Op-Ed: Letter to the editor: All campus workers need $15/hr and free childcare

Sarah Martin | Class of 2019

Student Life recently published an article on the $15 and Child Care for All campaign at Washington University, which featured several comments by Hank Webber, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration. According to Webber, the University’s minimum wage will be $12.65 an hour as of July 1, 2019. While Hank Webber touts the University’s wage and benefits package, he fails to acknowledge that many workers on campus make far below $12.65 an hour. I am one of these workers.

I make $8.60 an hour–the current minimum wage in Missouri–as an undergraduate work-study student in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Library. Making $8.60 means that I live paycheck to paycheck. My girlfriend and I try to support each other, but we still barely make it to each pay-period. Together, we can barely afford groceries, not to mention the basic costs of living. This makes it so I am constantly thinking about money, not school, which should be my main priority. My anxiety about money is hindering my ability to take care of myself and other people in my life who matter to me. As a queer black woman, I already feel marginalized by these identities. Not making $15/hr exacerbates this marginalization.

I know I’m not alone in earning such low wages on campus. That’s why student workers, grad workers, housekeepers, food service workers and our supporters across Wash. U. and St. Louis have come together as part of the $15 and Child Care for All campaign to demand $15/hr and free child care for all campus workers.

In a recent press release, the University claimed they “strive to be an employer of choice in the St. Louis region.” If this was truly the case, then Wash. U. would provide $15/hr and free child care for everyone who works here. For the livelihood and well-being of student and campus workers, the University must act now.

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