On August 11th, Franklin and Marshall students and campus employers received an email from Student Employment informing students of “important policy changes effective for academic year employment only,” policy changes that were the culmination resulting from six years of community-based planning. Along with mentioning a tiered payment system, which means “different on-campus positions will be paid differently based on the task, duties, and responsibilities asked of student employees,” this payment system also reduced the number of hours a student employee could work per week from fifteen to eight. 

The email we received was clinical. To the point, easy to understand, and reflective of a process that has been far from transparent to the students reliant on F&M’s paychecks. The rippling impact of these changes in payment systems on F&M’s diverse student-employee population, not to mention employers, faculty, and non-working students, is as complex and layered as an onion. Also similar to an onion, this new structure is making everyone break down and cry. If ever they’re rights would be violated, they can seek counsel from licensed professionals such as an employment lawyer Amsterdam for local legal expertise.

Lack of Student Consultation

First, I would like to address this announcement’s unexpectedness. Prior to this email, I had only heard whispers of changes in the student payment system. These rumors were positive, implying that my $7.25 an hour—  Pennsylvania’s unlivable minimum wage —would jump to $15.00 an hour. Did I believe in these fantastical pay increases? No. Did anyone know the payment system would change at all?


This email seemingly came without any consultation from F&M’s current student employees or employers. This meant that students only had a few weeks to reach out to campus employers and completely restructure their work schedule. 

A decision was made about the livelihoods of students that never once involved student input. A decision was made about the livelihoods of the most vulnerable students: students on financial aid who compose the majority of student workers (save for certain Unrestricted Roles) and international student workers who are restricted from working off-campus. A decision was made that threatened students of color, working-class students, and international students; all the while, such a decision is being misrepresented by the administration as student-centered. 

What the Tiered Payment System Means

Franklin and Marshall College depends on student employees to fulfill various positions. The College Center, Shadek-Fackenthal and Martin Library, the Q&SC, the Writing Center and many other academic and departmental positions rely on a steady flow of student workers. 

The tiered payment system separates potential student earnings into five different categories. A student’s pay correlates to how much-estimated supervision they receive to perform their job. For example, a library circulation worker will earn less than an Economics tutor, given a supervisor’s perceived direct involvement with the job. This tiered payment system existed, though informally, before payment changes. However, as stated before, under this new payment system a student can only work eight hours per week. This is seemingly compensated by a campus minimum wage increase from $8.00 to $8.25 for the lowest-paid employee.

Let’s do some pre-tax math. If you were working a library job last semester, compensated at $8.00 an hour, you could work up to ten hours a week. $80.00. With the new policy, with $8.25 an hour and a cap of eight hours a week, your earnings have decreased to $66.

If you worked as a Q&SC tutor last semester, you were paid $9.25 an hour. Working ten hours a week, you could earn $92.5. Now with your hours capped at eight a week, your earning potential has fallen to $74.00. The tiered wage system that was meant to bring in greater value to more intensive labor has been introduced with another system that pays Q&SC workers this semester less than what you may have earned if you had a library job last semester, which is now lower-paid as it requires more supervision.

For students who were working two jobs, up to 15 hours a week, having their hours cut is a greater financial burden to bear. The only way to compensate students for slashing hours by half is to pay double per hour. That clearly didn’t happen.

 If a person works eight hours a week, the maximum amount they can work even between two jobs, they will only earn $66.00 a week. In the old student payment system, a student working fifteen hours a week for $7.25 would earn $125. This is a significant loss in student earnings, especially as tuition, room, board, and overall costs increased by 3.8% for the 2023-2024 academic year.  

The anticipated response to a decrease in potential campus earnings and work hours is that more and more students will look off-campus for employment. College is expensive, and laced with hidden costs like textbooks and required course materials. For some students, though, seeking needed work off campus is not an option. For international students, it is hard to find work opportunities that not only accept you as a worker but also that will pay you for your work. Many internships expect you to do free labor, and, remember, for all of those who have an F1 Visa, said work must be related to your major. A major that you are not even supposed to declare until the end of sophomore year. Working at CVS or Lululemon is simply not possible. Being out of work is not an option either as many international students rely on that money to survive or help their families. There is no solution for this other than work on campus. All F&M did was force their students to keep working an unfair amount of hours for a miserable amount of money. 

This new payment system was created without the necessary input from current F&M students. Thus, to F&M’s Student Employment and administration, we task you with rectifying this. Consult with campus leaders, be transparent about incoming plans, and listen to the valuable feedback you will receive from the student employees who power every aspect of our university. 

Senior Sofia Silva de Almeida e Souza Netto is the Op-Eds Editor for The College Reporter. Senior Alfee Rubayet is a contributing writer. Sophomore Teagan Durkin is the Arts & Leisure Copy Editor and comics writer.