Employment Office makes pay guidelines

by Charlie Rafkin | 3/6/13 11:00pm

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The Student Employment Office developed new optional standards for student pay rates across campus.
by Gavin Huang / The Dartmouth

Since hiring full-time student employment consultant Kari Jo Grant in June, the Student Employment Office has developed new, non-mandatory standards to assist employers in determining pay structures for student positions. The guidelines will provide supervisors with greater clarity regarding appropriate pay rates for all student employees, from the Class of 1953 Commons to Alumni Gym.

Devoting a full-time position to students reflects an increased focus on undergraduate employment on campus, said Cheryl Josler, payroll shared services director.

The new guidelines encourage employers to consider a job's complexity and skill requirements in addition to standard campus rates when determining pay. With the goal of improving cross-campus wage consistency, Grant also created a recommended student hourly rate structure worksheet. Using the worksheet, campus employers will have more precise guidelines for hourly wages ranging from the minimum wage to more than $12.25, taking into account workload demands.

The guidelines are not mandatory because the Student Employment Office wanted to offer departments enough flexibility to meet their budgets, Grant said.

When developing the guidelines, Grant surveyed student employment policies at campuses across the country, focusing on other Ivy League schools as well as nearby institutions.

Although some schools' administrators dictate pay rates for student positions, Dartmouth did not consider centralizing the process. Giving supervisors the ultimate power to set pay rates makes the most sense for the College, Grant said.

The Student Employment Office decided to release new guidelines to help alleviate employers' uncertainty regarding pay rates, as even experienced employers face confusion.

"Supervisors want to do the best they can, but they didn't have the tools," she said.

Grant said she expects the change to be subtle.

Currently, the Student Employment Office enforces a minimum wage and reviews wages within departmental budgets.

"We are checking for reasonability, but we aren't administering down to thou shalt pay' for this amount of work," Josler said.

While Collis Center coordinator Quita Davis said Collis would change its pay rates to comply with the guidelines, other administrators said they did not expect significant changes to student wages.

Green Corps phonathon program manager Shari Boraz said she does not expect to shift from the a current pay rate of $10.50 per hour.

Similarly, the Chinese drill program is unlikely to change its wages, said Hua-yuan Mowry, a Chinese professor and head of Chinese drill instruction and hiring.

Baker-Berry management services director Lora Thompson welcomes the guidelines due to the previous lack of clarity. She hopes they guidelines will be implemented throughout campus.

"It's nice to have guidelines, but if people don't follow them, then you're still going to have inequities across the system," Thompson said.

Since the library hires up to 225 students, Jennifer Taxman, associate librarian for user services, said she appreciates the flexibility allowed.

Students also stressed the importance of flexibility in establishing pay rates.

Christian Ledesma '16, who works at '53 Commons, said current pay rates for students working for Dartmouth Dining Services are appropriate, pointing out that '53 Commons employees deserve to receive higher compensation than Novack Cafe employees because their work is more strenuous.

Alex Jiang '13, who has worked as a Chinese drill instructor, study group leader and note-taker, said that different campus jobs require different levels of skill and selectivity.

"That's where the premium of pay comes in," she said.

While she supports streamlined pay standards in theory, she said she is unsure how administrators would assess each job's level of responsibility.

Brett Losen '14, who works at the Courtyard Cafe, the Tucker Foundation and Alumni Gym, said that each of his positions requires a range of tasks, making it difficult to quantify pay rates.

Due to on-the-job flexibility, centralized, mandatory guidelines would not be successful, he said.

Jane Cai '13, who has worked seven campus jobs, said a discrepancy exists between pay rates for note-taking and tutoring.

"Assessing my own level of effort for each job and thinking critically about how I was paid, it's not always proportional," she said.

For now, however, employment flexibility is more important than standardization, Cai said.

The Student Employment Office will also switch from paper to electronic timesheets and has developed a new website and data integrity system, Grant said.

**The print version of this article incorrectly stated that Kari Jo Grant was previously responsible for temporary workforce management as well as student employment. In fact, before becoming the student employment coordinator in June, Grant was the College's health education coordinator.*