Fordham Excludes Itself from Paying Student Workers Minimum Wage in 2019


On Sept. 25, 2018, Fordham administrators received an email stating the university will not pay student workers minimum wage next semester. Fordham will instead continue to pay student workers at most $13 per hour, excluding itself from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legislation to raise the New York minimum wage to $15 per hour starting in 2019.

The university stated it will “exercise its right” to cap student worker salaries under the legislation’s exclusions for not-for-profit organizations “operated exclusively for charitable, educational or religious purposes” and students attending an institution with intent to achieve a degree, certificate or diploma.

Despite its legality, Dylan Katz, the assistant director of the center for community Engaged Learning, believes this exclusion does not necessarily fall in line with Fordham’s values “It’s probably not a loophole that is in place for an institution that employs hundreds of folks and also requires tuition in the amount of 60 grand a year,” Katz said. “It does seem, in my opinion, a bit exploitative and also it’s not a very Jesuit thing to do.”

Fordham pays its student workers through a federal grant, which means the university possesses the means to pay workers the new minimum wage by reducing worker hours across the board.

“Ultimately its an issue of dignity, of not recognizing the dignity of student workers who a lot of times do monumental amounts of work,” Katz said. “I think it’s super disrespectful to them and not looking out for those who are building the foundation of the college.”

Student workers themselves did not receive the email concerning their payment next semester; Katz saw no directive to tell workers about the message and took it upon himself to spread the news.

“I think its contributing more to what I see as a culture of distrust toward the administration,” Katz said about the situation’s larger context. “It’s hard for me, as a member of this administration, to say that I care about the communities we work with and the communities that make Fordham to valuable to then have to say: ‘you’re not valuable enough to make the minimum wage.’”