Hourly pay for on-campus student jobs should be adjusted

Student jobs at Keene State College need to provide a livable wage if the school wants to continue utilizing student workers.

The college currently pays most student employees between $8 and $12/hr depending on a tiered classification. Level 1, which includes jobs such as gallery monitors and mail clerks, average around $8-$9/hr. Level 2, which includes lab monitors and group fitness instructors, make an average of $9-10 dollars. Level 3, which includes senior or “head” roles and grant funded positions, make $10-$12/hr.

While The Equinox doesn’t see a problem with the tiered system, the wages and breakdown of roles should be altered.

Throughout the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, the school brought in the idea of desk assistants (DAs) who checked student IDs and wristbands as people entered residence halls. The pay for this position was beyond the pay of many of the other jobs, as much as $15/hr. The $15/hr pay was for students who worked at the desk overnight. However, most of the students had the ability to do homework or hang out with friends while at the desk. This means they were getting paid almost twice what other jobs get paid to do something they would have normally been doing anyway. Their role was important for the safety of the campus during COVID-19, but was it the most valuable student job on campus?

To juxtapose this, peer tutors and research and writing tutors get paid, on average, $8-9/hr. These students are actively working with their peers to help them achieve their goals in their classes and maintain a positive academic environment on campus. The research and writing tutors are required to take a semester-long, four credit class to do their job. The tiers of how much the positions get paid needs to take into account prior training that needs to be had.

However, regardless of the amount of training or nature of the job, all students deserve a wage that could be considered liveable. Students often find themselves at off-campus jobs that do not take into consideration their commitment to education purely because they need to pay rent and buy groceries and save money for the next semester’s tuition. Local corporations pay $12, $14, even $15/hr, and that is hard for students to pass up. Having an on-campus job can be extremely beneficial because of the employers understand that students have other extracurriculars and a full load of classes, but students opt out of it because it is not financially sustainable. Students’ time is valuable and this needs to be accounted for in terms of pay.

Keene State College is not solely at fault for the low wages, though. The minimum wage in N.H. is $7.25/hr, which is also the federal minimum wage. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this has not been changed since 2009. This is entirely unreasonable considering how much the world has changed in the past 12 years. It is time for the U.S. to change the federal minimum wage to accommodate the cost of living. In the long run, this will help students because even if they are making minimum wage, it will still be enough to pay necessary bills.

The Equinox proposes that the college meets with each student on-campus job and use that conversation to delegate the tiers of pay. They need to hear from advisors and students about how much training and work goes into something instead of making assumptions that could leave certain jobs feeling underappreciated. While this might not be a long-term fix to underpaid students, it might easy some financial concerns that weigh heavily on young people these days.

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