Written by: Will Lewis
Despite claims made by the Night Operations Team employees that change is coming to the night shuttle service, VSU officials are assuring students that the night shuttle will continue to operate.
A N.O.T. employee alleged that a statement made at a recent meeting informed night shuttle drivers that, due to the Affordable Care Act, their employment may change.
The official stance of the Housing and Residence Life department is that the ACA will not play a role in the N.O.T.’s future, with Dr. Tom Hardy, director of housing and residence life, calling the idea “ridiculous.”
“This whole thing has gotten confangled,” Dr. Hardy said. “It almost sounds like an old telephone game. This one said this, and this one said that. The shuttle service is continuing in operation like it always has for the rest of the semester; nothing’s changing in regards to that.
“Somebody is going to be running shuttle in the fall. It’s not like we are discontinuing the service or anything. So I’m not sure where this whole health care thing came from; it has nothing to do with health care,” Dr. Hardy said.
Dr. Hardy went on to say that any changes brought on by the ACA will definitely not affect night shuttle operations.
“(The night shuttle is) a safety concern,” Dr. Hardy said. “Someone at this university has always had to run night operations so people can stay safe. That’s the most important thing in the world.”
Rumors of the potential shutdown began after a March 9 meeting, where employees were allegedly told that the service would be discontinued.
“(Arian Bryant) told us that due to the new Obamacare, if an employee works over 19 hours, (VSU has) to pay for our health insurance, and VSU can’t afford that,” Joseph Rigsby, night shuttle employee, said.
Bryant, N.O.T. leader, said that Rigsby may have missed some of the information relayed in the meeting.
“I’m unable to speak on it,” Bryant said. “As far as what Joe Rigsby told you, he did not tell you the whole story. He gave you a partial story.”
Bryant refused to elaborate on the statement he made at the meeting. Instead he asked for questions to be directed to Ryan Teeter, assistant director of housing for residential facilities.
Teeter was reached Wednesday but refused to comment.
Jayvone Smith, night shuttle employee, said that employee hours may be the only thing at stake.
“(Employment) would be changed for the allotment of hours; we aren’t losing our jobs,” Smith said. “(The ACA) is affecting everybody with grad assistantships and everything else.
“It wasn’t that we are definitely losing our jobs because we don’t know yet. Instead of working 39 hours a week, they are saying that we might be able to work no more than 1,300 hours annually,” Smith said.
Hours aside, the service is popular among students. Rigsby said that the shuttle averages approximately 800 riders a week.
Will Jimerson, SGA president, emphasized the importance of the night shuttle service.
“The university is going to have to continue this service, no matter if they’re considering it or not, because it is a safety issue, or a safety precaution, that we have in place for our students,” Jimerson said.
Jimerson also suggested an alternative theory to what could be going on with the service.
“I think the speculation now is that it may just be a realignment on our campus because right now Night Operations runs out of Housing, but it may be a realignment for it to move somewhere else; but we don’t know at this time,” Jimerson said.