By Adrienne Bishop
Rider student workers had a turbulent start to the academic year. For the last two and a half months, they have struggled to receive proper pay for their work at the university. For students on a student loan payment plan, or for those who have regular bills to pay, this issue is incredibly pressing.
Despite the recent issues with payment, they did not start with the school year; some students have had payment problems since the summer preceding the fall 2023 semester. Senior psychology major Meghan Ryan, who worked as a supplemental instructor this past summer, had to wait a month to receive payment for a two-week pay period. “It was just an absolute disaster trying to figure out how to get my money that I … worked for,” said Ryan.
Ryan recounts having to repeatedly badger the university for the money she was owed, and despite her efforts, it still took roughly a month for the pay period to be paid in full.
While not being able to pay students on time and in full is shameful, this issue brought to light a larger problem within the student worker community: the need for a student worker union. This issue was most prominent in the way that the Academic Success Center strike was averted.
Thirteen employees for the ASC had threatened to strike if they were not properly paid, and the university met their deadline and paid the students. Although this could be generously labeled a “success” for certain student workers, there are still issues. This trend of the university holding their finances close to their chest can be seen in their reluctance to release financial reports regarding costs and profit from this year’s controversial changes to parking permits.
If the university could pay these 13 workers and supposedly make them whole, why could this have not been done when the university was aware of payment issues? As soon as the university was aware, every step should have been taken toward getting student workers who were missing checks paid.
The third issue is less of a mystery than the others; these students were paid because they took decisive action. By threatening to strike, they backed the university into a corner and got what they were owed.
This resolution to the ASC strike illuminates a truth that student workers across campus must recognize: we need a student worker union now. With a student worker union, things will change for the better for all of Rider’s student workers. For one, it would ensure everybody is talking about their wages, when they’re being paid and how they’re being paid. This promotes accountability for the university and ensures that student workers are never left in the dark. Along with accountability, a union would allow for more drastic strike action. Imagine if all of the estimated workers missing wages threatened to strike? Now imagine if a majority of the hundreds of student workers on campus threatened to strike in solidarity.
Unions work, plain and simple. With the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes recently concluding with massive deals in favor of the unions, we are living in a union renaissance of sorts. The sooner Rider’s student workers organize, the sooner conditions can improve.
Do not be afraid to make noise. Do not be afraid to talk to your fellow workers. Progress can only be made with complete and total solidarity. While I do not condemn the 13 ASC workers for getting paid, I can only ask: why should we be expected to stop at 13?
Managing Editor Jake Tiger and Copy Editor Bridget Hoyt both work for the Academic Success Center and had no part in the writing or editing of this story.