This fall, after freezing salaries, cutting departmental budgets and taking other measures to address the substantial financial impact of the pandemic, Oxy made the painful decision to furlough 27 percent of its non-academic staff.
The decision to protect the health and safety of the community by moving to remote teaching and learning in line with public health guidance meant that there wasn’t work for these employees with just a handful of students on campus.
Almost immediately, out of concern for their colleagues and friends, a group of staff and faculty came together to organize and run an Employee Relief Fund (ERF). In little more than three months, this grassroots effort has raised almost $130,000 that has gone directly to more than 140 staff members who have been furloughed or otherwise financially impacted by the pandemic.
In response to this spontaneous expression of mutual care and support, a 20-year Cleaning Services veteran penned a note of thanks that was published last month in The Occidental. She said in part:
“That the Oxy family has continued to stay strong, without sacrificing its culture or mission, has made a huge difference in these dark times. … This outpouring of solidarity inspires us and arouses emotions of praise and gratitude. Our sincere thanks to all of you who created the aid fund and all of you caring souls who donated. Your effort was worth the cost, as it has brought us economic comfort in this period of great change. Your example inspires faith, generosity and kindness. You are a torch of light and hope.”
Even with this deeply moving response from the campus community, there have not been enough funds to meet the need. There are still applications pending, and with the extension of furloughs through the end of February in response to the recent COVID-19 surge and the restrictions imposed by county public health officials, the volunteer ERF Committee expects to receive new applications.
This is why, as we move through the holidays and into the new year, we want to invite you to consider making a gift to the Employee Relief Fund. You can do so by using our online giving form. Please note this is the standard Occidental giving form, so it is important that you select “Other” as the gift designation, and in the corresponding text box, type “Employee Relief Fund.”
Community is one of the pillars of Occidental’s mission, together with excellence, equity and service. The pandemic has only served to demonstrate how powerful this pillar is. We are grateful for your help, at whatever amount feels right to you, in affirming the values that make Oxy the unique place that it is.