Opinion: Dining Hall and Wages

With the recent email  from President John E. Jones III  describing the  “herculean effort” the dining staff has been putting in, many students, including myself, have begun to wonder: should they have to be putting in this much work?

It is not a secret that a large proportion of the dining staff are first year students on federal work study financial aid. The lack of student workers in the dining hall is not a reason to create a clear distinction between first year students who need financial aid, and those who don’t. 

Nora Stocovaz ’25, who worked in dining services her freshman year, said “when you walk into that dining hall, the first week, everyone who is working there in their bright red shirts and bright red hats is on federal work study” she clarified that “it’s a huge labeling system that identifies information about students that they might feel sensitive about.” It not only forces students to work in an extremely stressful situation, it announces their financial status to the whole school.

An easy remedy for the lack of students working in the dining hall? Pay your workers more. How about an across the board statement, that regardless of employment on campus: Pay all your students more. If last year you could afford to give every student $150 for Uber Eats and Doordash, you have the money to pay all the student workers on campus a fair and livable wage.

Let’s do some math for a second. According to Dickinson College quick facts, there are 2,100 full time students attending Dickinson. If you add the $150 per semester students received last year, it would have cost the school about $630,000 to make up for the dining hall disaster. This number does not include the cost of last year’s food trucks which could not have been inexpensive. 

The increase of wages from $8.50 to $10 over the summer for student workers in dining services demonstrates that Dickinson has the capacity to increase wages. It’s simply a fact, they are choosing not to.

The buffet style served for yourself was fine for the first couple weeks. The large sign at Union Station claiming the reason for grab and go was training was understandable for the first month. However as we pass the 25% of the semester mark, many have begun to wonder, how much of this is permanent? President Jones’ email seems to imply there is  no clear end in sight.