Put up or shut up

Some people's stacks are significantly smaller. Kevin Schneider from Pixabay

Pay your staff, damn it

In case you haven’t read my incessant babbling, we pay contributors now. Twenty bucks per article. This article is less about self-promotion than it is about how thankful I am to have backing from students like we do, to be able to create the work that we have, and to continue to create paid opportunities for creative folks on this campus.

However, it takes more than one student newspaper yelling about the needs of students for change to be made. One group trying to make that change is Fight for 15. Here’s their mission statement, courtesy of their website:

“Fight for 15 is comprised of low wage workers and labour advocates who recognize the need for all workers to make a decent wage – for those of us making less than $15/hour, we know what it’s like to struggle to get by.”

To look further, precarity isn’t just a Regina issue, obviously, and folks who are the backbone of your degree may well be struggling. In fact, it was one of the main sticking points in the recent URFA versus campus administration negotiations, with sessionals living minimally as admin positions continue to expand.

Outside of the university, a recent CBC article highlighted Aleana Young’s quest to own business that *shock* pays its people fairly.

“I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I fundamentally believe in a living wage [. . .] I don’t think that keeping people living in poverty or below the poverty line is sustainable for society.

“I wanted to see if I could live my values and work it into a feasible and successful business.”

Surprise, she could with Takeaway Gourmet. Meanwhile, education students spend a full semester’s worth of tuition to work for free, co-op costs $920 for four months of work, unpaid internships are rife in the media landscape, and students are living on scraps to pull themselves towards a fantasy. The fact that some of my friends unironically joke about dying before they pay off their student loans hints to this sad state of affairs. Previous generations thought millions unattainable, but people my age think a house is going to be an impossible luxury.

So, if we’re fucking over our students, our young, our old, and writing political manifestos for the ever shrinking middle class, who exactly is left? Conservatives and liars, I guess.

I take solace in the fact that my staff continues to disrupt the narrative that millennials (hi, that means most sessionals and young faculty as well) are lazy and entitled. We’re too poor to be entitled, too tired to be marching every second of every day, and too angry to explain for the thousandth time why minimum wage workers should be able to more than just survive.

Lesson learned: don’t tweet about income inequality if you want happiness in your life, don’t assume the financial situation of those around you, and (the obvious) contribute to your student newspaper so that they can pay you.

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