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GVSU students pushing for higher wages on campus

GVSU Allendale 10282023
Posted at 9:45 PM, Mar 07, 2023

ALLENDALE, Mich. — Students on campus at Grand Valley State University say, they’re simply not getting paid enough — and it's time for higher wages.

“Across the board everyone's tired, a lot of people have been working for two-plus years at this university with only a couple cents increase,” said Foster Thorburn, President of GVSU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America. The organization has been working with the Student Senate and others on campus to fight for higher wages for student workers.

“We've been campaigning around that policy push, so a lot of it has been collecting research, making arguments, collecting testimony from students,” said Thorburn.

GVSU students pushing for higher wages on campus

Through that research, they’ve found that many students struggle when it comes to paying for books, housing and even food.

“Food insecurity is a big problem here. There was a Lanthorn piece that got put out that had food insecurity here close to 30%, and general insecurity close to 50%, which are pretty big numbers,” said Thorburn.

The group is now hoping for an increase based on competitive wages for similar jobs in the area off campus.

“So that would be the functional equivalent of looking down Lake Michigan and our food service workers. They're making $15 an hour, then they should be making a similar amount on our campus,” said Thorburn.

We reached out to Grand Valley about the group’s concerns. In a statement, the university tells FOX 17:

“We are aware of the students’ concern regarding the wages for campus employment, and people in numerous areas of the university are actively reviewing all aspects of student employment. This issue is extremely important to us because we know that working on campus is directly tied to retention and career and learning opportunities. Vice President for student affairs Jenny Hall-Jones met with several students from the Young Democratic Socialists last week. They had a productive meeting, and Hall-Jones invited the students to participate in a work group created to address the topic.”

They add, many jobs on campus pay more than minimum wage depending on the job classifications.

The university says that less than 10% of students make minimum wage. The other students are actually making more than minimum wage, with the average on campus at $12.06

They say departments are encouraged to pay students higher wages whenever possible. A chart on their website shows wages from the fall semester of last year compared to this year. Each number represents classifications based on job duties, experience, skill level and supervision, which reflects the pay they receive depending on the work they complete for their department. The most common wages range from $10.85-$14.07.

Foster says, at the end of the day, he hopes student workers see competitive pay and better scheduling.

“Having more money in people's accounts gives them the opportunity to pay for things like food, pay for things like housing, to pay the bills that they have at this university, it generally lets them live a much better life,” said Thorburn.

The group has a petition with over a thousand signatures and a bill from the Student Senate for higher wages. It’s expected to be voted on in June.

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