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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Young Democratic Socialists of America launches campaign for higher student worker wages


Texas State communication design senior Chinny Egbuna observes students entering the building, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2023, at Joann Cole Mitte Building. She checks if students enter the art galleries’ and records how many enter with a clicker device.

Many services offered at Texas State are run by student workers who subjectively, may not be paid a livable wage, giving the title “broke college student” a new meaning. The Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) at Texas State is seeking to raise wages for student workers to at least $15 an hour. The organization launched its labor campaign on Nov. 17 with a press conference and informational picket.
YDSA Co-chair Andrew Maglich, a political science sophomore, wrote the proposal and the chapter voted to make it their official campaign. Maglich, a former Alkek Library student worker, said he liked the job but struggled to compensate for the lack of pay.
“I worked at Alkek. It’s a great job if the pay was livable,” Maglich said. “I really enjoyed working at the library, I think there’s a lot of good that comes from it. You can provide a lot of good services to people, but it just doesn’t pay enough for people to be able to do that and live.”
During his time as a student worker, he saw a merging of departments which affected his job and workload. This led him to realize the lack of a voice for student workers on campus.
“It was a decision that was like, fully opposed by every single student worker I talked to about it,” Maglich said. “That was one driving factor to where I kind of realized that there’s a lot of discontent in on-campus positions where student workers are not being paid enough, but they also don’t have a voice on the job.”
Noah Jefferson, a biology senior, worked as a desk assistant for the Department of Housing and Residential Life from his freshman year up until last semester. He was paid $9.50 an hour and said employees were told they were replaceable by the department when they complained about treatment. 
“In my job the first point of contact for the dorms was the student workers, that front desk is the first person they’re going to,” Jefferson said. “Pretty much every amenity that Texas State offer is done under the assistance and labor of students.”
Larry Adisa, a communication studies senior, has worked as an orientation leader and as a PACE peer mentor. He was paid $10 an hour as a peer mentor and said student workers are integral to Texas State.
“They are basically like the blood of the campus. They basically keep everything running. The REC student workers, LBJ front desk student workers. Everywhere is student workers,” Adisa said. “So we have to make sure that student workers are taken care of because you always have to remember like, we’re also going to classes. They always tell us that we should put our academics first, but we can’t put our academics first if we’re not being paid a livable wage.”
Despite the pay, Adisa believes there are positive opportunities that come from working on campus like building connections and honing skills. Still, he believes there should be more benefits.
“We should definitely pride ourselves on doing more than just the bare minimum for students, especially here at Texas State,” Adisa said. “We need to have some more benefits to working on campus [like] if you’re working during lunchtime, they give you meal swipes or if you’re working a job for the entire school year, they give you $200 in Bobcat Bucks.”
According to Madeline Davila, director of the Office of Payroll and Tax Compliance, there are a lot of factors that go into the pay grade of student workers.
“It all depends on the position and also federal guidelines,” Davila said. “How much you’re going to get paid an hour above the minimum [wage] depends on your duties, responsibilities and your position that you held as a student worker.”
With these factors in mind, various departments that employ student workers use a pay scale that has been determined by the Office of Human Resources. As of September 2021, the pay scale of student workers and undergraduate instructional assistants ranges from $7.25 to $14 an hour.
The initial campaign by YDSA is going to be centered around university jobs in the public sector. 
“Texas is a right-to-work state, and part of that means that public sector workers like those who work for the university don’t have collective bargaining rights,” Maglich said. “To kind of work around that, we’re instead launching a department-by-department pressure campaign, so the university is able to raise wages unilaterally across the board, but that’s a decision up to the Board of Regents.”
YDSA has laid some groundwork for canvasing student workers and collecting information through an anonymous interest form regarding their jobs on campus. 
I don’t think we’ve gotten any answers that said, across the board, yes, people can afford to live,” Maglich said. “We really want to make sure that we’re that we’re building this campaign in a way that workers are comfortable in participating and don’t like the fear that they’re going to lose their jobs.”
By following a department-by-department strategy, YDSA hopes to see the largest departments raise wages first so that smaller departments will follow suit. Maglich said they plan to use public media and public pressure to see results.
Texas is a right-to-work state without collective bargaining rights for public sector workers which means public sector unions like the Texas State Employees Union are ineffective when negotiating with the university for pay raises.
This is not a union campaign, but rather a wage campaign. With this in mind, the purpose of the informational picket and press conference in November was not only to launch the campaign but also to help gain awareness for the cause.
“I think for a lot of people who are fortunate enough to not have to work on campus … they might just not know that Texas State pays so low,” Maglich said. “I think that’s part of you know … just a lot of people just aren’t aware that the university pays so low.”
Maglich describes the effects that this campaign can have if achieved can help students and their quality of life.
“I think I think it would be immense. When the university is undervaluing and underpaying student workers, they’re underinvesting in everyone because it’s the student workers that make the university run.” Maglich said. “If workers are not able to afford their rent or food, then they’re not able to do the best job that they can at the university. A lot of employers want to talk about work performance or productivity, but if you’re not being paid enough to survive, how are you going to perform your best?”
More information on Young Democratic Socialists of America at Texas State can be found at https://www.dsasanmarcos.org/ydsa. The Campus Worker Interest Form can be accessed at https://linktr.ee/txstydsa.

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