Student-workers across Dickinson College are complaining of their pay and the conditions they work under. Signs have been hung up across campus telling of low wages and frustrations, and student-workers themselves have become more vocal, alongside their fellow classmates, about how they feel ignored by the school. One student-worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, decided to speak to The Dickinsonian about what it is like to work at this institution. This is the student’s unedited testimony:
“I’m a student employee in the library, working for $7.50 an hour. This is my second year here, and I love my job. I’ve worked in libraries for the last many years, both volunteer and paid, and I’m confident in my professional skills. Working at Waidner-Spahr is exciting and challenging, and I love being able to help my peers. My coworkers are lovely, and I genuinely enjoy being there with them.
But I don’t know how much longer I can work for such little wages. I’m passionate about the work I do, but my pay rate tells me Dickinson sees me as expendable. How am I supposed to feel motivated when I’m being paid pennies? The work I’m doing is specialized, but you wouldn’t guess that based on my wage. I’ve been working in this field since I was a teenager, and yet, I could get paid more if I walk down the street and apply to Giant. I feel disrespected and ignored.
No one can survive off of $7.50 an hour. How am I supposed to pay for textbooks and school supplies with this? On top of that, Dickinson hasn’t provided us with any masks, so a lot of my income is going towards buying protective gear. Dickinson asks me to work at least six hours – on top of four classes and extracurriculars. I barely have time to do my homework, let alone be able to pay for my basic needs. Not to mention how much food I’m buying out of pocket because of the unsafe crowding in Dining Services.
Dickinson couldn’t run without its student employees; whether we’re in the library, Dining Services, academic departments, or in administrative offices. They think they can get away with paying us poverty wages and that we’ll just roll over. Well, we’re tired of rolling over. We want a living wage. We want student employees to be respected and valued.
I know the problems facing student employees aren’t just limited to us, either. Long hours, poor pay, and lack of respect affect full time and part time staff too. It’s time for student employees, staff, and faculty to stand up together. We’re facing the same fight. We are done with you, Dickinson. We deserve more.”