Student Workers On Campus Demand Change

Several student workers continue to feel under-appreciated by Dickinson College and demand more recognition. Some workers were upset that the college did nothing during National Student Worker Appreciation Week on April 9 except give out the Student Employee of the Year (Erin Lowe ’23 of the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues) and Supervisor of the Year (Dick Forrester, Professor of Mathematics and Data Analytics) awards. Fiona Hannigan ’26, who works at the Juice Bar said, “It’s gotten to the point that I don’t really expect anything from the school.”

In response to the lack of care for student workers, Nadja Duricko ’26 started the Dickinson’s Worker’s Party Club, along with Jules Messitte ’26 and Larry VanDyke ’26. Duricko said, “The whole point of the club is to support the workers and create an inclusive environment for those who don’t have other resources here on campus to earn money to support themselves.” Duricko used to be a student worker and Soliana Yimtatu ’26 considered the opportunity, but they both referenced low wages and poor working conditions as their deciding factor to not work on campus. 

Yimtatu, who runs the Worker’s Party Club instagram account (@workerspartydson) said, “We want to work with the school. We want to make sure our club isn’t going against administration, because then no change is possible.”

“We want to cooperate with the school to kinda create a gradual plan to increase wages,” she said, and…improve working conditions as well, because we need to make sure they are satisfactory.”

The lowest wage range for Dickinson student workers is $7.50-$8.00 per hour, compared to Denim Coffee who pays $11.60 (plus tips) and the YMCA’s hourly rate which starts at $12 per hour. A graphic circulated by The Worker’s Party points out that the “living wage in Cumberland County, PA is $16.10 for an adult with 0 children.”

Hannigan agrees with Duricko and Yimtatu and can attest to the information provided by Dickinson’s Worker’s Party. She said, “I don’t think I make as much as I work and I don’t think all the jobs here are equal…I did dishes for four hours one time and I’m like ‘This is not worth the 30 dollars I’m being paid.’” 

Duricko pointed out that international students can only work on-campus. As their only option, the low pay puts students from other countries at an unfair disadvantage. Duricko explains that some of her friends are working under stressful conditions and grueling hours to buy a ticket for their flight home, on top of managing school work, relationships with family and friends and taking care of themselves. 

Yimtatu said of jobs on campus, “Students should have those resources [appropriate oven mitts, sponges without holes, soap dispensers that work properly]…We have a lot of international students in the club, including our club president. In school jobs are the only jobs that these kids can have. So, it’s indirectly affecting marginalized groups of people; low-income, international, etc. Us being in those areas socially opened our eyes.”

The Worker’s Party is looking for people, current or past student workers, for their Student Outreach Program, specifically those with good relationships with their supervisors, “So we can create a bond between not only student workers, but full time staff as well,” Yimtatu said. Duricko added “We cannot come in demanding to raise wages for student workers only and not support full time staff.”  

Duricko and Yimtatu hope to raise the pay for all student workers at Dickinson to $10 per hour. You can find their petition in the bio of the Worker’s Party Club instagram account (@workerspartydson), as well as additional information about wages on campus and other ways to support the efforts, such as their recent Mutual Aid Thrift Sale, which took place on April 14.