Highlighting the need for fair student employee wages

By Preston Hicks

As of the writing of this letter, Rider University employs student workers at a rate below New Jersey’s minimum wage. I discovered this recently while searching Handshake for student jobs. Currently, New Jersey’s minimum wage is $13 per hour, and yet, by exploiting a loophole in U.S. labor laws, the university can list wages such as $11.80 per hour for website assistants, $10.80 for athletics event assistants or $10.80 for bronc safety service team members. According to New Jersey’s Wage and Hour Law, “Full-time students may be employed by the college or university at which they are enrolled at not less than 85% of the effective applicable minimum wage rate.” As a result, Rider is legally able to short-change its student workers, paying them much less than equivalent entry-level part-time jobs in the surrounding area.

According to Talent.com’s average salary calculator, the median hourly pay for part-time workers in Lawrence Township is $15 per hour, meaning that a student employed by Rider may end up making 72% as much as they could working a similar job outside of campus. While some may argue that solving the problem is as simple as choosing to work outside campus, the reality is that the convenience of being able to work on campus may improve student outcomes. According to the AAUP, students who work long hours are less likely to graduate on time and also deal with lower grades as a result of increased stress and less time to focus on schoolwork.

Because Rider does not pay a fair wage, students must choose between higher pay and more time to work on their education. I encourage all students to contact both local New Jersey politicians and Rider administrators to push for a true minimum wage for students. As it is, New Jersey law has left students behind, and Rider University has been perfectly happy to take advantage.

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