The Problem with Student Wages

Haverford and Bryn Mawr students speak out about campus jobs

By Amana Abdurrezak

There are two types of students at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges: those who do work, and those must also go to work.

For the former, work requires setting aside time outside of lectures and lab sessions to finish papers and problem sets. But for almost 1,500 Bryn Mawr and Haverford students, work is more than classwork—it’s also attached to the on-campus job they have.

On both campuses, students spend an average of six-to-eight hours per week managing front desks, helping fellow students with class assignments, ensuring smooth operation of the dining halls, and attracting prospective students to the Bi-College community. The list of student jobs is a long one.

Based on their home campus, the type of job they have and their experience level, students are paid between $9 and $11.15 an hour. What do they think of their jobs and their wages?

To find out, our News and Feature Writing class interviewed over 85 students on both campuses to understand the nature of student jobs in the Bi-Co and find out if students believe they are paid fairly for the work they do. Here are our findings:

  • Since many jobs on-campus allow students to only work up to a certain number of hours, it’s very common for students to sidestep that restriction by having multiple jobs.
  • Students who use their earnings for smaller purchases like food, clothing or setting aside money for savings accounts are generally satisfied with their pay. However, many recognized that they are satisfied because they don’t have to worry about bigger costs like tuition. The students who use their earnings to pay for tuition, room and board, bills, or even sending money to family back home, wish their wages were higher. Their money is not used for extras but for the basics.
  • Opinions on pay depended on how demanding the student’s job was. Those who work low-pressure jobs were satisfied with their wage. Those who felt their jobs were more laborious or required more expertise were also generally satisfied with their pay, but felt that they should be paid more.
  • The fact that both campuses’ baseline pay is higher than Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour factored into many students’ opinions. This trend remained consistent with out-of-state students who compared their wages on-campus to their home states.

We also noticed that Haverford’s baseline pay of $9 an hour is a dollar lower than Bryn Mawr’s baseline of $10 an hour, despite having most of the same jobs across both campuses.

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Bills, Bills, Bills

For many in the Bi-Co, juggling multiple jobs on top of classes is the norm, but many can justify adding a job or two to their schedule if it means they can enjoy nights out in Philadelphia with friends or a new pair of boots when the weather gets chillier.

However, some students have to use their earnings to pay for larger expenses.

Princess Jefferson, a Bryn Mawr College junior, juggles supervisory positions at two dining service establishments. At Haffner Dining Hall and Wyndham Alumnae House, she delegates duties to workers, oversees the desert bar, and drives Wyndham’s catering van. When she isn’t in class or working in dining services, she’s at the Civic Engagement Office prepping ACT/SAT test-prep curricula or driving a Bryn Mawr van for student programs. At all of her jobs, she makes $10.95 an hour, working a total of 36 hours a week.

“For all of my jobs except one, I think I get a fair wage,” said Jefferson. She puts all of her earnings towards tuition, food, her phone, and transportation.

“If I take into account the management at Wyndham & how my back feels after work, then I think we should get paid at least $12 an hour,” she said.

Continue reading

Hosting a ‘Shabbanukkah’ Dinner

Young Jews find new ways to celebrate old traditions

By Sasha Rogelberg 

In Judaism, welcoming strangers into one’s home is considered a commandment and virtue.  For Shosh Lovett-Graff and Rel Bogom-Shanon, two Jewish food justice activists, it means an opportunity to create the Jewish community they have yet to find as recent college graduates living in Philadelphia.

On a Friday night in early December, the intersection of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, and the fifth night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, Lovett-Graff and Bogom-Shanon decide to host a “Shabbanukkah” dinner. Each would invite a few people over who did not already know each other. Everyone would bring something over and break bread together.

Bogom-Shanon expected guests to arrive at “around seven,” which really, to her, meant before 8:00 p.m.  Over the course of an hour, about seven people file into her kitchen. They drop off the side dishes they brought onto the wooden island and pour themselves a mug of cider warmed in a Crock Pot that has seen better days.  Most pour a glug of brown liquor into their mugs too.  It’s cold and rainy out, after all.

Bogom-Shanon is trying her best to make small talk, but mostly she’s incessantly checking her small challah in the oven.

“About an hour ago, I realized it’s Shabbat and we don’t have a challah, so I just decided to make one!” she explains.

She just started watching The Great British Bake-Off, a British baking competition that has gained popularity in the United States, thanks to Netflix, and feels inspired.  Despite her admiration of the show, Bogom-Shanon knows her challah needs some help.  It didn’t have enough time to proof, for the yeast to absorb the sugars and expand the bread into the fluffy and eggy loaf she is familiar with.  She keeps opening the oven door, then closing it, then opening it again.  The challah looks the same every time she checks on it: a small braided log, pale, with a crack running right through it.

Scraps of fried beet, potato, and sweet potato are piled on top of the stove above the oven.  It’s the latke graveyard, the remnants of the fried pancakes cooling on a tray on the kitchen island.  Bogom-Shanon picks at the crispy fried bits every time she checks the bread.

Meanwhile, Lovett-Graff is coolly leaning against the counter by the cider and booze. She’s trying to facilitate conversation, insisting everyone goes around and introduces each other.  It seems likes she’s the only person in the room who knows everyone else. Continue reading

Underground Philadelphia

Students unlock the secrets of the region’s geology

By Stephanie Widzowski

Mineralogy, one of the four 200-level major requirements for geology students, has been taught in a myriad of ways – some more successful than others. Professor Selby Cull-Hearth has tried everything from lectures to a life-like research experience. She works hard to create the best environment for students every year.

She refuses to assign a textbook because none of them explain mineralogy well enough. So she writes her own chapters on Microsoft Word, draws her own figures, and uploads them all to Moodle.

This year class time is entirely for the students. Need to study for the next exam? Pore over the readings or work with someone else to quiz the concepts. Test your memory with optional Moodle quizzes or get familiar with a tray of minerals in the back of the classroom.

All the deadlines are listed on Google Sheets files  Cull-Hearth made, and all students have to do is fill their box in green after finishing something. It’s collaborative, so people can see where others are stuck and offer a hand.Cull-Hearth is there to help too, but students often depend on each other more.

Final exams and papers are standard, but this final is neither.

The class is putting together something the whole Bi-Co can enjoy: an exhibit to go in the long-empty display cases in Park Science Building. It will tell the geologic story of Philadelphia and the evidence behind it.

“The best way to know what you know is by explaining things to others,” said Cull-Hearth.

But telling the entire geologic story of the region, a history over a billion years old? Where should a handful of undergraduate students start? And what does mineralogy have to do with it?

Scholars like Howard Bosbyshell have spent decades studying the region and published papers on their work. To start, each person in the class picked a local rock unit and scanned the articles for any mention of it, trying to figure out the age of the rock and how the experts think it formed.

The major rock units being studied and where they meet the Earth’s surface. Cull-Hearth.

 

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the rocks in this region. For one, there are hardly any exposures that aren’t covered in plants or weathered by rain, and getting funding to excavate rock is near impossible. Continue reading

How Does a Writer Write?

Novelist and Teacher Daniel Torday explains how it is done


By Ana Azevedo

It is said that those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. But what about the lucky few who get to do both?

Daniel Torday is a professor and the director of creative writing at Bryn Mawr college. He is also an author. More specifically, he is a novelist and short story writer.

His students at Bryn Mawr know him as their quirky, funny professor. A man who is always around to listen and give advice, whether it be about their writing or just life in general. He is someone who is kind, but also direct. Understanding, but firm. He is relatable, and outspoken about his views.

Daniel Torday

For example, all his students know how he feels about our current president. Hint; he is not a fan. He is the type of professor who would bring donuts on the last day of classes, but not without bringing along a substitute for any students with dietary restrictions. It’s obvious to whoever knows him personally that he cares about his students and their personal journeys as writers, very much. That is the man who his students and colleagues know.

But to the literary world, he isn’t just a quirky professor, he is a star.  He has written and published three books, “The Last Flight of Poxl West”, “The Sensualist”, and “Boomer1”. His 2012 novella, “The Sensualist”, won the National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction.

In 2015, his novel, “The Last Fight of Poxl West”, was published and received a glowing review from The New York Times. It was even featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. Along with winning several other prizes, the novel was also long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award, one of literature’s most esteemed prizes.

His most recent work, Boomer1, has seen it’s own share of literary acclaim. His short stories have been featured in the New York Times, and in the Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays series.

To the world, he is a well respected author, but if you asked him what his definition of literary success looks like he would smile and say, “My dear friend the YA [young adult] novelist John Green once said, you know, the success is good, but it’s about touching one reader, somewhere, who really just gets it and loves it. So that.”

Torday does what he does because he loves it, plain and simple. This is clear from the way his eyes light up when you reach out to him to discuss writing and literature, from the way he gestures dramatically when the subject of his favorite novel comes up, and from his dedication to showing his students what works and what doesn’t in the world of writing. Continue reading

Work Hard, Play Harder

A snow day at the Phoebe Anna Thorne School

By Amana Abdurrezak

8:00 a.m. – The Calm Before the Storm

Early-bird parents, many who drop off their kids on their way to work, enter the Phoebe Anna Thorne School in the morning with a sigh of relief. Unlike the chilly air and silvery clouds that have enveloped the air outside, inside the school is a warm and colorful cocoon.

With hues of red and yellow, the entrance resembles an L shape: At the shorter end, some parents greet the teachers who oversee the kids’ day of play. At the longer end, others chat and examine the row of picture books that sit atop a long bookshelf.

Thorne School parents can find informational material about play-based learning and logistics at eye level regardless of where they stand. But three-feet below rows of flyers, the kids that trot in the entrance gravitate towards the whiteboard nestled outside of the pre-K classroom. It hints at the day ahead in different shades of purple marker.

It’s Thursday: Water beads, Pumpkin bars, Snow?!?

***

The Method Behind the Madness

The Phoebe Anna Thorne School, located on both Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College’s campuses, is an untraditional option for parents thinking about early education programs. The school is modeled around the philosophy of “play-based learning” and has kindergarten, toddler, preschool, language-enrichment and early-intervention programs.

“We focus on child development as opposed to academics,” says Amanda Ulrich, the director of the Thorne School, “We think about each individual child and what their needs are whereas a lot of other schools stick with a curriculum.”

Ulrich is normally hustling around the floor, especially on late-minute snow days when kids need to go home early. In her calf-high boots, black leggings, and jersey-shirt-and-cardigan combo, she is answering questions from kids, figuring out logistics with teachers, and answering phone calls from parents.

You won’t find her wearing a hat, but she wears many of them as the director of the small operation. Her roles range from admissions and supervising the staff, to making sure there’s enough toilet paper in the bathroom and the kids get home safely.

Managing administrative work and budgeting are challenges, but she thoroughly enjoys her job and the mission of the school.

“The philosophy is rewarding because it’s organic and you see growth in ways that aren’t forced. Different kids have different experiences and you get to see them flower and bloom in different ways,” says Ulrich while keeping an eye on a boy who is anxious to get a glance at the snow. Continue reading

His Appointed Rounds

A day in the life of a man who delivers the U.S. Mail

By Aarionna Goodman

6635-37 Charles Street: Mayfair Garden Apartments

There was power at the end of his gold chain. As he swung it back and forth in his gloved palm, the keys jingled and clanged against each other, announcing their unordinary presence.

“Do not duplicate” they all read in tiny raised letters.

He had on Under Armour sneakers and the standard issued blue with navy striped pant; which was pressed and creased to perfection.

“The loss of feeling always starts with your fingers,” he said in light of the cold day. “They no longer feel like your own, or like they’re a part of your body.”

His hood was drawn around his neck and tied under his chin to block out the biting wind. On his back, under the official seal of the eagle read, “United States Postal Service” in capital white letters. On his shoulder, reaching the middle of his left side, sat his bag. Big, wonderful and endless. It held the lives of the people around him. Cable bills, PECO bills, acceptance letters, or credit card applications. All and more have seen the insides of this blue canvas bag.

His possession of both the keys and the bag, however, was not unique.

Many other Mail Carriers swung their chains and wore their bags over their shoulders. There is, however, only one Aaron Goodman; and this route is his route.

Goodman, 43, husband, and father of three, has been with the Postal Service for almost 16 years. During those years, Goodman has carried for three different stations; this station marks his third route which he has been with for three years.

Northeast Philadelphia was colorful under the afternoon Fall sky. Trees were almost bare with the steady tones of red and brown hanging onto their branches. With the snow the day before turning to slush underfoot, the world looked muted and wet. The colors seemed pale without the shining of the sun. The cold breeze that brushed against the skin bit in small bites. Continue reading

The Journey to Tandoori

It’s been a long road for the manager of Tiffin Restaurant 

By Arub Butt

There are people with otherwise chaotic and disorganized lives, a certain type of person that’s always found a home in the restaurant business in much the same way that a lot of people find a home in the military.” – Anthony Bourdain

Dinner at 5?

The hustle and bustle of the kitchen was pressed into the ears of anyone who was present, creating an atmosphere of intrigue and slight alarm around any observers. Five people scurried around the kitchen, shouting orders and directions at each other, working at top speed to get orders out in the two-hour service time.

“It usually starts getting busy around 5:00, especially on a Saturday,” says Rudra Regmi, manager of Bryn Mawr’s popular Tiffin restaurant. His thick Nepalese accent and heavily-accented English give an impression of a hardworking, humble and uncomplicated man.

“I don’t really understand why, but that’s normally the time the dinner service begins.”

However, Regmi runs a tight ship, taking phone orders, serving customers, while directing his staff…Its sheer theater, a nightly performance he and his staff have mastered.

“Most of our customer base ends up being Americans who like the fact that there’s something different to try locally. There’s also lots of business coming from Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College.” Regmi pauses to run and answer the phone, one of many pauses yet to come.

He returns having yelled through a spicy korma and rice order, to be delivered as soon as possible.

“There’s around 20-30 orders every night, sometimes the weekly count gets up to 60 or 70. People like to order takeout more than dining in, and there aren’t many people who come in and actually sit down to eat.”

The proof is in the pudding, or more accurately, the empty dining area.

“I managed restaurants in Nepal, and even then, it wasn’t this crazy. There’s a big demand for Indian food and having one in a very populated area like this makes a big difference in business.” Another pause to answer the phone. This time, it’s an order of 2 vegetable samosas, a fiery plate of chicken tikka masala over a blanket of fluffy rice, and a to-go cup of thick mango lassi (Yogurt smoothie).

***

Coming right up to the counter allows a full view of the kitchen, and at the helm is where Regmi stands, simultaneously taking and packing orders. The tantalizing fragrance of kormas, biryanis, and naans waft over the room like a heady breeze. Orders are tossed back and forth, poured, packed and sealed into containers with mounds of basmati rice, and into a thermal bag for the Doordash carrier to pickup and deliver.

“A lot of orders come at the same time,” Regmi.

“We use different platforms like Grubhub, Doordash, and we have our own delivery as well. This means we have to prepare food for all of these at the same time!” He exclaims, throwing up his hands in an all-encompassing gesture. Continue reading

Embracing Natural Hair

Black students at Bryn Mawr discuss their natural hair journeys

By Khari Bowman

In Bryn Mawr’s Erdman dining hall on a Friday night, at least 100 black students sat dispersed at tables eating and chatting with each other during the African-Caribbean week dinner celebration. Interestingly, most of them had their hair in afro puffs, curls, braids, and twists. It was evidence that many of them were a part of the natural hair movement.

Within the last decade, the natural hair movement has reached new heights within the black community. Women are ditching relaxers and opting for healthy black hair products that don’t contain ingredients like silicones and sulfates. According to an article on Mintel, a web-based marketing site, relaxer sales have continued to decline, dropping to 36.6% between 2012 and 2017.

Black women are now using styling products that allow their curly, coily hair to freely flow. They are also embracing the protective styles, like braids and twists, that make it easier to maintain their natural hair.  Black college students nationwide are navigating their natural hair journeys away from home through wearing their afros and protective braided styles.

Black Student at Bryn Mawr

 

Bryn Mawr has students on varying parts of their natural hair journeys, from those who have had natural hair all their life to those who just recently have gone natural within the last few years.

“I’ve always been natural because I grew up in Ethiopia, and it’s a country where everyone is mostly black”, said sophomore student Rihana Oumer, “It’s a very homogenous country so it was normal seeing people wearing their natural hair.”

Oumer admitted to wanting to style her hair into marley twists for her performance in an upcoming culture show hosted by Bryn Mawr’s African and Caribbean Students Organization (BaCaSo).

“It’s just easier to maintain that way and one less thing I have to worry about during that busy time,” she explained.

For another student, Bryn Mawr junior Kameice Francis, braided protective-styles served as a transition into her natural hair journey. Continue reading

Please Pass the Pickled Pepper

On the forefront of fermentation in Philadelphia

 

By Sasha Rogelberg

At Martha, a bar and restaurant in Fishtown, Philadelphia, a pickle is more than just a cucumber wading in a salty brine.

The winner of Philadelphia Magazine’s Best Pickle last year, Martha has lots of fermented fare, including olives marinated in pickled peppers and preserved lemons, local cheese plates and charcuteries, and pickle boats with whatever vegetables are in season, from beans to broccoli to radishes. They even have a sandwich made up of almost entirely fermented foods called the “Vegan Jawn,” which is filled with a carrot terrine, consisting of fermented, pureed, and cooked carrots set with agar that gives it the consistency of a deli meat, fermented radish, and dried, miso-cured eggplant.

Though unique in their ingenuity for the uses of fermentation and pickling, Martha is not the only Philadelphia establishment with a fiending for fermentation.  Local breweries like Fermentary Form, bakeries like Mighty Bread Company, and small distilleries across the city, are all fermenting foods and drinks for the public.

In fact, the process of fermentation — or the growth of healthy bacteria on foods to preserve and give them their funky, sour notes — has grown in popularity all over the country, mostly thanks for the slow food or “locavore” movement putting an emphasis on eating local foods, instead of buying from huge industrial companies.

Mike Landers, who does much of Martha’s fermentation, explained that people ferment and eat fermented foods for reasons ranging from the food being healthier, easier to store, and just as a way of using up food that would have gone to waste.

“Cooking makes things more digestible, but fermenting make food digestible and keeps more nutrients,” he said.

Landers, however, said that food becoming healthier through the pickling process was just a “happy accident.”  He enjoys fermented foods because the process of developing bacteria on the outsides of vegetables and cheeses extracts deep and complex flavors that can’t be created with other cooking techniques.

Despite now being popular and more common in restaurants and small-batch breweries, fermentation is nothing new.  Rather, it’s an activity that’s very old, but one that big corporations have lost interest in, as it takes time and resources that may only be available seasonally.

Ethan Tripp, the founder of Fermentary Form, started his business trying to resurrect an art he believes is now scarce.

The crowd at Fermentary Form

Tripp explained that back in the 1700s before people understood that there were multiple microbes, or the bacteria that is responsible for foods fermenting, or a “microbial world,” people would replicate the food preparation practices that worked for them.

This was how beer and wine were created, and after people realized one could consume spoiled beer and wine in the form of vinegar, this is how vinegar was created and popularized as well. Continue reading

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

How Rom-Coms made a Com-back on Netflix summer 

By Amana Abdurrezak

“As you wish.” – Westley, The Princess Bride

And don’t forget…I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” – Anna Scott, Notting Hill

Whether your favorite line from a romantic comedy came from 1987’s The Princess Bride or 1999’s Notting Hill, there’s no denying that the heyday of romantic comedies has passed. Behemoths like Marvel and Disney have figured out the formula to dominate every month of the year, leaving little room for romantic comedies to make a splash at the box office.

And that’s where Netflix comes in.

Netflix, the streaming service with approximately 137 million worldwide subscribers, hoped to expand its collection of original movies in 2018 with the “Summer of Love”, its initiative to revive the rom-com genre. Subscribers were treated to movies like “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Set it Up”, a story about two twenty-somethings in New York City trying to trick their bosses into falling in love.

All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

 

Of the six original movies that were released throughout the summer, “Set it Up” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” quickly became fan favorites. At Bryn Mawr College, a women’s college in the suburbs of Philadelphia, many students heard about Netflix’s newer rom-coms through word of mouth.

“A friend of mine told me about ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ during the summer,” said junior Valeria Aguilera.

In the movie adapted from Jenny Han’s book with the same title, the story follows high schooler Lara Jean Covey after five of her love letters are accidentally mailed to her past and present crushes.

After hearing about the plot, Aguilera was hooked and searched for it on Netflix. “It hadn’t been released yet, but I always had it in the back of my mind,” she said, “When some people on Facebook mentioned that it was finally released, I watched it.”

Though many heard about Netflix’s Summer of Love lineup when meeting up with friends, more heard about it online.

“Netflix sent notifications, but I also saw those movies on the ‘Movies that Are Trending Now’ list on Netflix,” said senior Ana Meta, “Everyone kept talking about it on Buzzfeed too.”

Much of the praise that “Set it Up” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” received from the media and students at Bryn Mawr stemmed from how the topic of love was tackled.

For Meta, movies like “Set it Up” weren’t revolutionary, but they were less problematic. “They still have a lot of the old elements and tropes…they’ve kept some of the old fuzzy feelings.” said Meta.

“But they’ve incorporated new faces. You tell that it’s 2018,” emphasized Meta.

In “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”, Aguilera appreciated the diversity of the cast and the presentation of a different kind of family. The movie showcases a Korean-American family where the three sisters are half Korean and half white. Continue reading