UI work grant incentivizes dining hall employment

The Hawkeye Work Grant program is intended to limit the financial barriers still existing for many students at UI


Vincenzo Mazza

The outside of Burge Dining Hall is seen on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

University of Iowa Housing and Dining launched a pilot program to award new dining hall associates a $1,000 grant to increase the number of student workers on campus.

The UI sent out emails for the Hawkeye Work Grant in late October to recruit qualified students. Associates perform a variety of jobs, including cooking, cashiering, dishwashing, restocking food, and cleaning.

Director of University Dining Jill Irvin said students will receive the bonus after the student working during both the fall and spring semesters.

“It’s just an opportunity for students to earn more financial aid who have some unmet need, and it really is a benefit to University Housing and Dining because we are always in need of student employees and so it has been a wonderful collaboration,” she said.

Irvin said the program originated out of discussions between the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of the Provost about students in need of financial assistance.

Sign-ups for the program have closed, Irvin said, and students with the grant are starting to work.

“This is a pilot program so we’re just trying it out to see if this works. If this works for students, if this works for us,” she said. “We have 125 students signed up for it, so I would say it is quite successful.”

UI first-year student Evjen Walters said he received an email informing him about the program.

“I was like, ‘This sounds like a great deal.’ [I] could use something to keep me busy when I’m not doing schoolwork,” Walters said. “I thought working at the dining hall specifically doing like cleaning or dishes or whatever would be a great way to do that while also not taking too much out of my time.”

Walters said he went to fill out paperwork for the job at Catlett Market Place on Oct. 31.

“I was basically hired on the spot, and then I recently got the hours on it,” Walters said. “Nov. 2 is when I officially got my schedule.”

Walters said he is looking forward to getting more work experience and meeting new coworkers.

Ellie Clardy, a UI first-year, began working in Catlett Market Place in August before the work grant program launched.

“I chose Catlett because I know they had flexible hours, would work around my schedule, and had competitive pay related to Iowa City along with the fact of the convenience that it was already in the residence hall where I was living,” Clardy said.

The Hawkeye Work Grant program is intended to be evaluated throughout the school year to see if it meets the financial needs of students, Irvin said.

Potential evaluation criteria of the program, Irvin said, would be the number of students who complete the entire program in employment, the number of students newly able to register for classes, and retention in employment in UI Housing and Dining following the completion of both semesters.

“I’m certain that there will be discussions about broadening and extending it into subsequent years,” Irvin said.

Emily Nyberg contributed to this report.