Mike Drop: Funding for college students is fundamentally bankrupt 

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As college students prepare themselves for the real world, they learn how to advocate for themselves and balance their priorities. Such skills can be applied to various contexts, but perhaps they’re particularly relevant within the employment scene. You may have to speak out against your employer’s unfair treatment of you, whether they’re preventing you from fulfilling your duties effectively or failing to compensate you properly for your time and effort. You may also have to determine how best to disperse said time and effort among a wide range of obligations within and beyond the workplace. Unfortunately, our universities’ backwards approach to student employment only exacerbates these challenges. 

Athletes comprise one sect of the college student population that’s particularly prone to asinine labor conditions. Take a look at two cases from Nov. 8 involving high-profile prospects. Star Ohio State defensive end Chase Young faced indefinite suspension for—wait for it—borrowing money from a family friend to fly his girlfriend to last season’s Rose Bowl, a loan which he’s since repaid. Oh, the horror! His Memphis basketball counterpart, James Wiseman, was ruled ineligible to play by the NCAA because Penny Hardaway, currently his collegiate head coach and formerly his high school assistant coach, “paid Wiseman’s family $11,500 in moving expenses and aid” in 2017. Again, how sinful! 

It’d be one thing if these two athletes and their families acted maliciously or explicitly intended to break the rules, but it appears that this couldn’t be further from the truth, and so the initial punishments clearly don’t fit the crimes. These incidents support the popular belief that the NCAA partakes in unmitigated tomfoolery via its “guilty until proven innocent” approach and the enactment of its strict, outdated rules, and that collegiate athletes, who provide a service for their school as do all other student employees, merit financial compensation. 

But athletes aren’t the only college student employees who endure such unjustness and harm, for the universitywide pay-per-hour labor system is inherently flawed. Imposing separate weekly time limits for classes and employment enables students to bite off more than they can chew while restricting those who want or need to work and earn money. Alternatively, I’d suggest maintaining the threshold of class time that constitutes full-time status while setting a combined weekly time limit for classes and employment. In this way, universities could still prioritize education and prevent students from taking on too much, but also provide greater flexibility to those who want or need to work and earn money. My other major gripe is that some jobs don’t provide enough compensation or hours to constitute a livable wage. Students shouldn’t be tasked with working multiple jobs in order to survive independently, as generally it isn’t required or encouraged in the real world, and it’s difficult enough to fully commit to an education and one job. Rather, all university jobs should provide at least minimum wage and enough duties to satisfy the number of hours necessary to earn a sustainable weekly income. 

Ultimately, there’s nothing fun or funny about it: Funding for college students is fundamentally bankrupt. Well-intentioned students devote ample time and effort to prolonging their alma maters’ operation with little to show for it. Our universities ought to return the favor and stop exploiting their constituents. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual writers in the opinion section do not reflect the views and opinions of The Daily Campus or other staff members. Only articles labeled “Editorial” are the official opinions of The Daily Campus.

Thumbnail photo (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)


Michael Katz is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.i.katz@uconn.edu.

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