The 2015 Student Body Wage Review survey closed on Monday, but many students are still wondering why the review happened in the first place. The poll explained that “the Wage Review Board is surveying the student body in order to gauge their financial needs and to better understand the work done by students who hold student body positions.” Are we to assume, then, that SB employees are unsatisfied with their current wages?
Vice-President Nick Fiore ’15 explained that the Wage Review happens every two years, however, as the various duties of SB employees have increased significantly over the last couple years this review is particularly important. This holds especially true for the Honor Council and Judicial Board. Members of these committees are working some 15-20 hour weeks and only getting paid approximately $4.00 an hour on average. Fiore explains, “Ten years ago on J-Board, you weren’t doing much. The stipends were the college’s way of saying, ‘we appreciate what you do,’ but now the J-Board time commitment has rapidly increased, and this also applies to Senate.”
In other words, the stipends used to be symbolic. You weren’t supposed to be motivated to apply to SB positions for the money; and on some level, this is still very much the case. However, given the increase in workloads, these positions require considerable time and emotional energy for students who genuinely care about the student body.
Gary Granger, who has seen a drastic increase in the amount of sexual assault and Title IX cases, says that “the students [he] know[s] on the J-Board do a monumental amount of work on intense, emotionally draining, and complicated cases.” J-Board co-chair Evvy Archibald ’16 adds, “It is my understanding that we’ve lost some potentially valuable applicants because of the poor pay and heavy time commitment.”
Another critical issue of the current SB employee pay-rate is that it discourages applicants from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Simply put, many students do not have much of a choice when it comes between working for the college at an hourly rate versus working a SB position for an incredibly low stipend. The stress of being a SB employee and a Reed employee—and not to mention, a full time student —is not feasible for many of us. Unless, of course, you’re one of those Reedies who prefer napping in the SU over sleeping in your bed, cigarettes over meals, and roll-on deodorant over showers.
Reed College employees have several distinct advantages over SB employees; they are paid an hourly wage, which in Oregon is relatively high, and they can choose how many hours a week they want to work, not to mention that a low-level job from the college tends to look better on a resume than a low-level job from the student body. Additionally, due to the discrepancy between hourly wage and a stipend, students who work for the college are compensated for their time directly, whereas a student employed by the student body may put in extra hours and still receive the same stipend.
As Wage Review coordinator Mitchell Linegar ’17 told the Grail, these SB pay rates “do not reflect the level of time, effort, or emotional commitment for many of the concerned [SB] positions.”
In light of the Wage Review, former Student Body President Danielle Juncal ’15 adds, “Students should realize that the wages in a Student Body position—even if you're student body president or chair of the Judicial Board—will never match that of a part-time job. Oregon minimum wage is $9.25 per hour, and there is no way the student body could afford to pay that much for any student position.” Furthermore, she explains, “If you choose to work for the student body instead of finding a part-time job, you are choosing lower pay. Not everyone can afford to make that decision. It's still a job with real responsibilities and rigor, but at the end of the day you do volunteer some of your time and energy away when you could be spending it elsewhere.”
Kathryn Loucks ’17, a new Judicial Board member this semester, agrees, “I consider my position on J-Board as a job, certainly. It’s a job that I care deeply about and devote a lot of time and emotion towards. As a result, it’s almost impossible for me to hold another ‘job’ concurrently.”
The overall consensus of our Student Body seems to be that there needs to be more reciprocity in the system. Working for the Student Body should be a rewarding experience, both fiscally and emotionally. The Wage Review Board will be assessing the poll results in the coming weeks, and will hopefully be able to persuade the administration of the necessity of an increase in SB stipends.