UDC students not paid for work at aquatics center

The UDC pool. (Photo: WJLA)

A ribbon cutting was supposed to mark a new beginning for the University of the District of Columbia's natatorium.

The aquatics center underwent a multi-million dollar renovation to reopen late last year.

Student Jerrah Harrison was hired as a lifeguard. He says he was going to use some of the money to pay his tuition.

While he showed up as scheduled in November and worked for about a month, he says he hasn’t been paid since.

“I was expecting a nice check to come in,” he says.

And he's not alone. The university acknowledges eight employees, many students working, were not paid for the hours they spent working at the pool.

Athletic director Patricia Thomas blames the pool payment problems on the UDC bureaucracy.

“The university process for paying workers, particularly student workers, changed unbeknownst to me,” she says. “I'm embarrassed about it and I deeply regret it. I understand the hardship especially in this fiscal climate.”

While the university has spent months trying to get the paperwork right, the aquatic center has reduced its hours because it only has one paid employee now.

City Council chair Phil Mendelson learned of the situation from ABC7’s 7 On Your Side after the UDC failed to respond to inquiries from another councilmember's office.

He released the following statement:

This is the first I have heard of this problem. Unfortunately, this is embarrassing to the University; there should never be an incident where employees – let alone lifeguards – are left unpaid. I’m sure your attention to this will force a resolution, and I will ask University officials about this at an upcoming oversight hearing.

UDC says the checks are being cut today.

“This is a mistake, we fully admit it, we take responsibility for it, we are doing everything we possibly can to make these individuals whole and this never happens again,” said Alan Etter, UDC vice president of University Relations.

Harrison will believe it when the money is finally in his hands.