In partnership with the Pennsylvania Student Power Network (PSPN), a group of WCU students held a kickoff for their Fight for 15 campaign. The event was held in the Sykes Common Grounds on Thursday, Feb. 16.
The goal is to spark a movement on campus to push for higher salaries for student workers and a tuition freeze through the 2021-2022 academic year.
“[Fight for 15] is a national movement going on around different cities and campuses for fast food workers, for campus workers and student workers,” said sophomore Nahje Royster.
The event began with one of the coordinators for the event, Jamie Berg, speaking to attendees on the movement and event agenda.
She then went on to introduce Royster to speak about her experiences as a student worker. Royster said she was only getting paid $7.25 an hour working at the bookstore. Some weeks her checks were only $25.
After Royster spoke on her experiences, junior Lauren Townsville was invited to speak. She mentioned that she was a full-time student working a full-time job.
WCU assistant professor Ben Kuebrich spoke to the students in support of their movement. Kuebrich presented a comparison of salaries between a typical student worker and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s (PASSHE) head, Chancellor Frank Brogan.
The PowerPoint slide Kuebrich presented read, “If Brogan worked 40 hours a week for 52 weeks, he would make an hourly wage of $166.”
Compared to a WCU student trying to pay off their tuition with $7.25 an hour, that student would need to work 69 hours a week for a year to pay the university over $26,000.
On each table there were petitions outlining the demands of student workers and opportunities for those in attendance to sign in solidarity.
According to the petition, PASSHE tuition and fees have gone up more than 20 percent in the past five years. Pennsylvania students on average graduate with $30,000 dollars in debt—the second most of any state.
The group hopes to spread awareness and incite a campus-wide movement.
“We’ll be having meetings, tabling, petitioning,” said Royster. “This could hopefully lead to an actual protest, sit-ins and marches.”
In the coming weeks, the group plans to gain traction by tabling to get more signatures on their petitions and holding more speaking events to get the word out.
“No one should have to choose between working and going to school, and no one should have to choose between studying and eating,” said Royster. “Fifteen dollars is just a livable wage, just enough to be able to survive.”
Sunny Morgan is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at SM848270@wcupa.edu. Her Twitter is @SunnyMorgan97.