ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Student workers at Grand Valley State University are calling for higher wages and better working conditions. These issues led to a protest on campus.
Stacey Apeaning is a freshman at Grand Valley State University and she’s held two different jobs since arriving on campus. She said her wage has led to some difficult decisions, like whether to save up for a car or purchase basic necessities.
“I currently don’t have a car, so I can’t go anywhere else outside of campus to find work that pays me a lot better, or do I want to buy food? I kind of have to make that decision,” Apeaning said. “That’s really difficult for someone who’s trying to be independent.”
She is not facing these challenges alone. On Tuesday, a group of student workers at GVSU walked off their jobs for a day as they urged campus administration to increase their minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour.
According to the university’s website, hourly on-campus wages currently range from $10.10 to $17.70, but organizers of the protest claim the most common wage is $10.85.
“We just wanted to show the university that, us as students, we can make a difference. If we walk out of our workplaces and we demand that they raise wages, that they will have to do it or else this university will not run,” Apeaning said.
In response to the protest, Jenny Hall-Jones, GVSU’s vice president for Student Affairs wrote in a statement:
“At GVSU, student wages are important because we know financial stability is central to student success. Students who work on campus have better retention rates than the non-campus working population. We believe this is because on-campus employment offers students schedule flexibility as well as support from university staff and supervisors.
That is why we have made it a priority to create a university-wide student wage task force to explore all aspects of student employment, including wages, wage chart revisions, and market comparisons as well as professional development and linking student employment experiences to their career aspirations.
Our administrators are proud of our students for standing up for what they believe in and encourage those who want to be part of the internal working group to contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.”Jenny Hall-Jones, GVSU’s vice president for Student Affairs
Apeaning said the task force may be helpful, but students need higher wages now.
“We can’t wait another four, eight, 12 years for wages to increase. We need them now. With inflation going up, with the wage I’m making, I’m not going to be able to afford groceries soon,” Apeaning said.
If the university does raise its minimum wage, Apeaning hopes it can be done without increasing the cost of tuition.