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Minimum Wage for Student Workers Increased to $10.50 Hourly: Only Second Raise Since 2008

As of the beginning of 2021, Haverford has raised the minimum wage for all student workers to $10.50 per hour. T. Muriel Brisbon, Director of Human Resources and Risk Management announced the wage increase in an email to students on February 11.

Under the previous wage scheme, most on-campus jobs paid $9.50 per hour. Many students also received a raise of $0.25 per hour for each additional year they worked for the college, up to $10.50 per hour as seniors.

In an email interview, Brisbon confirmed that the practice of tying raises to experience for certain jobs would end, saying that the change would “increase equity for students and enhance wage clarity and transparency.” She also noted that the new minimum wage would result in higher pay for nearly all students.

Some on-campus positions will continue to be paid more than the student minimum wage. Dining Services student workers now receive $11.75 per hour, while student supervisors in Dining Services receive $13.00 per hour.

The $10.50 per hour minimum wage will put Haverford in line with Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore, where student workers receive between $9.80 and $11.35 per hour.

Eyasu Shumie ’21 supports the minimum wage increase but says Haverford needs to pay its workers more, especially students who hold multiple jobs at the college. “I know many people on this campus who work 20+ hours a week on top of all their classes, and it’s miserable,” he said.

To supplement his three on-campus jobs at the Nest food pantry, VCAM, and the Writing Center, Shumie recently began working as a virtual writing tutor, which pays $15 per hour. He found the job, he said, through the Center for Career and Professional Advising’s much-vaunted Haverford Connect platform.

Student wages at Haverford have grown exceedingly slowly over the past fifteen years: the increase to the $10.50 per hour minimum is only the second bump in pay since 2008, when campus jobs started at $9.00 per hour. In fact, after accounting for inflation, most students will actually earn less under the new wage scheme than they did thirteen years ago.

Over the same period, the college’s cost of attendance has jumped from $46,270 in 2008 to $75,966 in 2020—a 24% inflation-adjusted increase.

This disconnect led the Student Workers Organizing League (SWOL) to advocate for a raise of Haverford’s student minimum wage back in February 2019. Although SWOL’s focus later turned to efforts to make Customs a paid program, Shumie—one of the original SWOL leaders—cites their advocacy as part of the reason behind the college’s decision to increase the starting pay for on-campus jobs from $9.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour.

The minimum wage in Pennsylvania, which was last raised in 2009, is $7.25 per hour. This is considerably lower than neighboring states like New Jersey and Maryland, where the minimum wage will reach $15.00 per hour by 2025.

Democratic governor Tom Wolf and labor groups have pushed for raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage for years, but their efforts have been blocked by the Republican-controlled legislature. At the federal level, a proposal to raise the nationwide minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by 2025 has stalled in Congress.

If the minimum wage in Pennsylvania does rise past $10.50 per hour, Haverford says that it has enough financial room to accommodate existing student workers at a higher payscale. “We do not expect a reduction in the hours made available for students to work if the minimum wage is increased,” said Brisbon.

The $10.50 per hour student minimum wage will remain fixed through the end of the 2021–22 school year, according to Brisbon. Haverford will consider future raises after that date contingent on the school’s budget.

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