The Award Winning Newspaper Of Pace University


The Award Winning Newspaper Of Pace University


The Award Winning Newspaper Of Pace University


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Response to “BIPOC Mentors Unpaid Since Fall”

Pace University

We thank Dr. Stephanie Akunvabey, Ms. Nila Bhaumik, and Ms. Susan Donahue for taking the article, posted on March 15th, 2024, into consideration and responding during Spring Break.

The following is their response to “BIPOC Mentors Unpaid Since Fall”. For better clarity, the email response has been broken up by paragraph into numbers to reference as you move through the response. In Italics below is a reply by the original author of the article.


  1. In response to an article in the Pace Chronicle on March 14, 2024, about stipends not being paid to BIPOC peer mentors, we feel it is important to provide information and context to this issue while correcting and clarifying some misinformation that was reported in the article.
  1. To begin, we value our student workers and peer mentors. They are an important part of our employee population and serve in a variety of critical roles that help our community thrive.
  2. We also want to emphasize that as of March 13, 2024, all peer mentors have been paid.
  1. The Human Resources Office was contacted by the reporter to be interviewed for an article on the issues students face with wages while working on-campus jobs.   The Associate Director of Talent Acquisition who was contacted did not decline an interview, as stated in the article, but rather was continuing communications with the reporter to schedule an interview when the article was published. Human Resources welcomes dialogue and transparency with the Pace community including students.
  1. This response aims to offer additional context and clarify the circumstances leading to delayed payments for student employment and what was done to rectify the situation.
  1. Human Resources and the University’s Payroll Offices acknowledged in a community-wide communication sent on January 29, 2024, that, as a result of challenges faced during a major implementation of a brand-new Human Capital Management (HCM) system, UKG Ready, some Pace employees, including student employees, experienced inconveniences with their paychecks and timekeeping processes. HR and Payroll have been working tirelessly to address all concerns and address any discrepancies in payroll because of this massive transition of systems.
  1. Human Resources and Payroll are thankful to the Pace Community for their patience and understanding, as we work to improve all employees’ experience with the transition to the new HCM system.We are confident we will overcome these challenges, and, in the future, create a more efficient, streamlined, and user-friendly system that benefits all Pace employees including student employees who are an integral part of the University community.
  1. The Excelsior Peer Mentor Program referenced in the article was designed to help new BIPOC students create a greater sense of connection and provide valuable guidance as new students learn to navigate the Pace community. During the Fall 2023 semester, the program fell short of providing adequate support for students who had agreed to welcome newcomers to campus.  Issues with the Fall 2023 payroll and the Program Director’s transition to a new role outside of Pace University, also left many students feeling uncertain and frustrated.
  1. Stephanie Akunvabey, the new Associate Vice President for DEI and Chief Diversity Officer, joined Pace University on August 1, Dr. Akunvabey had the opportunity to address those frustrations through group meetings with the mentors, and several one-on-one interactions with affected students. Outstanding payment issues were a top priority. Fortunately, collaborations with students, Payroll, and HR ensured that all outstanding Fall 2023 issues were corrected by the March 15, 2024 payroll. We also have new guidelines in place to ensure that Spring 2024 payments will not be delayed in the new UKG system.
  1. Feedback from students also allowed us to imagine new programmatic possibilities for the Spring 2024 semester. Students now have greater clarity regarding expectations, the purpose of the program, and desired outcomes. We have revamped the process for matching mentees/mentors and, we have developed new assessment tools to better understand the mentee and mentor experience. As a testament to the spirit of networking and mentorship, the program is now focused on encouraging meaningful collaborations with student groups and other divisions across campus.

Stephanie Akunvabey, Chief Diversity Officer & Associate Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Nila Bhaumik, Chief Human Resources Officer & Vice President, Human Resources

Susan Donahue, Associate VP, Talent Management & Organizational Effectiveness


Respecting our student workers comes with respecting the concerns coming forward on important things such as lack of payment. In point Three, it is stated that all peer mentors have been paid as of March 13th, 2024. However, as of Monday, April 8th, we have found other Peer Mentors who have yet to be paid for their work last semester. 

In Point Four, contact with HR is discussed. The terminology used in our article is “formal interview”, which consists of a video or phone interview on the subject. This was not an option at the time of contact, and any further response in a follow-up was offered by the Chronicle moving forward. We apologize if this terminology was unclear. The sentiment still stands moving forward, and we have plans to be in further communication. The remainder of their response matches with what has been reported in the “BIPOC Mentors Unpaid Since Fall” article. 

Point Six addresses the new UKG system. This system was implemented after all of the events spoken about in the article. These students should’ve been paid last semester, under former management, and this new system had no impact on the peer mentors current situation. Only one student (non peer-mentor) in the article was stated to have issues with payment under a position in Spring 2024 – however, she also had issues getting paid last semester, under the older system. 

Payment for workers has been an ongoing issue, one many have dealt with and excused for HR problems. This shouldn’t become something we become complacent with. And we understand that HR does have a lot of concerns to reply to – information sessions on the UKG system have been held on both campuses in March, to create clarity. Although during working hours on weekdays, these sessions were a good chance to inform students and staff more about this system. 

Still, the greater issue is within student payment coming on time, and communication with HR being inconsistent. Having an advisor advocate for you aids the situation – but when this is lacking as well, too many students find themselves waiting months to get paid after a lack of proper guidance getting into HR’s system. 

Recently, Stephanie Akunvabey has assumed the responsibilities previously held by Mr. Timothy Stanfield and has made changes to the system which has provided a clearer understanding for the students, although lessening the work available from the previous semester. Some peer mentors have kept their role into Spring 2024, and express greater dissatisfaction with how the previous semester was run. Feedback within the program has been offered, and I hope that the sentiment extends to all students and staff with feedback for HR as well. Hopefully, the mentor program can still provide all they promised this campus and more moving forward. 



Sahtrese McQueen, Pace Chronicle News Editor


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