Student employees need to be paid a living wage

Being a college student is a big commitment for its unique balancing act of academics, work, and personal time.

I know many students who have little personal time due to being overwhelmed by academics. But even more overwhelming is work.

I know many students who have little personal time due to being overwhelmed by academics. But even more overwhelming is work.

Many students have bills to pay: Rent. Groceries. Car payments. Tuition. Healthcare. And more.

In today’s economy, those expenses take out a big chunk from every paycheck.

It would seem there is a certain appeal to working on campus as a student employee.

You can network with others and possibly even work in a department that aligns with your career goals.

It may be easier to fit the job into your schedule as you can go to class and work on the same day at the same location.

However, unfortunately, the pay of on-campus employment is a deterrent. Michigan’s minimum wage is set at $10.10 an hour.

Many businesses, especially fast food restaurants, are paying more than that though; several area McDonald’s advertise $15 an hour.

These businesses are paying more in response to worker demands that previous lower wages weren’t enough; and indeed, they weren’t.

Though they still have a way to go so workers can better provide for themselves, it is promising to see an improvement.

A quick search on SVSU’s career database Handshake reveals that, with a few exceptions, many SVSU on campus jobs are hiring at just $10.65 an hour.

For a student who has life expenses to cover, such a wage won’t cut it.

Consider that rent alone for a 1 bedroom apartment is often at least around $700 a month. That doesn’t even factor in gas for travel expenses, groceries to eat, healthcare costs, insurance payments, tuition and books, and more.

A student working on campus then, at the maximum of 20 hours per week at $10.65/hour, only makes $213.00 a week before tax. In a month, they only make $852.00.

Clearly, that is not enough to support themselves. As a result, students are often forced to pick up a second job elsewhere.

This can lead to increased stress and anxiety as students tack on another commitment so they can simply provide for themselves.

While the average hourly wage of student employees around the state is difficult to pinpoint, it seems to fall between $10.50/hour and $11.80/hour.

Some colleges, though, have higher rates of pay for student employees.

According to the 2023 Student Job Description pdf located on Michigan State University’s (MSU’s) website, minimum pay rates range from $10.10/hour to $22.47/hour depending on the job. Maximum pay rates for each job are also listed, ranging from $16.05/hour to $89.27/hour.

Furthermore, the University of Michigan (UofM) is raising their minimum wage to $15/hour. This applies to all three of their campuses– Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint.

The $15/hour minimum wage has already taken effect on the Ann Arbor campus. Currently, the minimum wage on UofM’s Dearborn and Flint campuses is $13/hour, but it will reach $15/hour starting Fall of 2023.

Wages such as those take an important step in the right direction to help students take care of themselves while going to school.

Universities should be taking the lead to promote higher wages for students.

Many students are providing for themselves and need a steady and livable wage so they can continue attending college.

Additionally, student employees are a critical asset in the functioning of a university; think about how many positions students fill as tutors, dining service employees, assistants, maintenance workers, interns, and more.

They should be compensated for the significant role they play in keeping universities running.

If universities want to promote academic focus and cognitively healthy students the way they claim to, then they should provide.a higher, livable wage for their student employees.

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