It’s that time of year again- Finals Week. Even though I am out of school, I have a lingering dread of finals week. And it’s a little sad. At the beginning of the semester, I had 40 bright-eyed student assistants who laughed when I said that they couldn’t show up to work in their pajamas. Now, if they show up at all, I’m looking at stressed out zombies who I have to remind to brush their hair before sitting at the front desk. Yes, they will bounce back- teenagers are kind of like rubber balls when it comes to resiliency. But I feel for them. Sleep-deprived, formula-reciting, paper-writing , and let’s not forget the last parties of the semester.
So, for the last couple of years we have been giving out a combination of Finals Bags/ Christmas presents. (I can call them Christmas presents because Rockhurst is a private, Catholic university). Inside a decorative Christmas themed bag are all sorts of treats that the staff bring in– this year it included lots of chocolates and candy, some nuts packets, candy canes, play dough, kaleidoscope, and bubbles. On Friday, the staff had a bag-stuffing party, and the bags are ready to go.
There are times when I wish we had less student assistants. Certainly the schedules would be easier to coordinate, communication would be easier, but mostly it’s because it can be a challenge to think up special things to do for our students that don’t break my bank account. However, doing these type of things is important because, let’s face it, student assistants have none of the traditional motivations that would happen with traditional employment. They are paid minimum wage with no possibility of raises. We do not have a library science program at the school, so none of our students are planning to go on and get a library degree. Classes, schoolwork and tutoring come first, as that is the reason why they are in college after all. But by putting school first, they often decide to put sports and other off-campus jobs first as well. Soon, their library work-study job is last. Keeping them well fed and acknowledged is one tool I can use over and over again. And they have to show up and work during finals week in order to claim their treat bag. So I’m not calling it a bribe… but sometimes a little chocolate can go a long way.