Student Government column
Editor’s Note: Dominique Escandon is the Cabinet Writer of The Student Government.
The rising cost of education in America and, for our purposes, at Carnegie Mellon has left many students feeling increasingly unstable in their financial standing. Definitive measures can be taken to alleviate monetary stresses, such as applying for scholarships or reassessing budgets, but another frequently visited solution is on-campus employment.
Being a student worker was a need, not a choice, for me. My first year as a Desk Service Assistant was marked with bleary-eyed entrances at 8 a.m., having already been awake for five hours at that point to work a 4 to 8 a.m. “graveyard” shift which allowed me to earn a special $9/hr instead of $7.25/hr. While I was and am so grateful to have been able to work, I would have benefited from a more regular sleep schedule. However, I needed the extra pay in order to afford my necessities (textbooks, tuition, etc.), and didn’t want to sacrifice five hours under regular wage during my day when I could be using that time to attend extra credit lectures or study group meetings. This wasn’t an easy decision, and despite the fact that I would frequently take on more of these “graveyard” shifts for a bigger paycheck, I still struggle financially. I know I am not alone.
However, especially when compared to the respective minimum student wages at peer institutions with comparable endowments, such as Georgetown University (with an endowment of $1.53 billion and minimum wage set at $11/hr per D.C. law), we might feel like we are alone in how our university regards what a living wage within a college schedule really is. Thankfully, change is in the works. Notably, a significant push for raising the minimum wage came from Evan Wineland of the Information System Class of 2015. During his run for Student Body President, Evan identified increasing student wages as one of three main initiatives to his campaign. Shortly after the issue was brought to the main stage of the Carnegie Mellon community, the Division of Student Affairs (DoSA) raised their minimum wage to $7.75, effective this school year.
In matters pertaining to the main intention of this column, Student Government actively chooses to pay its workers above the DoSA standard, at $8.75/hr, and encourages other organizations to meet this goal. It’s so important to lead by example, and we choose this wage because we think it indicates a greater appreciation of the work being done under these jobs, and allows students to indulge in their work with less hesitation of if they can afford to do so.
Here is the main takeaway: individual students can produce incredible change. We live through the student experience, we confront its respective challenges and rewards every day, and most of us have ideas on what could be improved within student life at Carnegie Mellon. The importance of discussing the challenges we face, or the ideas we have lies in the school’s active reception of these issues and its precedent in reacting to suggestions. Why not try to speak about what you think would make Carnegie Mellon University better?