Student help docked to cover wage increase

Amye Buckley

As the minimum wage goes up and Missouri Southern’s budget straps down, student workers are putting in fewer hours.

Departments across campus were warned via e-mail to budget student hours carefully to match remaining funds. Students will not be working spring break or intercession because of the lack of funding. Summer funding was described as “very limited.” Previously, when work-study students ran out of federally funded hours they were re-classified as student help, but no more.

Administrators are anticipating a drop in funding from the U.S. Department of Education, which funds the work-study program. The allocation shows a 50 percent decrease in funding, despite recent promises by President Barack Obama to increase work-study funding. If the amount is reduced, then Southern students may see a decrease in jobs on campus.

“My understanding is the budget is not being adjusted to reflect the new [minimum wage] standard,” said Debbie Dutch Kelly, director of human resources. “We have not received more federal or state money specifically reflecting minimum wage changes.”

In July, the Federal minimum wage is going up again. The minimum wage in Missouri is adjusted each January based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). So far the amount has gone up each year. Student workers fill in, supporting departments across campus. They work in the Learning Center, answer questions at the Help Desk, proctor exams in Lifelong Learning and shelve books in the library.

The library is open 99.5 hours a week. With four desks staffed during its operating hours, the library is the largest employer of student help. Wendy McGrane, library director, has worked to reduce double-coverage in her department, negotiated with the business office and, on occasion, gone without by staffing only the most critical positions.

“We would be unable to maintain current service levels without student employees,” McGrane said.