College replaces paid student note-taker program with volunteer-only positions

Gabe Miller

Effective this semester, the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) has stopped paying student note-takers. The change, according to Assistant to the Director of Accessible Education Jean Grant, is the result of the department’s budgetary pressure and increased student demand for note-taking services.

In past years, the College would pay students to scan and send their notes to an anonymous email address, which OAE would then provide to students with accommodations.

In the first years of the program, the office paid students for the time they were in the classes they took notes, according to Grant. More recently, however, the program has only paid note-takers two hours per week for the time it took them to send their notes. “It wasn’t just that it was costly, but we actually found out legally … you’re not supposed to pay a student while [they’re] in class,” Grant said.

This year, the program is operating on an all-volunteer basis, despite a higher number of requests for note-takers. “The need for note-taking increased… Most every student that has a relationship with our office was getting [note-taking] as an accommodation,” Grant said. “When you take every student for each class, and we’re paying them two hours a week … it gets expensive.”

“The decision to cut the program was made by OAE after they had exceeded their college-imposed student employment budget [last year],” Grant said.

The volunteer student note-taker policy has had its hardships this fall, according to Grant. Of the 105 classes for which OAE is hoping to find volunteer student note-takers, only about 40 have been filled. To help make up the difference, Grant said OAE is offering students with note-taking accommodations permission to record their classes, as long as they agree to keep recordings private and delete them after the class.

“Because the upperclassmen right now have all been here when [we paid] the note-takers, they know about that program,” Grant said. “So [when] those classes are graduated, [we] possibly will end up with more volunteers, but I can’t see that happening right away.”

For Grant, the solution is simple. “I think that we need to go back to paying the note-takers,” Grant said. “[The College] just [needs] to increase the budget for our office.”