The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.
With tuition rates increasing every year and the disconnect between the cost of living and minimum wage growing, it’s no wonder more than 2,000 students work on campus at Murray State.
Financial aid can only help so much. Students find themselves looking for financial support in other ways and approximately 20 percent of us seek that support on campus.
The University does a good job of offering a lot of options for students looking for on-campus employment. Housing, Dining Services, academic departments, libraries and The Murray State News are just a few of the places that seem to always be hiring.
However, while the opportunities for on-campus employment are many, the opportunities for adequate income are few.
Murray State has set a limit for the amount of hours a student worker can be paid for, with some exceptions.
Dining Services student workers make $7.35 and student managers can be approved to work 25 hours at a rate of $8.35 per hour.
Most student workers, however, are only allowed to be paid for 20 hours a week at the state-designated minimum wage, $7.25, regardless of the job’s skill level, job requirements and the amount of work that is actually put forth by the worker.
A biweekly paycheck with minimum wage and on a 20-hour limit caps out at a meager $264.66, after taxes.
You will notice we keep using the phrase “paid for” instead of “work” or “earn.”
Some jobs require you to come in, clock in, do your job and clock out.
Other jobs set a base salary of a certain number of hours per week that you get paid for regardless of how much or how hard you actually work.
Why the discrepancy? How do we change it?
According to a U.S. Census report, more than half of college students work more than 20 hours a week, and one in five students work a minimum of 35 hours a week.
Yes, we come to Murray State to learn and invest in our academic success. School comes first, having the money to pay our monthly Netflix bill comes second.
Twenty hours of part-time work allows for spending money and time for school work, but what if you have a family to provide for?
Where can we get the money for our $300-$700 rent?
If we don’t have financial aid and our families can’t pay for our schooling, do we have to get another job that won’t let us go home on breaks or weekends? What if we graduate with honors, apply to jobs and get rejected because we don’t have enough work experience from college because we were focused solely on our studies?
We need someone to invest in us, too.
Also, isn’t it widely understood that we can learn more outside the classroom anyway?
Applying what we learn to a real-world setting is paramount, and that experience shouldn’t be restricted or looked down on.
We understand and respect the concern for work getting in the way of school, but some people don’t have a choice.
For some, one absolutely cannot come without the other.
Increasing the hour limit for all student workers, allowing skill-level to reflect wage or giving students added benefits is not only a fair request, but an important one.