Letter to the editor: In response to Nov. 11 op-ed

Nathan Walsh | Ph.D. Student in Physics

As we approach the holiday season, I’m writing in response to Crystal Wells’ November 11 op-ed, “Fight for $15: Better for all.” Even though Crystal and I don’t do the same job on campus, we’re both working parents and facing similar struggles.

From my very first day as a Ph.D. student and graduate worker at Washington University, I felt like, as a parent, I did not belong. My class schedule and workload often kept me distracted when my pregnant wife needed me, and teaching and grading responsibilities later left me with very little time and even less attention to spend on my newborn daughter.

At $2 a box, Maruchan ramen has been a meal staple for us. At times, my wife and daughter have qualified for Medicaid and, luckily, we have had to rely on WIC checks to help us buy food. But the monthly cost of daycare for our child, $1,645 per month, is keeping us back.

The holiday season should be cheerful, but for thousands of working people on campus like me, there’s nothing festive about struggling to pay the bills.

The administration at one of the wealthiest universities in the nation, with a $8.5 billion endowment, does not offer the fair compensation we need to be productive and support our families. Working people from across St. Louis County travel to the University and work hard every day to keep it running. Fifteen dollars an hour and childcare would go far in lifting our entire region, not just our campus, for all.

That’s why campus workers—like housekeepers—and graduate workers and are coming together across different backgrounds to win the $15/hour and childcare to help support our families. We’re showing the Scrooges in the administration that lifting standards is an essential part of strengthening the Wash. U. community.

For me and my family, the best holiday gift of them all would be the support of folks on campus. Graduate workers, housekeepers, food service workers and all campus workers need your support.