Minimum wage resolution remains in limbo after unanimous student government vote last April

Student government unanimously passed the minimum wage resolution last April to raise the minimum wage of students employed by Lafayette from $7.25 to $10 an hour, but it has yet to be recognized by the college administration. The Equity and Inclusion Committee of Student Government first made the proposal to increase the minimum wage on campus in the spring of 2019.

“The overall goal of the campus minimum wage resolution is to improve the experiences of all student workers, and the impact that having a job can have on your grades, involvement, mental health, and more,” said Alisha Ghai ’20, president of student government, in an email. “We would hope that students working for a higher wage wouldn’t have to work long hours during the week, which would cause them to miss out on club involvement opportunities, SI sessions, and more.”

After the proposal passed, they planned to discuss the plan with the president’s cabinet and the senior staff. Discussions about the resolution were to occur over the past summer so action could be taken in the fall. However, President Alison Byerly wrote in an email that “The Student Employment Working Group has not yet completed its work,” and they are “awaiting their recommendations.”

Last May, Byerly told The Lafayette that the administration would “spend time over the summer analyzing how the resolution will relate to other goals for student employment,” as there has been discussion about looking “more strategically at the student employment process” at Lafayette. These discussions included possibly adding new jobs on campus and evaluating if a work-study job could be considered an internship, Byerly said.

Vice President for Campus Life Anette Diorio has been involved in exploring the proposal with other members of the administration on the Student Employment Working Group. Byerly appointed this group of staff and students to explore the proposal, with input from faculty and with Diorio as the chairman of this group. The group has met twice all together and separately in smaller subgroups.

“Understanding the role of student on-campus employment, in helping students gain valuable work experience and mentoring opportunities in addition to vehicles for earning money is critical,” Diorio said. “From an equity perspective, it is important that we understand the impact of the number of hours students work on their overall experiences on campus. The minimum wage proposal helped to illuminate some of those issues.”

The initial proposal was made last March. Former Director of the Equity and Inclusion Committee Fray Familia ’20 was instrumental in writing the original proposal, which was signed Ghai. Eduardo Rodriguez Gomez ’22, the Director of the Equity and Inclusion Committee last semester, was involved in drafting the original resolution that passed through student government.

“Our original goal was to have the college raise the campus minimum wage overall, but focus on students that have a work-study job,” Gomez said. “These students depend on their work-study jobs to cover part of the cost of attending Lafayette.”

The proposal was drafted with various groups of underrepresented students on campus, Gomez said.

“The students from underprivileged backgrounds often have to stretch themselves too thin to be able to keep up with everything going on in their lives,” Gomez said. “Increasing the minimum wage would buy them some extra time that could be used for the typical ‘college student activities’ by lowering the number of hours and jobs they need to work to be able to be financially stable.”

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