Section: News

K-SWOC delivers petition to increase student-worker wages

K-SWOC delivers petition to increase student-worker wages

Bowden, left, Singleton, Pham and Lehr delivered the petition to Ransom Hall on Wednesday. | TADHG SAHUTSKE

On Wednesday, four members of the Kenyon Student Workers Organizing Committee (K-SWOC) delivered a petition advocating for wage increases for student workers to the Office of the President. The petition requested that the College’s three pay tiers be increased so that workers in the lowest tier would receive $15.22 an hour, the Knox County living wage calculated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the other two tiers be increased proportionally. Janet Marsden, vice president for communications, explained that the College is not able to significantly change student pay until the National Labor Relations Board hearing regarding K-SWOC is resolved. 

Sam Bowden ’24, Lauren Lehr ’25, Tiana Pham ’24 and Braeden Singleton ’25 represented K-SWOC in delivering the petition. K-SWOC representatives noted that tuition this academic year had increased to $83,740, resulting in a significant gap between the College’s pay rates and the cost of living for student workers. 

The petition argues that many students, especially those living on campus year-round, are under significant financial stress, and that student wages should be adjusted to account for that. Currently, the pay rate for student workers is divided into three tiers, with Tier 1 set at $10.45 an hour, Tier 2 at $11.91 an hour and Tier 3 at $13.42 an hour — an increase from last calendar year’s wages, as the College increases the tier pay each year to align with the prevailing state or federal minimum wage. The petition proposes to increase Tier 1 pay to $15.22 an hour, Tier 2 to $19.51 an hour and Tier 3 to $21.58 an hour.

Members of K-SWOC posted flyers advertising the petition on March 21 that read “Student-Worker? Wanna get paid more? Scan here to sign the petition!” with a QR code directing students to the petition, as well as sending an email to the student body with a link to the digital petition. At the time it was posted, the petition had 60 signatures. By the time the petition was delivered, it had 145.

Marsden explained the College’s stance on K-SWOC action and student-worker issues. “We are committed to listening to student concerns and differing points of view, and it’s always our preference to work together to address common concerns,” Marsden wrote in an email to the Collegian. “We are not able to make any out-of-the-ordinary adjustments to pay tiers until the NLRB has resolved the legal issues raised by K-SWOC/UE’s election petition.”

K-SWOC representatives delivered the petition to Lisa Schmidt, administrative assistant to the president’s division, to get a hard copy to President Julie Kornfeld, who was traveling on College business. Immediately afterward, a digital copy was sent to Kornfeld.

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