Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary's Campaign.jpg

‘Raise the pay, SMC’: Saint Mary's students launch campaign to raise student worker pay

In collaboration with students at Saint Mary’s College, the Katharine Terry Dooley Fellowship launched a petition on Feb. 15 to raise the student worker pay from $9 an hour to $15.

The College adopted the $9 an hour rate in 2022. According to Raise the Pay flyers found around Saint Mary’s campus, this rate was a $1.75 increase from the prior rate.

Andrew Pierce, adviser of the Dooley Fellowship, noted that the program trains Saint Mary’s students in social justice leadership, so students have the tools to carry out a social justice campaign on campus or in the community.

“Many SMC students must work multiple jobs to make up for the lack of sustainable pay,” senior and Dooley Fellow Grace Enright said. “The more jobs and hours students work to make up for comparatively low pay, the less time they have for academic work, thus decreasing the quality of students‘ college experience and performance.”

The movement began with flyers posted across the campus and then spread to social media. The movement's Instagram account (@raisethepaysmc) has 145 followers, and their petition has “exceeded its allocated quota” on Jotform. 

“We recognize that higher-paying jobs are sometimes available off campus, but those who have access to cars have more access to these better-paying jobs. Those without this resource are left to the lower-paying SMC jobs, often when they are the ones most in need,” Enright said. “This reflects the widening gap between the privileged and the underprivileged, which brings about a question of whether SMC is supporting equity.”

In 2022, Notre Dame students ran the Raising the Standard Campaign. Since Notre Dame offers a higher student wage than Saint Mary’s, senior and Dooley Fellow Jeanett Ochoa noted that Saint Mary’s must increase their pay to retain student employees on campus.

“We are hoping student voices and concerns will be heard from administrators whilst creating a chance of dialogue between the two different worlds,” Ochoa said. “Our goal is to raise student payment to $15 an hour because, today with inflation, students are finding it difficult to pay for stuff.”

According to Pierce, the movement’s organizers aim to raise wages in light of equity between the two campuses.

“Saint Mary’s is an institution with justice at the core of its mission, dedicated to ‘preparing women for roles of leadership and action,’ and the Dooley Fellowship program strives to make good on that promise,” Pierce said. “[I am] proud that these student leaders have chosen to hold the institution to its professed values.”