Despite rumors, Café Mac workers not quitting en masse

Earlier in the semester, rumors of a mass exodus of student workers from Café Mac floated around the school. Supposedly, over 60 workers had quit their jobs at Café Mac following last semester.

Josh Olson, Bon Appetit’s director of operations at Café Mac since 2012, said Wednesday that these claims are entirely false.

“I hired 68 students at the start of this year, and probably had eight decline in the first place, before they started working. We lost only about 10 after last semester,” Olson said.

There is also no specific rule stating that Café Mac workers must stay the entire year. Although Olson reserves the right to retain them if needed, he is accepting when students find a new job on campus.

“The students who left found other work at places like the Info Desk or as an athletic trainer. I sign off on their release form, and they’re free to go,” Olson said. “We’re just not allowed to release people during the first semester.”

“If we need help, I have the option to say ‘We can’t release you,’ but usually I let them go if they find something else,” Olson explained.

Café Mac is more labor-intensive than many jobs on campus, a fact that Olson readily admits and pays attention to.

“I know a lot of campus jobs don’t require much, and that’s the thing about this place — you have to work, it’s a responsibility, and we depend on the students a lot. I always give raises to the hard workers,” Olson said. “I realize this isn’t a job where they can sit and do homework, so I am always watching to see how they’re working, and if they do a great job, I try to help them out by giving them more money.”

Olson may not have faced a mass departure of his students workers this year, but there have been other issues involving staffing.

“The thing that hurts us is the MWF class schedules, because we never have anyone to work during lunch, as they all have class. The ones who do work have to leave by 12:45 or 1, but the shift goes until 2:30,” Olson said.

At times, there’s nobody working during lunch time, which makes it hard for Café Mac to run as it should. Despite the dearth of student workers during these time periods, Olson emphasized that “School comes first, and we try to work with students on their class schedules and that sort of thing.”

Another factor involved in the work difficulties is the number of students who began work at Café Mac this year.

“Last year, we started with roughly 80 students, and it went down this year. We had an abundance of people,” Olson said. “Right now, we really need more students to work in the Atrium as well as the lunch and weekend shifts.”
The inability to use student workers during the bustling Café Mac lunch periods has led to alternate staffing measures.

“I’ve hired two part-time employees so far to help out during lunch and other times, which may cause me not to hire as many students next year,” Olson said.
Café Mac may involve a greater load of work than other work study jobs, but Olson believes that employment there offers its own benefits.

“This is a good learning experience for the real world — you have to work in the real world. A lot of people like it. I have some students who have been here since they were first years,” Olson said.