Student First, Employee Later

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Courtesy of University of New Haven Website

University discourages nonessential travel

Lauren Fligg, Contributing Writer

Congratulations, you scored your very first on-campus job! You conquered the job hunting process filled with resumés, clammy handshakes and uncomfortable interview clothes. 

I hope you’re ready to work – but only 20 hours a week?

It is no secret that students at the University of New Haven seek on-campus employment for a variety of reasons. One report says that 80% of college students hold a job, either on- or off campus. The report also says that some students want to work for a few extra dollars in their pocket. Others work to feed families and pay tuition bills.

Let’s break it down:

According to the university bursar’s office, the 2019-2020 undergraduate full-time student tuition is a whopping $39,000 for one year. Add approximately $5,000 to $6,000 for housing, approximately $2,000 for meal plans, potentially hundreds of dollars in lab fees, and other small fees that add up, and students can be looking at over $50,000 to live on campus.

The Connecticut Citizen Action Group posted a report that said that a livable wage in the state of Connecticut is $19.08 per hour for a single-adult household. It jumps to $28.81 for a single-parent household with one child, and even higher — to $40.48 — for a single parent with two children.

On-campus positions start at $11 per hour for most positions. According to the University of New Haven employment office, student employees work an average of 6 to 8 hours per week, that earns them $66 to $88 dollars per week, before taxes. Even if a student employee is able to work a full 20 hours, they would only be earning approximately $220 per week before taxes. Clearly, the numbers do not add up to a livable wage, nor a solution to stacking tuition bills.

According to the Connecticut Judicial Branch, a single adult household falls below the poverty line if it makes $12,490 or less annually. With one child, the household falls below the poverty line at $16,910 or less annually.

The amount of money that people need to survive is skyrocketing while jobs are becoming more scarce. The university is doing students a disservice by capping their workload at 20 hours per week when some of them are depending on these jobs to pay bills. 

It would be beneficial for students in good academic standing to be allowed to work working more hours per week if they so choose. However, department budgets and realistic expectations cannot be forgotten. There are only so many hours that departments can afford to pay for, and students do have other obligations outside of their jobs.The additional hours should be limited to no more than a full time work week of 40 hours. 

That way, employers are setting their best foot (and best employees) forward. If their grades waiver, their hours are cut. That would be an excellent incentive for working students to keep their grades up. In addition to being able to earn more money, students would also gain valuable work experience for the real world. While on-campus employment should not be a stand-in for a lifelong career, we should give our students a better chance at their own financial success by allowing them to work the hours they deserve.