Webster University’s student employees receive 85 cent pay raise but face anxiety working through pandemic


The pay increase comes as minimum wage went from $10.30 an hour to $11.15 an hour.

Webster University student employees receiving the minimum wage have seen their paychecks go last month. With the new year, the state of Missouri’s minimum wage grew from $10.30 an hour to $11.15. The minimum wage increase is the result of Proposition B’s passing in November 2018.

Maria Walls, a Webster University student, is currently working as a writing coach in the Academic Resource Center (ARC). She aids both undergraduate and graduate writers, students wishing to hone their craft and improve their grades. Some days, she must edit graduate theses, which are over 25 pages long, in less than an hour.

Walls is paid Missouri minimum wage for this position. With the increase, she has seen her hourly wage increase by 85 cents.

“Every dollar helps,” Walls said. “As a full-time student with a pet and their own apartment, I’m really glad to see our minimum wage increase.”

Despite the relief of an increased wage, Walls believes she should be making more than the minimum wage due to the “quality of work we’re supposed to put out and the extensive knowledge we’re supposed to have.”

Graphic by Kenzie Akins.

Seth Peters, a student employee at the University Center front desk, has been in the workforce since he was 15 years old. Peters has been employed by the university since December.

“Working during a pandemic in such a high traffic area puts me at great risk,” Peters, who has asthma, said. “Working in a pandemic is anxiety inducing, and neither the government nor the school has done enough to fight the pandemic for people like me who are on the ground level of this.”

Walls’ pandemic-work experience at Webster has differed from Peters.

“I think our working conditions during the pandemic have been better than most,” Walls said. “Last year, we worked virtually. This year, we take both masked in-person appointments in the Academic Resource Center, and virtual appointments through Zoom.”

Walls’ shared Peters’ pandemic anxieties, however, noting that high-traffic days in which she may have numerous appointments can be “nerve-wracking.”

“Overall, I really appreciate the support from my superiors at the ARC during this time,” Walls said. “We’ve been an especially important resource to students struggling with burnout amidst the pandemic. So, I’m happy to be here where students need me.”

Despite the positive outlook of her job, Walls informed The Journal the ARC has seen “mass exodus” of staff members leaving to take higher paying jobs or to work entirely remote for safety reasons.

“Our bosses want us to be paid more,” Walls said, “but it’s simply not up to them. The ARC is just not given enough money to increase our wages and salaries, which I think is a problem.”

The university did not comment on this story, stating it would violate the confidentiality of student records.


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Caleb Sprous
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