Sam Verhulst – Columnist
My original plan for this column was to present my ideas on how to improve work study jobs. I had seen some people work hard to earn their $7.50, while others did very little and received the same pay. I had heard rumors of some students receiving increased pay for their work, while those providing important services for Dordt received far below market rates. These things made me upset.
However, after learning more about on-campus employment, my stance has changed. People are dedicated to providing employment opportunities for Dordt students, so instead of complaining about problems, I would like to explain a small amount of how the system
On-campus employment is divided into two sections: work-study and institutional work. Both types of work are connected with financial aid, but work-study receives a portion of their funding from the government, while institutional jobs are paid for entirely by Dordt. These institutional jobs are especially important because they allow for all non-U.S. students to have an on-campus job.
Dordt has made a large commitment to on-campus employment. Student employment coordinator Nancy Kingma said student employment now uses “more Dordt than federal money.” Dordt would probably love to give raises, but that is money coming straight out of the Dordt budget. As part of financial aid, the government does provide some of the funds for work-study. However, this is a lump fund, so the more students that Dordt employs, the more money that comes from Dordt’s pocket.
To make matters more complicated, Kingma added, “The government money has not been increased for awhile.” Despite this, Dordt employs about 750 students on-campus.
Dordt students currently receive $7.50 an hour for their services, 25 cents above the minimum wage. It is easy to say that many of the jobs on campus deserve higher pay. However, when you realize that a raise would come straight from the Dordt budget, adversely affecting tuition or other services, it becomes harder to justify. In order for Dordt to employ a large number of students, while keeping tuition reasonable, wages remain fairly low. Some people are lucky enough to receive an easy job, while others are forced to work harder. It’s not fair, but it is acceptable.
The one thing that remains a problem is wage discrepancy. If some jobs are paid more than $7.50 an hour, it signifies that payment is somehow connected to the value created by that job. This may work in a true economy, but in a controlled environment with limited resources such as Dordt, it cannot work. If team managers are paid more than teacher assistants, how can that be justified? Is one providing a more valuable service to Dordt?
Is there an opinion in all this? I think Dordt does a great job providing its students with on-campus work opportunities. Yes, it would be nice if wages were higher, but sadly that is the way they need to be: low and uniform.