On March 12, Southern Miss announced it would extend its Spring Break by a week and shift all classes online in light of the spreading coronavirus. However, those employed in Student Services will still have to work over Spring Break.
Senior criminal justice major Villiman Magee said he is not upset about having to work at the Payne Center over Spring Break. His biggest concern, instead, is the possibility of someone contracting the virus at the gym.
“Gyms are one of the high-risk places when it comes to catching the virus, so while I’m not worried, I know some of the older folks who come here need to be a bit more careful,” Magee said.
While some are concerned about what’s happening stateside, others, like freshman public health major Mark Saadalla, are worried about how their families are faring back at home. Saadalla is from Egypt and said he planned on visiting his family over the break. However, because of his newly extended hours, he is now unable.
“We were supposed to be working more, but a lot of the big events got canceled. Not to mention, all the yoga classes and similar workout classes were canceled too because of the recent turn of events,” Saadalla said.
Saadalla said he is keeping tabs on how the virus is unfolding and what effects it will have on campus.
“The number of cases seems small, but it’s bound to increase as the days pass,” Saadalla said.
As of March 16, the number of reported coronavirus cases in Mississippi is 12, which makes up a small margin of the more than 3,000 confirmed cases in the United States.
Southern Miss has currently not made any announcements to close its student service facilities. However, the university has given student employees the choice to either continue working or resign due to concerns surrounding the virus. Students who are working will still receive pay.
For those who have chosen to stay, there are a variety of opinions on whether student workers remaining on-campus during the coronavirus outbreak will receive extra compensation for their efforts.
“I don’t feel the campus should increase student pay for those working, but what they should do is allow people to work more hours. If student workers choose not to go home, then they should be allowed the extra time to work,” Magee said.
Senior broadcast journalism major Jonathan Smith said some students might not be able to work because the facility they work in was shut down.
“I think Southern Miss should provide compensation to those unable to work, especially if working on campus was their only source of income,” Smith said.
Saadalla said Southern Miss’ attention should be directed elsewhere.
“What I think the university really needs to do is stock up on cleaning supplies. With all the stories popping up about people buying out the cleaning goods, Southern Miss needs to be prepared in case facilities run low on such items,” Saadalla said.
Magee said that working over the Spring Break won’t impact how fast the break passes. If anything, the extended break means the days will go by even slower than before.
“I don’t mind working here during this two-week break, because at the very least, I am still earning money, and it keeps me out of the house and off the couch,” Smith said. “And with the money, I can save it up for trips I am planning to take later this year.”