Director for Student Employment Services Cynthia Meekins told student bartenders that they may be subject to legal action if they contact new clients by email, a tack some students have turned to in order to circumvent a new, more restrictive system.
This comes as Barnard Bartenders, alongside Barnard Babysitting, is transitioning from being entirely student-run to being overseen by the college, a move that caused confusion and concern among many of the affected student workers.
Students charged the new system with making communications more difficult: Some clients have followed the new procedure put forth by the college—that all hirings go through the job portal. But other clients have continued to request that bartenders communicate by email, a method preferred by students as it allows them to build professional networks.
In response to this confusion, bartenders will now be required to apply only through Barnard’s designated job posting site, JobX, and not by email as they have in the past, Meekins said in an email sent to Barnard Bartenders on Monday.
Meekins wrote that using Barnard email addresses to gather information for “personal gain” is a “misuse of the college electronic systems and may have serious legal implications.”
She also wrote that some students had been communicating with clients independently and requesting that they reach out to the bartenders directly, rather than post the listings to JobX. While Meekins wrote that she acknowledged the bartenders’ attempts to provide “high quality service,” she noted that it was unfair to other students.
“This process [is] undercutting the ability for other and new bartenders to get work, and such action is counterproductive to the aims of the college to provide bartender jobs in an equitable manner,” the email stated.
Despite communications from the college, some students have still expressed frustration that the changes to the bartending agency came abruptly and without broad student input, leading to this confusion.
In an interview last month—before SES discovered that bartenders were contacting new clients by email rather than JobX—Meekins said that clients may still reach out to bartenders that they have worked with in the past, with Dean of the College Avis Hinkson noting that Student Employment Services would not be able to keep students from maintaining those relationships.
“I don’t see how that could be prevented, [and] we’re not seeking to, but I don’t even see how we could,” Hinkson said.
However, a spokesperson for the college told Spectator that Hinkson was referring specifically to pre-existing client relationships, and clarified that the issue concerned students reaching out to new clients outside of JobX rather than merely maintaining existing connections.
In a letter last month, however, students had also outlined their own confusions about client relationships. They noted being under the impression that they would be free agents and would need to maintain their client connections independently, much like Barnard Babysitters.
But in her email, Meekins also instructed students to stop acting as free agents, noting that some students had been completing job applications by reaching out directly to the clients in addition to—and in some cases instead of—using JobX. She added that clients had asked her to instruct students to stop doing this, claiming that their emails were an inconvenience.
“They are being inundated with bartender emails through their work and person[al] email addresses, and they do not wish to receive communication that way,” she wrote. “Clients prefer to manage all job applications through one mode, and it is my understanding that their choice is to have all students apply for jobs, not email the client.”
Rose Ryan, BC ’20, said that it is her understanding that JobX still notifies clients via email when a new résumé is posted to their listing.
“I think the whole purpose of Barnard Bartending was to make [the clients’] lives easier, and their email getting flooded ... seems like the opposite of making their lives easier. They get an email every time someone submits a resume anyway,” Ryan said.
She added that she misses having student managers act as a go-between for clients and bartenders, and that keeping managers would likely have mitigated the clients’ cause for complaint.
“I think it makes sense on the client’s end; it is overwhelming to have a million people reaching out [to] them and having to pick bartenders—I mean, how would they know?” she said. “But I think it’s a weird thing [for the college] to say when JobX does pretty much the same thing.”