Student Support for changing “Leadership Awards”

Student Support for changing “Leadership Awards”

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Willamette Students started this petition to Willamette University

Willamette “Leadership Awards” as a substitute to underpay and undervalue students work

As of Fall semester 2021 Willamette has made the decision to switch a large number of jobs on campus from hourly pay to “leadership awards.” These awards were defined by Lisa Holliday and the committee to be given to students whose positions would “not exist without the presence of students on campus” and to those “who aid in education enrichment, teaching, and leading students on campus”

The university claims to be fairly compensating students who receive these awards because:

“The students in these positions are not doing the same work as other students on campus are doing” - For example the CSL Project Facilitators works is “not comparable” to a Library Circulation Assistant
They were supposedly created to make pay more “equitable and reduce disparities between pay for similar work.”

The university claims to have used an equation to determine awards that was based on:

Months worked per year + hours worked per week + job level (staff, coordinator, manager) but yet could not account for these numbers in their “master chart.”

The equations however significantly undervalued and under estimated the amount of hours that students in these positions work, and claimed to have “consulted” managers though many students were left in the dark in regards to what amount they would be receiving.

The reality of these awards is that they significantly underpay students and undervalue the work that they do, positions in programs like CSL, SFS, Sparks and others across campus have equal amounts of workload as other jobs on campus and the university refuses to admit this. 

They also refuse to adjust their equation based on mistakes to the inputs, saying that even if hours were adjusted to be more accurate of the workload, they would likely not fund these adjustments. 

These awards significantly underpay students and the university has expressed that they will not adjust the awards nor do they have any plans in place to help students who have been negatively impacted. The jobs whose pay they have cut are highly promoted by the school and exploited and yet they are unwilling to provide just compensation. 

Other important information to keep in mind in terms of leadership awards 

To break it down further and give a specific example of how workers pay has changed, CSL which typically works 4-6 hours per week is currently being paid for 2.3 hours per week =  $29 per week and are suddenly no longer being paid for the parts of their job where they are facilitating and directing actual community service. Not only was this not communicated before the hiring process, but was not shared until students requested the information a week into the semesters start.

The university frequently promotes the programs and advertises them as organizations that contribute significantly to our campus. Yet they are unwilling to fairly compensate students for the jobs or “projects” (as they are now framing them) that contribute so significantly to the student body. 

Many students who just found out how much they will be making and the huge infrequency of their pay now have very little opportunity to find jobs on campus that they could have applied for if the university had been transparent. A number of these students do not have access to transportation for other jobs and have difficult schedules. 

When asked if the University would fix these inequalities and issues within the pay equation (months + hours + work level) students were told that they would likely see no change in their awards regardless.

The use of leadership awards allows the university to bypass labor laws, as a number of students have pointed out, and not provide fair compensation for things like overtime and other important job protections.

This is not the first time the University has unfairly paid students, and they cannot be allowed to continue to do this to students. Many of which have expressed that they are afraid to say something out of fear of losing the little income that they will be receiving. 



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