COLORADO SPRINGS — Student workers at UCCS are getting paid more after they pushed for higher pay during the past school year.
Starting July 1, student workers who have a job on campus began getting paid a minimum of $14 an hour. The last raise was in January when minimum wage was bumped to $12.92 an hour.
Dennis Molina, a junior on campus said, the low pay prior to now encouraged him to find a job off campus last year.
“I was hired last semester, but I quit because of the low wage,” said Molina. “I did the budgeting and I was not able to make rent at all with that. So i let them know i had to look for other opportunities.”
But with the increase in minimum wage, Molina says he’s looking to get a job on campus starting in the fall.
“I’m going to be able to work a lot less, it’s lot less stress on my car, and I’ll be able to just walk from home because there's more incentive to work because of the $14.”
Chris Valentine, a spokesperson for the university, said they didn't have it in the budget last year to increase pay. But with a few changes like an increase in tuition and more state funding, they were able to bump the minimum wage.
“With the high cost of everything these days, you know, our goal is to help our students be successful in schools. The price of gas is going up, the price of rent is going up. Yes, we want to make sure our students are able to continue their education,” said Valentine.
Valentine said there are nearly 2,000 student workers on campus, who work jobs like at book store, coffee shops or dining facilities, the admissions office, or in marketing.
During the school year, many of the students work up to 25 hours a week, including Amanda Ford. Her and Molina both say $14 is not enough though.
“It’s a mix of balances for UCCS. I’m sure they would give more they could,” said Molina.
“I think $14 is a great start. I definitely am an advocate of the $15 minimum wage,” said Ford.
United Campus Workers Colorado (UCWC) also created a petition to urge the university to raise the minimum wage to $15. The campaign collected over one thousand signatures from students, staff, and community members. The petition was handed over in April for higher pay.
According to the union, 95 percent of UCCS student workers and 70 full-time UCCS staff make less than $15 an hour.
UCCS is also the only school in the CU system that hasn't raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“I think a lot of student workers would be able to focus more on school and more on their specific on campus job, whereas like, right now, most of my fellow student workers are working two or three jobs. So they have an on-campus one and then a couple other ones, myself included. I think that raising the minimum wage to $15 could potentially alleviate that.
During the pandemic, the University also cut back on services and dining facilities, and had a hard time filling positions. But they're hoping the raise in minimum wage will encourage more students to work on campus.
Below are statements about student worker pay from other local colleges and universities.
Pikes Peak Community College: “We raised the minimum wage for our student employees to $14/hour on January 1st of this year and are working toward raising it again. We have experienced shortages of student employees every semester since the pandemic and hope that the new wages will help us acquire and retain them.”
CSU Pueblo: “Starting pay for students at CSU Pueblo is $12.56 and is set in accordance with Colorado’s minimum wage standards. However, supervisors can adjust their students’ pay rate each semester based on the position and experience. Some of our students make up to $25 an hour. While we have also experienced a shortage of student employees, we allow the wage rate to be determined by the individual supervisors since they are in the best position to decide on an appropriate wage to meet their staffing needs.”
Pueblo Community College: “Like other businesses, we’ve had issues filling open positions so we are in the process of reimagining the work-study model. One possibility is that there will be fewer student jobs on campus but pay will be increased for the jobs that still exist. Nothing has been finalized, however. We would like to increase the hourly wage for students. The amount is still being discussed. The last time PCC’s work-study wage was increased was Jan. 1, when Colorado’s minimum wage increased from $12.32 per hour to $12.56. This is the current wage for all of PCC’s student employees.”
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