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Dorm Crew Increases Employee Wages

By Kathleen G. Barrow and Lena Episalla R., Crimson Staff Writers

Dorm Crew has implemented a more generous pay schedule this fall and offered dinners during its pre-orientation program for the first time, following suggestions from an employee survey and criticisms in the College’s report on diversity and inclusion.

The changes are designed to appeal to incoming freshman and increase the program’s retention rate, according to Dorm Crew co-head captain Michael P. Dybala ’17.

“Our wage wasn’t as competitive as it was in the past. We raised the pay to both make it competitive and to raise the retention rate,” Dorm Crew co-head captain Ali A. Elreichouni ’17 said. “The flexibility of the job increases the opportunities of the students to take on other non-paying jobs they may not have been able to otherwise.”

Wages for Dorm Crew have increased dramatically. In the last academic year, and during this summer’s “Fall Clean-Up”—the session in August geared toward incoming freshmen—a Dorm Crew employee’s salary would begin at $13.25 per hour and increase only in small increments over many semesters, Dybala and Elreichouni said. Beginning this fall, hourly wages start at $16.25 and increase by a dollar by the end of the student’s first year on Dorm Crew. Captains can now earn up to $18.25 per hour.

Paul L. Belmonte ’10, Dorm Crew’s supervisor, said he hopes this will reverse the decline in Dorm Crew participation in the last few years.

“A lot of people would work for us for a few weeks and then fall off the face of the Earth,” he said.

The retention rate for freshmen who participated in Fall Clean-up was higher this year than in the past, a fact Belmonte partly attributed to the pay raise.

He also said the provision of dinner during the weeklong program made Dorm Crew more attractive to incoming freshmen, by giving them an opportunity to get to know one another outside of work.

“We tried to make more programming, more social activities in addition to the work day,” Belmonte said. “It comes back to building community.”

The free meals come after complaints cited in the College’s report on diversity and inclusion that students who chose Dorm Crew as their pre-orientation program in order to make money were then expected to pay for their own meals. While Annenberg was open during these sessions, meals there could cost freshmen as much as a quarter of their daily earnings, according to the report.

The Crimson’s survey of the current freshman class found that more than half of the incoming students who participated in Dorm Crew’s Fall Cleanup come from families with a combined income of less than $125,000. The lack of a meal plan during the pre-orientation program was especially difficult for those students who hoped to save money for the semester during the program rather than spend it.

Dorm Crew employees overall have been happy with the change, Belmonte said.

“I know from a captain’s perspective that everyone is really happy,” Dybala said. “General satisfaction has gone up. Everyone is just generally satisfied.”

—Staff writer Kathleen G. Barrow can be reached at kathleen.barrow@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Lena R. Episalla can be reached at lena.episalla@thecrimson.com.

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