As a member of the University of Mississippi, you have subscribed to the UM Creed. However, there are other members of the university who work on campus for only $10.10 per hour and live 100 percent below the 2016 federal poverty guidelines. According to the Center for American Progress, Mississippi is ranked 51st in overall poverty (for children and working women). So, by keeping the campus minimum wage where it is, the University is contributing to the large percentage of Mississippians who live in, or near, poverty.
How could a campus that believes in the dignity and respect of each person provide such measly pay for its workforce?
Researchers at MIT have shown that one working adult with two dependents living in Lafayette County needs to earn $24.61 to be financially stable. One worker we spoke with makes roughly $8.50 per hour, which is $17,680 a year, assuming she is able to work full-time, year-round. The food caterer’s job on campus is just as important as that of the assistant manager at the Ole Miss Inn, who makes $17.89 per hour.
We think it is only fair to increase the wages to enable the workers, who contribute to the university on multiple levels (doing jobs that others do not want or care to do), to be able to afford childcare, transportation, and other bills.
This is the state’s flagship university, so raising the campus minimum wage would be a great step forward. It is unjust to live off just $7.25 to $10.10 per hour and struggle to pay bills, tuition, take care of kids, buy groceries and assist with personal needs. The campus minimum wage should be raised to more than just $10.10 per hour, at least $15.50 per hour. We honor the Creed; we honor the livelihood of our community. Let us make this positive change.
Jamie Thomas is a senior general studies major from Tunica.
Tyesha Jones is a junior psychology major from Olive Branch.
Cory Hughes is a senior psychology major from Forest.