gain teaching experience in these classes by doing such things as leading discussions or making a delimited presentation to the class, akin to a seminar presentation.

Students are selected by the Chair of the Department to work with REL 100 Professors based on the Department’s needs and schedule. Professors who will be working with these students have direct input into the selection process; the students selected will normally be upper-level REL students with sufficient experience and expertise to be a benefit to the Professor and to the class.

XIII. Mailboxes

Student workers will have a mail box in the Department, where the Supervisor or Professor can place new projects. It is recommended that the Supervisor or Professor speak directly with the student worker if the project involves instructions not easily communicated in writing. The mail box is not meant to be used to store projects, so student workers must routinely check their mail, ensure that they are up-to-date on requests, and ensure that their mail box is kept empty.

XIV. Office Etiquette

Student workers are expected to maintain a professional demeanor at all times when working in the Department. They will be instructed on how to answer and use the telephone and how to field queries. When not scheduled to work, student workers will not be present in the main office for extended periods of time. Student workers will not use the Department’s equipment for personal use.

XV. Skills

Student workers must possess the basics of computing and be willing to learn the skills required of their employment, such as new software or using the photocopier, scanner, forwarding calls, taking messages, etc.

XVI. Office Security

Confidentiality is assumed, such that student workers will not discuss with anyone outside the Department activities that take place within the Department. Normally, student workers will not be assigned keys to doors within the Department.

XVII. Ethics

As employees of The University of Alabama, student assistants are expected to value

  • The Educational process and the role we play in the development of others
  • Excellence in interactions with all other members of the University and surrounding community
  • The use of equal consideration and nondiscrimination with respect to all individuals regardless of sex, race, age, religion, physical ability or sexual orientation
  • The highest standards of personal conduct
  • The genuine concern for the welfare of all employees and guests of the University
  • A sincere respect for the rights and privacy of all members of the University and surrounding community
  • A commitment to the enhancement of the University’s environment and reputation

XVIII. Harassment

Students should expect a harassment-free work-space in which to carry out their assigned tasks; in other words, the Department expects all of its members-faculty, staff, part-time student workers, and all of its students-to work with each other in a professional, and respectful manner. If student workers experience conditions that do not meet with these reasonable expectations, then they should immediately report the incident to their Supervisor.

Although this report can be made verbally, more than likely the report will entail the student submitting a signed and dated narrative to their Supervisor. The Supervisor will then report the incident to the Chair of the Department who, in consultation with the student worker, as well as the student workers’ supervisor, will make a determination of the best course to follow to address the incident so as to prevent its recurrence and to discipline any party who is judged to have adversely affected the workplace’s professional environment.

XIX. Drug-Free Workplace

The Drug-Free Campus and Work Place Policy is applicable to behavior that occurs on the University Campus, University owned or controlled property, while on assignment for the University and at University sponsored or supervised activities.

It is the responsibility of the employee to periodically review Human Resource policies for any updated efforts to maintain a drug-free campus. Refer to the UA website for a complete version of the Drug-Free Campus and Workplace Policy.

XX. Discipline

If a student worker is not performing to the satisfaction of the Supervisor (e.g., leaving tasks uncompleted or completed poorly, missing work or repeatedly arriving late, failing to treat others in the Department with a professional manner, etc.), or if a written complaint is lodged with the Supervisor against a student worker, the Supervisor will have a meeting with the student at the earliest opportunity. At this meeting a formal letter of reprimand will be presented to the student, documenting the specific nature of the complaint, along with a verbal warning regarding the specific changes required in the student’s behavior. The student retains the right to appeal this letter of reprimand with the Chair of the Department.

If a second meeting is required to address the same complaint, then the Supervisor and the student will meet with the Chair of the Department who will decide whether a second letter of reprimand is required, along with specific instructions concerning changes in the student’s behavior, or whether the student should no longer work in the Department. The student retains the right to appeal this letter of reprimand or termination notice with the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

If a series of meetings/letters of reprimand are required, with each pertaining to separate incidents, then the Chair of the Department can terminate the student’s employment in the Department. The student retains the right to appeal this letter of termination with the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.