Sophomores set sights on changing student worker minimum wage across Georgia

A group of Emory University sophomores pushed for the school to adopt a $15 minimum wage for student workers. They now want to rally students at other schools in the state.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:29 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The University System of Georgia offers student work opportunities at 26 public colleges and universities but allows each school to decide how much to compensate their workers.

“The University System of Georgia’s commitment to student employment provides students with financial support in pursuit of their academic goals while offering opportunities for academic and workforce experience. Each of the system’s 26 public colleges and universities has the responsibility to establish student employment programs, including appropriate compensation structures commensurate with the work that is performed. Because of this, program structures vary across the system.”

-The University System of Georgia

Elisabet Ortiz and Alysha Posternak are celebrating a victory. The Emory University sophomores pushed the administration to increase student worker pay from $9 to at least $15 an hour. The change was just approved to take effect in 2024.

“It affects every part of your life if you can afford health insurance, textbooks, and school supplies,” said Ortiz.

The Department of Education says students struggling financially are more likely to leave school before receiving a degree. Ortiz almost became part of that statistic.

“I experienced homelessness as a freshman at Emory University. My friend and peers opened their doors for me and showed me support and I got to be a student again and got on my feet,” said Ortiz.

The American Council of Education estimates more than a third of college students are considered low-income. Many turn to jobs on campus to pay tuition, afford to live in a dorm, or eat on the school’s meal plan.

" We have already been contacted by students at other universities who are interested and we think this could make a difference for other students we really want to help,” said Posternak.

They’re looking to expand the program to other universities to activate student workers making under what’s considered a livable wage.

Dalton State University in North Georgia recently increased the student worker minimum wage to $9.25. In a statement to Atlanta News First, a spokesperson states, “Dalton State recently increased the minimum pay for student workers to $9.25 an hour effective July 1, 2022. We do not currently have a plan for another increase at this time; however, we will continue evaluating the economy and make plans to adjust the minimum student worker wage as needed.”

The pair said if students want to start a branch of Students for Students they can email