Lead student staffers at Miami University’s Recreational (REC) Center have long been the soul of the colossal building’s operations.
Besides interacting with customers, lead staffers at the REC are in charge of the facility’s upkeep, helping with membership recruitment and assisting injured patrons.
Although held to a plethora of responsibilities, lead student staffers at the REC are paid significantly lower wages than other student workers around campus, specifically those in dining halls, according to senior lead REC student staffer Matt Gingras.
“As you train up, I think you get a 10 cent raise an hour,” Gingras said. “But then [pay] gets capped off at $8.10 per hour.”
Following its completion in January, the Armstrong Student Center has been advertising a starting salary at $8.25 per hour for new student workers, with similar dining facilities, such as Bell Tower, offering similar starting salaries of $8.25 per hour.
In 2012, Miami University combined the fitness department and the customer service department, creating the office of Housing, Dining, Recreation and Business services. .This merger added the “serve-safe certification,” a certification for the proper handling of food, to the list of required certifications for staff at the REC.
Along with being certified to serve food, REC lead staff are required to have CPR certification through the American Red Cross, the CPR certification used by professional rescuers, as well as blood-born pathogen certification and training through the university.
Lead staff jobs also contain some administrative functions. Often working as managers on duty, lead student staffers help develop the student staff schedule, are directly in charge of students working under their own shift and are responsible for the training of new staff.
“Our lead staffers are wonderful,” Senior Director of Customer Services and Facility Management for the REC Ron Siliko said. “They’re our most talented staff, our most skilled staff and our most dedicated staff.”
A recent example of lead student staffers’ time commitment and dedication is their willingness to help fill shifts on short notice following a large spike in sickness this past month, Siliko said.
One reason for the difference in pay between REC staff workers and those at dining halls may be the high desirability for REC jobs. The REC usually gets 10 times the number of applications for the number of staff needed, Deth Cropenbaker, the REC’s Director of Fitness said.
“Generally, the less attractive a job is, the higher the wage will be for that job,” Cropenbaker said. “There are economic realities. If the university sets a rule, you follow the rule. If I say that one of my employees is worth this much to me, I’m not the one who gets to set that wage.”
The university has a freeze on raises, Cropenbaker said. They allow promotions as position changes and title changes, but they do not allow raises in pay.
“I believe that the workers at the REC should get higher pay,” Senior dining hall worker and active athlete Michael Shivers said. “Not only do they now serve food, but they have had the responsibility of saving people’s lives when they have a heart attack, and I don’t have to do that at a dining hall.”