UCCS minimum wage jumps to $14 for student workers

Student workers at UCCS may see bigger paychecks than last semester as they start on-campus jobs this fall.

In July, UCCS raised their minimum wage for student workers to $14 per hour, an increase of $1.05 from the previous $12.95.

Last year, the United Campus Workers of Colorado launched the “Fight for 15” campaign to raise UCCS’ minimum wage to $15 per hour. The UCW recognized the raise to $14 as a necessary change, though UCCS remains the only CU campus with a minimum wage under $15 per hour.

“I think that $12.95 wasn’t enough, so seeing [the minimum wage] move to $14 has been good,” said Eilex Rodriguez, a student employee involved with UCW. “It’s just that $14 is still not enough to live off of for most students.”

“With parking and healthcare … students, staff and faculty are all similarly having to pay to go to work,” Rodriguez said.

UCCS has not formally announced the minimum wage increase outside of their updated Student Employee Job Code and Pay Range Structure and has not acknowledged a correlation between the decision and the UCW’s campaign.

However, Assistant Director of Communications Jenna Press said that the university “definitely appreciated students making their voices heard” about the previous minimum wage.

“Raising the student minimum wage takes time,” she said, “but [this decision] was definitely a reflection of us listening to our students … and doing the best we could for them.”

According to Press, the university is excited to bring back Café 65 and other “pre-COVID institutions that [they] haven’t been able to offer for the past few years.” This will create jobs for incoming students entering the fall 2022 semester, aiming to reduce economic hardship amid rising inflation.

“We really appreciate our student workers,” Press said. “We understand that campus couldn’t run without them.”

However, raising wages for students now wasn’t always part of the plan. According to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Carlos García, the university previously planned to increase the wages of full-time staff in July, not the wages of student employees.

“They were completely okay with leaving [the minimum wage] at that little increase in January,” Rodriguez pointed out, referring to the 63-cent raise for UCCS student workers at the start of the spring 2022 semester.

Press said that due to the rising cost of gas and rent in Colorado Springs, the university’s budget plan changed in favor of providing students with enough financial stability to stay in school.

SGA vice president Aidan Clark addressed this issue of student wages earlier this year when UCW delivered the “Fight for 15” petition directly to the Office of the Chancellor.

“[The current minimum wage] should be a concern for the university because it harms their retention rate,” Clark said at the petition delivery in April. “If students can’t afford to work here, they’ll have to drop out.”

Rodriguez — who predicted that UCCS would be unlikely to directly name the “Fight for 15” campaign as an influencing factor to the minimum wage increase — explained that it was up to the students and those involved with the UCW to feel empowered by whatever pressure they may have put on the university to reevaluate their budget.

Although perspectives on the current minimum wage on campus vary, both the university and UCW seem hopeful about the future of student employment at UCCS.

Rodriguez said the UCW is collaborating with other CU campuses, namely Denver and Anschutz, to uncover the impacts of cost of living on student workers and other CU staff and determine how the CU system can reduce this impact with wage increases and other modes of economic aid.

Photo by Meghan Germain.