California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Student Employment Adjusts To Rising Minimum Wage

For several years, California Lutheran University’s student employment budget has increased with the minimum wage. However, with this year’s rise in minimum wage, the student employment budget stayed the same, resulting in departments having to cut back on either the amount of departmental assistants or their hours.

Cal Lutheran’s Career Services office handles the student employment budget for the approximately 800 student workers on campus. Various departments around campus get a set amount to spend on student employment. With the minimum wage increase, each had to decide how to stay within budget.

“The main change over the last year, since Career Services is now overseeing student employment, is that the university has determined that most student worker jobs are entry-level and should only pay minimum wage,” said Career Services Director Cindy Lewis.

The Career Services office also cut back over the summer by only having one student working full time and the other working half time.

Geology’s department chair, William Bilodeau, said departments were informed ahead of time that the budget would not be increasing.   

“In the past, I’ve had four DAs and now I have three; that’s how we’ve dealt with it,” Bilodeau said.

The geology department used the same departmental assistants as last spring, except one who graduated. Bilodeau explained how it’s been a pretty easy transition in his experience.

Bilodeau said he likely could have hired a fourth DA, but that it would be difficult and would be cutting the budget close.

“Just to play it safe and free up some money for other departments that still needed the DAs for all the various things that they do and have many DAs, I let it go,” Bilodeau said.

The amount each department receives is based off what they have needed and spent in the past, and any unused money goes back into the student worker pool, Lewis said.

“If we kept our numbers, we would have to reduce the amount of time each could do it and I didn’t want to do that, so that’s why I knocked off one position,” Bilodeau said.

Directors and VPs in each department also had to see if any areas were under or over paying.

“We had to look at each department’s needs and try to see if there were over and under staffing in some roles,” Lewis said.

English departmental assistant Julie Martinez said the English DAs got an email over the summer letting them know about the department cutting hours. The department also cut from six to five DAs.

Last year, all English DAs worked a combined 40 hours a week, but they now work 36.

“We initially had signed up for a certain amount of hours but we had to cut down because they didn’t have enough hours for us,” Martinez said.

Martinez works six hours a week, just like last year. She has another job on campus that guarantees nine, so she can only work six to avoid going over the maximum of 15 hours for student workers.

John Deisz, department chair of physics, said the budget allows for 15 hours of work per week, which the department splits between two DAs.

“Starting this fall, the ALLIES in STEM program, funded by CLU’s HSI-STEM grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is funding five hours of additional physics tutoring. So despite the rise in minimum wage, CLU’s work in obtaining the HSI-STEM grant means that we actually are providing substantially more physics tutoring than we were last year,” Deisz said.

Deisz said ALLIES is also working on a system to track use of tutoring services in order to provide tutoring at the times most beneficial to students.

“The bottom line is that although the rise in the minimum wage could have affected our ability to provide valuable tutoring services, other efforts taking place at the university are allowing us to make our tutoring better and more available than before,” Deisz said.

Bridget Sjolie

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