Low pay doesn’t always deter students from on-campus jobs


Junior communications studies major Alex McNulty and junior physical therapy major John Kamau work at Asian Express on Feb. 3. Photo by Grace Jelinek.

Christina Suttles

While the university currently employs thousands of students, an overwhelming number of them hold entry level positions — though some students don’t mind.

Nearly 82 percent of students hired by the university maintain low paying entry level positions, while less than 4 percent of student employees are paid top wages. There are currently 4,133 students employed by the university, a majority of which make less than $10,000 annually.

While the university offers a variety of options to those looking for an on-campus job, wages are entirely dependent on skill level and specialization.

Student wages, which are decided by the heads of each department, are categorized into three divisions: Entry Level, Intermediate Level and Highly Specialized Level.

“Departments have the latitude to determine [rate of pay] based on loose guidelines to decide where they feel their student employee fits,” Ami Hollis, associate director of Career Services said. “They can go higher or lower based on the job requirements, level of expertise and the knowledge and skills that the student brings to the job.”

Entry Level positions require a minimal amount of prior knowledge or work experience and include clerical, food service and custodial work as well as help desk workers, lab assistants and ticket attendants.

The rate of pay for Entry Level positions is from $7.70 to $10.70 per hour, though 2,300 are paid minimum wage, which was recently increased 30 cents this year. This means that more than half of the number of students employed by the university earn minimum wage.

Among those in highest demand are Dining Services and Library and Information services. Dining Services employs over 1,000 students annually mainly due to 24/7 hour establishments.

Racara Sawyer is a sophomore public health major who works in the coffee shop in the main library.

”I probably work 22 hours at the max,” Sawyer said. “This is my only job, and I’m a full time student. I get paid $7.70 an hour, and I think that’s a decent wage for working at a coffee shop, besides the fact that we can’t get tips which I don’t really understand.”

The student employment office believes that student wages are high enough that students shouldn’t need tips.

“Students are paid the state mandated minimum wage, and it’s university policy that student’s must not receive tips,” Hollis said.

The 3.2 percent of students working in the Highly Specialized sector include computer technicians, flight instructors, researchers, student managers and web designers. This category consists mostly of graduate students and students who have had years of experience in their field.

The rate of pay for Highly Specialized workers is $8.70 to $13.70 per hour.

“I’ve worked here for a few months, part-time, and I don’t mind the work,” an anonymous parking services employee said. “I’m paid $9.00 an hour, which I know I’m lucky to earn considering those who work for so much less, but I do think that I deserve the wage I make.”

Those stuck in the intermediate level encompass many of the job descriptions of the other two levels with varying degrees of experience. They earn anywhere from $8.10 to $12.10 per hour.

Hollis said a student’s ability to be promoted and earn more money is entirely dependent on level of experience and qualifications. It’s possible that students will earn raises based on work ethic.

Contact Christina Suttles at [email protected].