Is low pay keeping workers out of the Caf?
Bon Appetit continues to search for student workers amidst staffing shortages. They have recently spread emails and flyers across the school. The flyers feature QR codes that link to an application to work at Stav Hall or The Cage. The emails ask for student workers and lists wages based on years of experience. Though applications — or guaranteed positions — for Stav Hall or The Cage have long been a part of St. Olaf’s student employment program, the push for more workers is relatively new. And though 79 percent of St. Olaf students attend the school with need-based aid, including work awards, Bon Appetit continues to struggle with serious staffing issues.
St. Olaf was not immune to the surge of unemployment and staffing shortages that accompanied the pandemic. In lieu of working in a busy dining hall during a pandemic, many students are now more inclined towards lower-contact jobs such as hall receptionists or office assistants.
Along with general shortages following the pandemic, St. Olaf has also seen controversy surrounding its minimum wage. The current minimum wage for student employment is 11 dollars per hour, recently bumped up from the 10.10 dollars per hour of the 2021-2022 academic year. The wage raise follows that of Carleton College, which recently raised its minimum wage to 12 dollars per hour. Although starting wages for Bon Appetit workers are now at a minimum of 12 dollars, many students don’t think this suffices for the amount of work that is being done.
Kenny Laysee ’24 said that she does enjoy her work, but believes it warrants more pay. “It’s been fun learning to make drinks, being a barista, but in general, I believe that any student job that is more hands-on, like making and serving food, deserves more than the minimum wage,” said Laysee, who has been working at The Cage for two years.
The general malaise among student workers and an opposition to job posts for The Cage or Stav Hall comes from both the accelerated jobs compared to lax jobs, and a recognition that the pay should be bumped up. Just a mile away, students could opt for a 15 dollars an hour pay at Target, Cub, or Subway.