Letter to the Editor

What follows below are the comprehensive demands of student workers. Approximately 170 students have been involved in the process of writing, editing and supporting these demands. The first draft of these demands was written by a group of student workers sharing our stories, grievances and hopes for the future. We drew on common experiences shared by student workers on this campus — many of us face regular harassment on the basis of race, gender, gender presentation, ability, religion, etc. Many of us feel disrespected in our workplaces. Many of us struggle to meet our financial needs even as we work amounts detrimental to our personal and academic lives. We are frustrated that the maximum hourly wage available to students on this campus, $12, does not adequately reflect the expertise, responsibility, and specialization required by our positions. We believe that if students are compensated fairly and at scales which reflect the specialization of our labor, we would be able to work more reasonable hours while meeting our needs. The current recommended hours cap, 10 hours, does not reasonably account for students who are responsible for large portions of their tuition, their family or their personal financial situation.

The first draft of our demands was presented to a general meeting of student workers, at which point they were edited to more accurately reflect the needs of all student workers. These demands have been submitted to the Board of Trustees, flyered around campus, and presented to administrators. We expect a response from the College by Oct. 12, 2018.

We believe that student workers are the strongest when we come together. We are building connections between students working in different departments and creating space for us to share our experiences, seek support, and affect the changes we need. We welcome every student worker to join with us: your voice is needed, and your voice is valued. We welcome support from student allies, faculty and staff. Dear reader: do you support student workers on this campus?


Mount Holyoke College relies on student labor. As student workers, we offer our time, talents and support to enable the daily operation of campus activities across all departments and at all levels. As student workers, we are an integral part of the fabric of Mount Holyoke’s vibrant community. As student workers, we feel that we are taken for granted, marginalized and underappreciated. We demand it be possible on this campus for students to meet our financial needs without working amounts detrimental to or interfering with our academic and personal pursuits. We demand the following structural changes be made to meet our demonstrated needs:

WE DEMAND FAIR WAGES. We demand that the minimum wage offered on campus be $1 above Massachusetts State minimum wage. We demand that the paid difference in position levels be raised to 10% of the hourly wage to accurately reflect the responsibility, expertise, and specialization of labor involved. We demand compensation of an additional 10% of the hourly wage for shifts taking place after 9:00PM. We demand a structure be put in place for raises which reflect the expertise that comes with consecutive semesters of employment. We demand pay for the training necessary for our positions. We demand pay for currently unpaid positions (e.g., MoZone, AccessAbility Fellows, MERT, Orientation Leaders) which require vast amounts of emotional, intellectual and physical labor.

WE DEMAND A SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT. We demand that all staff, faculty and professional employees be trained and held accountable for cultural sensitivity, harassment and violent language. We demand that these trainings be frequent, regular and updated. We demand clear structures of accountability, reporting and support for students facing adversity, harassment and risk. We demand transparency around how our concerns and grievances are handled, and by whom. We demand supervisors who reflect Mount Holyoke’s diverse student body, and who prioritize student safety and wellbeing. We demand that accessible jobs be available to work-study students. We demand a work environment conducive to personal and professional growth.

WE DEMAND BENEFITS FOR STUDENTS WORKING EQUIVALENT TO FULL-TIME. We demand that Dining Services workers performing labor for 30+ hours a week receive a stipend for adequate personal protective equipment and clothing. We demand full room and board for Senior / Community Advisors in addition to their stipend.

WE DEMAND RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS OFF AND FAIR PAY FOR HOLIDAY WORK. We demand that students be exempt from work on religious holidays which involve fasting and/or rest from work. We demand a 10% increase of the hourly wage on days which are federal holidays. We demand a 10% increase of the hourly wage for work performed during academic breaks. We demand that all workers required by their positions to be on campus during academic breaks be provided full room and board.

WE DEMAND FAIR AND TRANSPARENT HIRING PRACTICES. We demand full transparency in the hiring process of what are widely understood to be personal and preferential positions (e.g., Teaching Assistants, Admissions, Student Management). We demand greater transparency about group hiring practices which favor white, American and cisgender students. We demand that diverse, culturally situated styles of leadership be considered with equal weight.

WE DEMAND ADEQUATE REPRESENTATION ON THE STUDENT EMPLOYMENT ADVISORY COUNCIL. We demand that student workers comprise at least half of the SEAC. We demand that the needs and voices of student workers be taken seriously, and responded to. We request a response from the College within two weeks; each demand must be clearly and definitively answered in writing with indication as to whether the College will fulfill it. We conclude these demands with the promise that failure to promptly and meaningfully respond to the needs of student workers will result in continuous confrontation, interruption and direct action.

—Theo Claire ’20 & Adelita Simon ’19