Campus jobs should pay more

The student who wrote this would like to remain anonymous because they do not want to alienate their bosses.

You’ve heard the stereotype: broke college student seeks a job on campus to have spending money. Sounds like a great solution, right? They’re flexible with your class schedule, are within walking distance, and you’re able to work together with other students. Except there’s one problem: the inadequate pay. 

The starting pay on campus varies per job. Many receive a stipend, while others receive an hourly rate. Many students receiving an hourly rate feel their pay isn’t equal to the amount of work they put in. For instance, the dining services position(s). As a worker for dining services, the starting rate for all positions within the department is $9.75 an hour, and a $0.25 raise every year the student remains employed. This already feels inadequate for what has been a severely understaffed field as of late, especially when students from states like New Jersey have the opportunity to make more given the state minimum wage which is $12.00/hour when living at home. The kicker? This isn’t even the lowest paying job(s) on campus. According to Handshake, an online recruiting platform where students can apply for on-campus jobs, there are other positions that pay even lower than $9.75. For instance, the Film Studies assistant pays $9.00/hour and the pay for multiple positions isn’t even visible to applicants. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, had several various positions on campus and commented that none of the various pay rates have been sufficient enough to cover any expenses. “Especially compared to when I make minimum wage in New Jersey, none of the positions have been paying enough. And now, the work required in dining services doesn’t feel equal to the pay rate.” This student plans to find an off-campus job to cover some personal expenses since the pay rate and 20 hour per week maximum isn’t supplemental. 

Another student, whose identity would like to remain unknown, who had previously worked at Phonathon and then became employed at Cafe 2020 mentioned that the rate they received was about the same at both jobs, but felt significantly inadequate when they switched to the cafe. “The workload and stress caused by the rush of customers, constantly performing tasks, and often being understaffed should definitely merit an increase in the wage. I wasn’t doing as much at the Phonathon, so the rate made sense, but my job at the Cafe is a lot more demanding.” 

Similar sentiments have been expressed by students who work for campus safety. Between the tasks performed and times they are scheduled, the hourly rate should be raised to something reflective of time and effort. This is especially true considering the fact that jobs like these are add-ons to being a full time college student. It’s evident working takes up a significant amount of time and students could be using that time to work on their course load and get involved with extracurriculars. These positions aren’t summer jobs; they are extra work to supply necessary funds. 

This isn’t to say on-campus jobs should pay more than off campus employment, but it should at least be comparable. Students shouldn’t be making more per hour at their summer job than the more demanding jobs they work in their limited free time as a student. Additionally, there should be more opportunities for a raise. $0.25 a year ends up being a total of $0.75 if you begin working freshman year, which most students aren’t able to achieve since adjusting to college life takes up a majority of their time. There are few other opportunities for students to obtain a raise or a position change, especially in dining services, where Sodexo workers hold the higher-up positions. A relatively low starting rate would be more understandable if there were additional chances to work up to a higher, more sustainable hourly rate. 

To reiterate, no student expects on-campus employment to be as high-paying as a full-time job. However, it isn’t too much to expect them to be sustainable for the students putting in extra time and effort just to cover their textbooks.