Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

The price is wrong: Augustana wages continue to be too low

Adam Miller

Augustana recently announced a 25-cent raise for on-campus student workers, which was followed by an increase in tuition cost. This decision raised questions about the timing of the wage increase. 

However, it is clear that students should receive a raise and that it should continue to go up until it reaches minimum wage, which in Illinois is $13 an hour. The 25-cent increase makes a difference to students because they are already being underpaid, but needs to continue to go up to minimum wage. 

The college is working to stay in a “stable financial position,” as detailed in the email sent to students Nov. 13 by Kirk Anderson, chief financial officer. But, the student worker raise is still worth it. Students should not be paid under minimum wage just because they work on campus. 

If the college cannot afford to pay students minimum wage as it is, there are alternative options, such as possibly having fewer job openings for students.

Augustana should also promote students working off-campus if there is not a budget to pay students minimum wage, as many fast-food restaurants close to campus advertise a starting pay that is above minimum wage. 

The career fair is a good start and offers students the chance to network with employers in the Quad City area. However, Augustana should provide more of these events and do more to promote its Career Resources department, such as advertising in the student bulletin. 

The low wages especially impact international students since they have no other option but to work on campus. 

Some students who bring cars on campus go to work off-campus, but not every student has that opportunity. Augustana considers itself a “walking campus,” meaning cars aren’t necessary to have on campus and many students don’t have cars. This means they are unable to commute to jobs off campus. 

Different jobs on campus could merit different levels of pay. Working in the library does not lead to the same amount of stress as working in the dining hall does. 

However, this option could lead to greater competition for students wanting higher-paying positions.

The timing of the raise was unexpected, even more so due to the cost of renovations outlined in the recent email. Some students were shocked by the combination of the wage and tuition increase, as tuition costs are already high.

Despite the cost of Augustana’s tuition, the college is still unable to pay students a fair wage for their work. 

This goes on top of the 10-hour work week limit on domestic students. Student workers are restricted on how many hours they can work an under-minimum-wage job on campus. 

How are students supposed to make a sufficient amount of money? 

For international students who cannot work off-campus, there is no other way to do it. 

They are taken advantage of by their inability to go anywhere else and not able to earn much money throughout the school year.

Domestic students who have a car have the advantage of driving somewhere else to work for a better-paying job, regardless of the inconvenience that it might cause for a student trying to balance work with classes and extracurricular activities.

Despite rising tuition costs, Augustana needs to provide fair wages for its student workers, as the current low wages take advantage of students who are unable to commute to opportunities elsewhere. The 25-cent raise is a step in the right direction, but the price is still not right.

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