On Sunday, April 3rd, the Wesleyan Student Assembly introduced a resolution to gradually raise the minimum wage for Wesleyan Students to $15/hour over the next three years. This plan to raise student wages exists within the context of the national movement to increase the minimum wage. Just last week, New York State and California announced plans to raise their minimum wages to $15/hour. Within the last year, Columbia University and New York University raised their minimum student wages to $15/hour, and currently Barnard College is pursuing the same goal. We at Wesleyan believe our school should be a microcosm of the world we wish to inherit. This resolution not is not only practical, but a bold way to help students at Wesleyan.
Currently 46% of the Wesleyan student body is on financial aid and roughly 1,000 students participate in federal work-study on campus. Unfortunately, many work-study students are overworked and cut off from full participation in the Wesleyan experience. Students usually work eight to ten hours a week, but some work far more. Many undergraduates tend to work 8-10 hours per week, but many work up to 20 hours per week and some even more. To work so many hours and handle a full course load, puts enormous strain on a student’s time--Coursework, social life, mental and physical well being, and participation in student activities all suffer when students devote up to 20 hours per week for their Work Study jobs. In addition to paying tuition, students use money from work-study jobs to buy textbooks, pay medical expenses, pay for costs and needs during school breaks, save money for the future, aid family, and cover a variety of everyday necessities.
The minimum wage increase will enable students to work fewer hours and make more money, while also freeing up students’ schedules considerably. It aims to bridge the gap between low-income and affluent students. When work-study students have to work fewer hours, they can participate more in campus life and in the many opportunities Wesleyan has to offer.
To fund the proposal, we plan to tap into available funds and redistribute money to prioritize this gradual wage increase. It is important to note that although funding will have to increase to support this proposal, the increase is not as significant as it appears. Many work-study eligible Wesleyan students currently do not work on-campus jobs, nor do they meet their full allotment of federal aid––usually $1,375 per semester. Therefore, the increased minimum wage would enable Wesleyan to take greater advantage of awards offered by the federal government.
The proposed legislation focuses on students receiving federal work study and those receiving term-time employment. In the interest of equity, employers will be expected to continue prioritizing work-study students. However, this wage increase will apply to all students employed on campus. We foresee this legislation allowing more students to enter the Wesleyan workforce.
Here is the link to the resolution.
Discussion and voting on this resolution will happen in the WSA Senate Meeting on Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 6:00PM in 41 Wyllys, Room 114. We invite all community members to come and voice their opinions on this matter.