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Students who must work to meet living expenses are currently caught in the tightest kind of squeeze. While room, board, and hospital fees go up around them, the student employees of the University are forced to accept wage seales that were determined before the war and not much modified since then. Under popular pressure, the Student Employment Service has revised upward certain wages in individual departments, but the whole picture is marked with a general unwillingness on the part of the University to compensate for the radical change in educational costs.
Especially in the dining room and library departments is the pressure made clear. Whereas union waitresses hired on the outside receive one rate of pay and one type of meal allotment, student waiters and bus boys get a lower rate and a smaller number of free meals in the bargain. The fact that both groups do almost exactly the same work, under the same circumstances does not seem to enter into University calculations. The large turnover of part-time student workers may well be traced to dissatisfaction over this double standard.
Student librarians, as a group, do not face the inconveniences of long hours and difficult labor that characterize dining room jobs. Those in the Houses, for instance, may spend at least a portion of their time at the library desk in study. But the attendants at the University libraries serve an essential function and offer a service that must be adequately rewarded lest the jobs go begging. The Houses are having increasing difficulty filling the maintenance posts at the ungratifying pay of $.55 per hour. Both here and at Widener, this work requires full attention of the attendant. Both in the Houses and at Widener the authorities, as well as the House Masters, agree that a raise in pay will mean the difference between efficient service and slipshod stop-gaps.
Though the great brunt of all student employment falls within the library and maintenance departments, there are numbers of unclassified part-time jobs that fall into the same run of inadequacies. The routine run on restaurant and sales jobs in the Boston area has grown with the realization that only outside the University can the undergraduate find an hourly wage rate high enough to cover spiralling expenses. The average $.75 hourly rate on the outside is a big boost over the University's $.55 But the convenience of University jobs, plus the possibilities of combining study with work, makes this type of employment the logical answer to the individual student's needs.
From the viewpoint of University finances these proposed raises do involve a burden. But the Business Department can surely see the justice in paying the same wages for the same work. And it should not be too difficult to foresee the decline of many of the services of the College if the student help are not granted real and substantial assistance.
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