Minimum Wage Increases for Campus Employment

by Haley Burnside, Senior Writer

The minimum wage for campus employment went up to 15 dollars an hour on the first for 2019. The increase, which has been a hot topic of discussion among student government and the administration alike for the past year, has drawn mixed reviews from the students themselves due to confusion about how their overall income will be affected in the midst of the wage increase and shorter work hours.

The official minimum wage increase to 15 dollars per hour went into effect under the current student body president Jaycie Cooper, but she is quick to explain that the credit goes to her predecessor.

“The Bishop administration were solely responsible for drafting and creating the minimum wage resolution. It was voted on and passed in both the assembly and in the Senate,” said Cooper.

Under the Bishop administration of student government, the increase in minimum wage for campus employment jobs was added to the agenda after being initially proposed by government professor Margaret Groarke.

Groarke sees the matter in a simple way. She believes that this increase in minimum wage for on-campus employment positions is an important action for the administration to take.

“Students work to earn money to cover their expenses, and thus I think they deserve to be paid a fair wage. If Manhattan College students earn less working on campus than working at a local store, they will leave campus jobs for off-campus jobs,” said Groarke in an e-mail statement.

Though this increase sounds beneficial to the student workers, it may not be as positive as it appears.

Some student workers have complained about their hours being cut in the new year.  Some students have reported only a thirty minute difference in their hours from the past semester, while others have seen more drastic changes. The administrators in charge of scheduling have done this so that the departments do not go over their respective budgets.

The Center for Academic Success (CAS) is one of the departments that limited employee’s hours. Sujey Ramos, the director of CAS, explained how the department approached scheduling under the new minimum wage.

“Whether a student is making more or less than before the minimum wage increase was not most important to us. What was crucial was that no one lost their jobs, and that Manhattan College students continued to have adequate academic support, and we are happy to report that we’re delivering on both,” said Ramos.

Ramos stated that, though there were obstacles, the department did not need to cut the staff or reduce the hours that students could access the CAS.

“Not one student worker was laid off. But we still had to make sacrifices. We made slight cuts to the hours of students who were not directly involved in core educational services such as tutoring and we slightly altered our hours of operations,” said Ramos.

Through this adjustment, Ramos emphasized that the CAS was primarily focused on considering the department’s mission.

“For my department, please know that decisions regarding student hours were not made lightly. We’ve spent considerable time examining alternatives, analyzing data and crunching numbers to distribute hours in a way that serves everyone’s needs,” said Ramos.

The budgets for student employment are apart of the budget for the department for which the student is employed, meaning that the limitations and regulations of hours may vary from job to job. Denise Scalzo, the director of the financial aid department, explained how this works.

“Each student eligible for work study is allocated 1500 for that, and then based on their department’s budget we can increase that allocation,” said Scalzo.

In the end, all the students working jobs through federal work study will make the same amount of money that they would have made before the increase. As a result, Groarke sees this increase to be a positive.

“College Employment and Federal Work Study students can only earn a set amount of money per year, noted in their financial aid package. If they work fewer hours to reach that amount of money, that seems like an advantage to the student,” said Groarke. “If the college needs student workers to perform certain tasks, they will need to budget more money to pay those students over time.”

According to Scalzo, these changes will not affect the number of work study positions available.

“Right now we have around 500 jobs on campus, and we have close to 600 students on work study. We are always looking to grow that program for students, which in turn the school can use as a recruitment and retention tool,” said Scalzo.

Scalzo also explained the efforts that her department is making to further improve the way that campus employment operates for students.

“On July 1, the College will switch to online submissions for timesheets. We have heard the student’s request this so that it is more accessible so we implemented it and it will officially go into effect this year,” said Scalzo.