I, like many other students, was excited to hear that the minimum wage was set to rise to $10 when I returned back to school in the Fall. The previous $8.85 did not cut it, and it was relieving to see that I would finally be paid a bit more—except my fellow student workers and I weren’t. Upon arriving to campus in August, my supervisor explained to me that my wage actually would not be increasing, because the new legislation exempts universities from the raises.
The logic behind leaving college students out is that we are hardly taxed. While I do notice and appreciate the difference between the amount taken out in my paychecks here rather than my summer job, I still don’t think this is a sufficient reason to exempt universities from paying college students the full minimum wage.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NJ.COM
Many students on campus are working to support themselves in a variety of ways—whether it's to pay their tuition, save up to pay off the tens of thousands of dollars they are accumulating in student loans, pay for rent, food or any other necessities. I think the assumption is that, for many, college serves as an “in-between” stage of life, one where they are granted freedom without the full responsibilities, financial or other, of adulthood. But for a plethora of students, including many that I know on Drew’s campus, this is not the reality. Hypothetically, on-campus jobs are supposed to help these students specifically. Federal work-study is granted to them so that they can work on campus in an environment that is understanding to the struggle of balancing academics and work, and easy to access if they do not have a car. But, if students are not able to make enough money at these jobs, they will be forced to go off-campus for better employment opportunities, completely ridding them of the support system that could be provided to them at an on-campus job. This is not even to mention that international students are not allowed to work off campus.
Not everyone has a family to support them when they run out of money or to help out with tuition or other costs, and the least that could be done is an increase to a $10 or $11 dollar minimum wage to help them support themselves further. On-campus jobs are meant to help these students, but if they can make more money elsewhere, then many students will have no choice but to work off campus.