By Contributing Writer Nicole O’Connell
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Multiliteracy & Communication Center is down one administrator due to problems processing paperwork in Human Resources.
Joshua Botvin is the assistant director of the MCC and a part-time faculty member in the English Department. His paperwork to work in the MCC was submitted in August, but the paperwork has yet to be processed, and though he had been working in the center, he has yet to be compensated.
“The reason for this lack of compensation has been bureaucratic red tape,” says MCC Director Elisabeth Buck. “As a result, I asked [Botvin] not to work in the center anymore until HR and Payroll can guarantee that he will receive compensation.”
This was on November 15. As the end of the semester approaches, the MCC gets busier with students coming in to work on end-of-the-year projects. Administrators and staff at the MCC also now have to take into consideration Botvin’s absence during this time.
Buck calls the processing delays an unethical and pervasive problem.
“I see this as a huge issue in the university, and I really hope that in speaking here there might be some more visibility as to just how pervasive and filled with consequences a lack of clear and efficient processing of paperwork can be. I know of various other departments where a similar lack of efficiency has had very significant consequences,” she says.
Sarah Murphy, a graduate student at UMass Dartmouth studying education, has a similar concern. Murphy works at the MCC and the Writing & Reading Center.
At the beginning of October, the director of the Writing & Reading Center retired. The paperwork to accept the tutors’ hours was completed, but the paperwork had trouble going through.
“I do not know exactly what happened, but I know that we did not get paid, so there was a two-week section that none of us got paid for,” Murphy says. “Some people got part of their checks, but I did not get any of it. Then they told us that we could either get a paper check issued or we had to wait two weeks to get our money, so I did get it this past payroll section, but it took two extra weeks.”
“It’s just frustrating especially because I know a lot of people need money to feed themselves or to buy gas to get here, and when you just don’t get that money for two weeks and you were planning on it, it’s kind of, you know, for me it wasn’t that big of a deal, but I’m sure for other people it was ‘Okay, I’m missing my entire paycheck, what am I going to do for the next two weeks?’” Murphy says.
Time to process paperwork has also caused difficulties at the MCC before.
“It has taken up to five or six weeks for HR and Payroll to process [tutors’] paperwork, so as a result I was submitting those hiring documents in January, and some tutors had not been able to work until almost March of last year,” says Buck. “It is really common for there to be a many-weeks-long delay for getting the approval for employees to work.”
The MCC is an essential part of our campus. Writing and other literacy skills apply to all academic programs and will be used by students throughout their whole lives. These HR delays bring into question the efforts of UMass Dartmouth to ensure students are prepared with the literacy skills they need.
As of November 22, HR at UMass Dartmouth had not replied to The Torch’s request for comment.