Contact: K.E. Schwab -- 724-738-2199;
SRU SUMMER READING PROGRAM TURNS INTO PAY
INCREASE FOR STUDENT WORKERS
Pa. – Slippery Rock University administrators listened
intently as students discussed Barbara Ehrenreich’s book
“Nickle and Dimed” as part of fall semester’s
campuswide summer reading program. They heard how difficult it is
to make ends meet, including paying tuition, on minimum wage jobs,
and have decided to increase student wages to $6 per hour beginning
The pay raise, from
the federally mandated at $5.15 per hour in effect since 1997, will
cover some 1,000 student workers on campus. Plans call for an
additional boost to $6.15 per hour in August. A national increase
in the minimum wage is under discussion in Congress and at least
seven states may individually vote on increasing the minimum wage
in special balloting this year.
compelling, personal stories from our students as part of our group
discussions of Ms. Ehrenreich’s New York Times
bestseller,” said SRU President Robert Smith in announcing
the planned wage increase. “Students, like others, face
mounting costs, including tuition, textbooks and overall living
expenses. Students often have to work multiple, part-time jobs to
meet their obligations. I think this pay increase is an investment
to help students remain in school, pursing their dream of a college
education. With a college education, we know they will earn higher
salaries, thus pay higher taxes, in just a few short years –
thus making the small wage increase now, a solid investment for the
SRU began its
summer reading program last year as a way of helping orient new
students to the academic community through a common reading
experience with fellow classmates, faculty and staff. Upper-class
students served as peer leaders in the project. Incoming students
read the selected work before arriving for orientation, then
offered their views and opinions as well as personal stories as
part of campus discussion groups.
work was chosen for its help in promoting civic engagement and
because it could encourage critical thinking about social issues.
The work was also seen as helping create an intellectual
understanding and commitment to participate in the civic life of
the campus and the nation.
that by reading ‘Nickel and Dimed’ students would
become engaged, and it is clear they did,” said Smith.
“They understand the difficulties of living on minimum wage,
and they understood the problems of America’s working
"As a leading
higher education institute in Pennsylvania, we see our students
forced to spend more time at their jobs in order to meet their
education cost obligations. We know a balance of work and study
time is important if our students are to succeed academically, and
we think by helping students with this pay increase, we are helping
meet their needs at a very important time of their
nation, governmental leaders are looking at the minimum wage issue.
Some have called the current $5.15 a national ‘moral
issue.’ We decided that at SRU this was something we could
and should address," the president added.
wage increase is expected to cost the university $156,112 the first
year. The funding will come from additional performance enhancement
allocations and is not expected to be part of tuition increases.
SRU's annual budget is more than $88
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