On December 19, the Skidmore Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) voted unanimously to increase the minimum wage for on campus student employees. The minimum wage on campus was increased to $8.75 an hour so that it would be inline with the current New York State minimum wage. This change went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015 as previously Skidmore had been following the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 an hour.
Skidmore College was not legally required to increase the student minimum wage even though the state increased it. Originally Skidmore had made the decision to not raise the student minimum wage. When it became clear that wages were not going to rise for students, “members of SGA, the students as a whole, and the administration began working together on how we could address the issue,” said Student Government Associate President Addison Bennett ’16.
The issue of raising student wages ultimately came down to two main factors. The first was that when the IPPC reviewed Skidmore’s peer colleges and how they were addressing this issue they realized that most were planning on raising their student minimum wage and “Skidmore need[ed] to adapt to remain competitive among College students state-wide,” said Bennett. The second factor had to do with fairness. This was an issue that the two student members of the IPPC Bennett and Student Government Association VP for Financial Affairs Sam Harris ’15 “were careful to emphasize with the support of the administration,” said Bennett.
“Skidmore College has strived to pay students competitive wages. So, with this additional information…the College increased the wages on Jan. 1 to the higher rates,” said past vice-chair (and vice-chair at the time of this decision) of the IPPC and Professor of Government Natalie Taylor.
President Phillip A. Glotzbach said in a statement that was emailed to Skidmore students on Dec. 19 that the change was made “with respect to student workers.” Bennett ‘16 said in an email to Skidmore students also on Dec. 19 that “this change… has come about as a result of student activism, action taken by the SGA Senate, and the community’s attention to this issue.”
The overall response from students is that they are very pleased with the increase. “It is nice to know that the school values us as student employees and pays us the state minimum wage,” said Rachael Thomeer ’18, a student work in the dining hall.
When Celia Marhefka ’18 a student worker at both the dining hall and Spa was asked how she felt about the increase she said, “I am happy I am getting paid more.” For students like Marhefka and Thomeer who work in Skidmore’s dining services, their pay has been increased this semester from eight dollars an hour to $8.75 an hour.
With a pay increase like this, school budgetary concerns are obviously an issue because the money has to come from some part of Skidmore’s budget. Currently “for the fiscal year ending May 31, the College only needed to fund a portion of the annual cost, which has been funded for these purposes from the College Operating Budget Contingency Fund,” said Taylor when asked how they were funding this increase.
The change of student minimum wage will not end here, as it will once again increase next year. Bennett said that the “IPPC was willing to make the long-term commitment within the College's annual budget to student wages being at or above the state minimum. That means that when the wage raises again automatically at the start of 2016, so will Skidmore's.”