Student workers on campus are underpaid.Last year’s student wage plan was a step to implement more competitive rates, but it’s still unclear what the next one will be, when it will come or how tall this staircase will really end up being.
It includes three tiers for wages that read like a list of cell phone plans outlined as follows: $9.25 an hour, the “wet socks” level, $10.25 an hour, the “frozen yogurt” level and $11.25 an hour, the “rain smell” level. These tiers have many other nicknames.
Most employment opportunities on campus fall into the frozen yogurt category, with some staff offering wet socks or rain smell level work based on how cool they are.
This may sound like the ideal wage policy, but it falls short.
The effective minimum wage in the area is $15 per hour (i.e. it’s how much my friend makes at the Farmer’s Market, so that’s the baseline), and it’s a rate that even the student workers in Goshen College’s Elite All-Star Deluxe Chocolatey-Covered Platinum tier do not get paid.
The reason people don’t find work elsewhere is that there are also many benefits that come with being a student worker at GC: hours are flexible, jobs are within walking distance, employees can develop skills applicable to future jobs and, in some cases, it’s a great way to become a teacher’s pet.
Because there are other reasons for students to seek out on-campus jobs, the college doesn’t have to allocate as much money to student labor.
And honestly, I have no problem with that.
This is the administrative faculty we’re dealing with. They work in the AD building, where even the first floor is above ground level so they can be further away from students, and I’d be willing to bet that GC as we know it would come to an end if its workers even thought about unionizing — this was probably the best we were going to get for a while.
However, as inflation rises and labor movements ignite across the country, more and more pressure will be placed on GC to pay their student workers more.
But I don’t think that GC should give into that pressure.
Instead, I suggest that they make their next step lengthening the list of benefits that comes with working for GC: they should start offering convocation credit to student workers.
Based on an implicit survey I’ve done during my two and a half years as a student here, I can say with certainty that a lot of students don’t really like going to convo or chapel.
No matter how moving they are — and some of them are very moving — a quarter of the people are always on their phones and attendance dwindles in the last month of the semester after everyone has their 10 swipes.
I feel for the students that sit there on their phones during convo, and with this change, they wouldn’t have to do it as often. It appears to get very tiresome based on how miserable they look when they’re doing it (especially when someone tries to get them to sing).
Furthermore, this change would also boost overall student employment for the college.
I’m thinking a good start would be one credit for every month worked, but it may need to increase to two per month as inflation rises. By my estimates they will then inevitably raise the quota to 15 swipes a semester and it will effectively become a work-study requirement.
Would this change be worth it for an endgame of students working odd jobs tirelessly just to get their diplomas instead of attending a vaguely religious gathering once a week?
I can name several students who would argue yes — probably because they won’t be here for that endgame.
Just the happy beginning where they would get to save 30 minutes a week by not engaging with the campus community.