Campus workers had a pleasant surprise when they got their paychecks from Goshen College on Wednesday: an extra dollar for each hour they had worked this month. The college-wide raise, placed in effect this pay-period, bumped the rate for all student workers making minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour.The change was meant to award competency in student workers and boost the longevity of their employment. It was initiated by a committee made up of Tom Stuckey, interim vice president of finance; Paul Housholder, director of ITS; Juliaclare Plezbert, head softball coach; Fritz Hartman, library director; Cynthia Good Kaufmann, director of events; and David Kendall, director of career networks.
“The first step was getting everybody to $8.25,” Tom Stuckey said. “It takes a while to train a student, so if that student returns, we’re looking at a second step.”
The second step will be allowing select student employees who already make more than $8.25 to make even more based on a set of criteria. The committee’s next task is to create job descriptions and then evaluate each job and determine if they warrant an increase in pay based on responsibilities or longevity. This is still in the works, meaning that students who already make more than $8.25 will continue to make the same amount until their position is evaluated.
“Part of our template will be holding leadership and skilled positions in parallel,” Stuckey said. “You can’t say that just because you supervise someone you should get paid more. What actually is that supervisory responsibility?”
The increase in pay was something that had been talked about for a couple of years, but it became a top priority in the midst of the national labor shortage.
“There were certain departments that were having more difficulty getting student workers,” Stuckey said.
Students who have the option are often more likely to look off-campus for employment where they can make twice as much.
This is not the case for every student, however; for many, on-campus positions are their only option.
“In some ways, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work,” said Silas Immanuel, an international student from Dehli, India. “But at the same time, the other day I worked a 13-hour shift and made, like 80 bucks, which, when you start thinking about it, will go away fast.”
Most international students have no choice but to work on campus, because United States visa rules do not allow them to take off-campus positions.
“It sucks to go to McDonald’s and see 15 bucks an hour [as a starting salary],” Immanuel said. “I’ve been working in ITSMedia, which is very specialized and technical, and all that we get is the vague promise of $10 an hour somewhere in the future when the college decides it needs us.”
For the committee, international students were a factor in the process of bumping up the pay.
“That was an important consideration,” Stuckey said. “I’m not sure how the committee individually weighed [international students] but we were certainly conscious of it.”
“I think [the pay increase] is actually pretty cool,” Immanuel said. “A dollar makes a huge difference, it’s great that the college is doing something like that.”
“A lot of times, committees don’t move things forward as rapidly as they could,” said Stuckey. “This committee just went to work and we got things done and it was very smooth. We said right from the beginning that this is just the first step.”