To be a student worker at Goucher can mean many things. Job hours range drastically from two hours a week to twenty. Many students’ long hours of work results in their social life, clubs, and, most importantly, education being sidelined. With the addition of long work comes increased stress levels. Mental health cannot be ignored and doing such can create more hardship. It is not uncommon for Goucher students to feel overwhelmed when pressure and stress comes from multiple directions. School work plus additional jobs added to social or emotional issues can really take a toll on students. When students need to work on campus just to afford to attend, it is understandable when students feel forced to put education behind their job. While time management is an important lesson of life, it can be a very real challenge to make ends meet with so many responsibilities. There needs to be more support for student workers; too many feel overburdened by the challenges they are being dealt. If an issue arises with their job, it could very easily be the stressful tipping point for them, and confronting that problem alone can feel overwhelming.
For such reasons student workers should be allowed to form workers unions, or a type of collective. This is not to say that student workers are being mistreated by their supervisors per se. This is a statement that must be understood from the perspective of students who share many common struggles. It can be hard as a worker to approach your supervisor, no matter how comfortable you are with them, and make your voice heard. A union of student workers will provide students with the opportunity to come together as equals and discuss their work and how to support each other. Support for students need to come from peers, not only “adults.”
A collective or a union would be instrumental in allowing student workers to consolidate their opinions together and form a common group to lobby and make their voices heard in a more effective way than simply complaining to their supervisors independently. If students were to meet regularly and reach agreements on issue pertaining to their work, such as pay, hours, responsibilities, and more job-specific issues, it will allow for better work cohesion and the understanding that no student is isolated. Students workers would be able to communicate their needs and wants better as a group in an official manner. This could be used by supervisors to help make adjustments based off of a organized majority opinion.
Ibrahim Juhass, a senior physics and economics double major, has been an RA for three years and has worked in IT for four years. His thoughts were as follows:
“I think it is a great idea to have a collective or union student group to support each other. I believe it can only work for some jobs, specifically First-Year Mentors, RAs Librarians, and Ambassadors. It could be helpful if there were new policy changes were being implemented with the input of a student group or union. Students should have the right to know what changes are happening and voice their opinions about them. Additionally, it is important to make sure there is no abuse from students asking for unreasonable complaints.”
Yuchen Ding, a first-year Ambassador who works about eight hours a week as an Ambassador, had this to say when asked:
“I think it makes a lot of sense for us. The power of who decides the work schedule is only with two students and sometimes they mess things up. A union would also help communication between workers and could be used to ask for better pay or benefits.”
Connor Harrington is a sophomore communications major working as a Technical Assistant who works about eight hours a week making minimum wage. When asked he said, “Union to me would mean protection, rights, and solidarity. I do think students should have a right to organize within the school…potentially even with outside organizations if appropriate.”
There is clearly a need for such student-run institutions at Goucher. Such organizations would not inherently be in opposition to the established work policies, but can and should work in conjunction with the already in place student employment infrastructure. The right to meet and come to common agreements on issues that pertain to them all should be expressed here at Goucher even if there is no established precedent for them yet. Such outlined proposals would produce a larger and more stable student workforce at Goucher, and would have indirect benefits to the campus community at large.