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

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

The Buzz About Bees

Philadelphia is passionate about beekeeping

By Sally Pearson

There are many unknowing Philadelphians living with a beehive right next door.

“When a hive is happy and healthy and non-aggressive, there’s no issue,” said beekeeper Eli St. Amour. “Neighbors don’t even know that there are bees.”

St. Amour’s hives at Haverford College are likely overlooked by many students. They hide in the corner of campus on the small Haverford farm.

Most beekeepers fall into one of two categories: hobby beekeepers or commercial beekeepers. Hobby beekeepers might sell honey and break even on a good year, but don’t treat beekeeping as their main job, said St. Amour. Whereas commercial beekeepers do, often owning hundreds of hives.

St. Amour doesn’t fall into either of these categories.  He operates about 20 hives at 10 different locations around the Philadelphia area and focuses on the educational aspect of beekeeping. In the younger schools where he keeps hives, like Friends School Haverford, the focus is on sharing the importance of bees and getting kids excited about them. “‘Hey look, bees, bees are good bugs’, that sort of education,” said St. Amour.

At the colleges where he operates, like Haverford and Bryn Mawr , education factors into their wider sustainable education initiatives.

Eli St. Amour

“It’s one of the most easy insects to study”, said St. Amour. “You can take apart one of these hives and look at every single cell and put it back together and you haven’t destroyed anything”

The bulk of his income comes from the contracts with these locations to install and care for hives, but he also sells honey and lip balm.

St. Amour is experienced–he has been beekeeping for 10 years he’s only 23. He started when he was 12  after a field trip.

He was homeschooled so had time to pursue beekeeping. He apprenticed at Harriton House, in Bryn Mawr, where he learned a lot about beekeeping. He started his first hive soon after. He’s just graduated with a degree in Sustainable Business from Saint Joseph’s University and plans to pursue beekeeping full-time. Continue reading

The Year of Redemption

Haverford’s soccer team comes back from a bad year

By Alexander Clark

For the Haverford men’s soccer team, 2017 was a year to forget.

Starting the year in all of the national rankings, the team started 6-1-1, accentuated by a 2-1 win over eventual national champion Messiah College. After the strong start, Haverford finished the rest of it’s their games a combined 4-4-2.

A 10-5-3 record with an appearance in the conference tournament is nothing to scoff at. For the Haverford standard, though, it simply wasn’t good enough. A 5-0 thrashing by Dickinson in the first round of the conference tournament ended the Fords’ season of bitter disappointment.

As those who follow Division III soccer know, keeping up dominance for years on end it an extremely challenging task. After two straight Centennial Conference championships and an appearance in the NCAA Elite 8 the previous two years, those within the program knew that the 2018 season would be a defining year for the Fords.

Losing three all-conference performers and the entire coaching staff from the 2017 squad, the spring and summer would prove to be vital if Haverford were to restore its place as one of the premier teams within the region.

Safe to say, Haverford soccer is back.

Led by the 10 seniors in the class of 2019, Haverford soccer reestablished itself as the team to beat in the Centennial. Picked fifth in the preseason conference poll, the Fords’ revenge tour resulted in a 14-4-1 record, highlighted by another Centennial Conference championship, the seniors’ third in four years.

After a 2-0 start to the year under new head coach Zach Ward, the Fords ran into a rough patch. Losing four of their next five, with two of those games being against nationally ranked opponents, Haverford had run into an early stumbling block. The season had reached its turning point, for a slow start sometimes can doom a team, keeping them out of the at-large bid discussion when it is time to select teams for the NCAA tournament.

The seniors, through their experience and leadership, had the roster regroup and refocused heading into the bulk of the conference schedule. Sitting at 3-4, the Fords ripped off 11 straight wins, including an undefeated October, en route to the Centennial Conference championship.

Haverford’s year of redemption was brought on by uncharacteristic losses during the 2017 season. A 2-0 loss to Johns Hopkins, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Gettysburg, and two losses, 3-2 and 5-0, to Dickinson had left Haverford out of the national conversation.

This year? The Fords went undefeated in matches against those teams. A 1-0 win against Johns Hopkins opened the conference slate, while 2-0 wins against both Gettysburg and Dickinson helped the Fords to win the regular season title, giving them the right to host the conference tournament. Continue reading

Nerd House’s Magical Yule Ball

How Haverford’s Nerd House becomes Hogwarts for a night

By Chris Xue

Every child who grew up with Harry Potter dreamed of attending Hogwarts and living through all the magical adventures it held within. They’d stare out windows and peek into mailboxes in hopes that their Hogwarts letter will come to them. Maybe instead of getting an owl to deliver the letter they’d get a Hogwarts professor to deliver it instead.

Unfortunately for these children, their Hogwarts letters never came in the mail, much less from one of the famous characters in the franchise.

However, if you happened to attend Bryn Mawr, Haverford, or Swarthmore Colleges, then you would have had a chance to attend Haverford Nerd House’s Yule Ball event which was just as magical as the books were.

Haverford’s Nerd House is a specialty dorm on the main campus. Its specialty is anything nerd related. Ranging from obscure tabletop games to large franchises like Harry Potter. No matter what it is, Nerd House has got it covered.

Throughout the semester they host events that fit in different parts of nerd culture. For the dramatic book-lovers there’s a murder mystery night. For the more active gamers there’s a laser-tag night. Then, at the end of the semester, there’s the Yule Ball for the Harry Potter fans.

Nerd House’s goal isn’t just to cater to nerds. Ever since its formation six years ago, members have wanted to share their interests with the rest of their fellow students. All these events are open for students from any the three sibling colleges. Anyone who has any amount of interest is welcomed with open arms.

The Yule Ball is a special case amongst all the Nerd House events. Haverford once had a Winter Formal, which served as the fall semester’s large dance. Anyone who wanted to relax and party before finals attended. Around the same time of year, Nerd House’s Yule Ball would be held in the small common room of Nerd House. It was a small and low-key event.

Late fall of 2017, Nerd House got some special news. It would be getting a budget increase for their event!

But there was a catch. Continue reading

In the Lab as an Undergrad

Students aren’t waiting for grad school to do hands-on research

By Stephanie Widzowski

Emma Bullock, a Haverford senior, has a full plate. She takes physics, advanced German, and multiple high-level chemistry courses at a time. She gets up early to run and sings in an a cappella group of which she’s been a member since freshman year. She spends long evenings in the lab, but it’s not for classes. Bullock does research, a chance many undergraduates get to solve intriguing questions or help them get into graduate school.

Emma Bullock does research on bees

The number of Americans going to college, including grad school, has increased steadily over the past few decades, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

With higher enrollment comes opportunities for STEM undergrads at four-year schools to do research. Often all it takes to get involved is asking a professor if they need help with a project.

Bullock studies the health of honeybees and whether chemicals in their bodies can show disease. She hopes to find a cheap, easy way for beekeepers to check on their hives. She started as a sophomore on a senior’s project and has made it her own.

“So, what I did was I took the methods that I worked with her to develop, and just worked individually my junior year to do them,” said Bullock. Her adviser Helen White steps in if something is confusing, but otherwise, Bullock adds, “You’re on your own.”

This might sound scary, but it seems to foster independence.
Junior Lily Bennett studies conifers with biology professor Jon Wilson, and senior Divesh Otwani develops new ways to write computer programs with a professor at Bryn Mawr. Both attest to the freedom and confidence their work gives them.

Research is also a chance to get to know a professor on a deep level. Mentors can also help students get more out of the learning process.

“[Jon] helps me analyze my data and suggests readings for me,” Bennett wrote. “I honestly can’t speak highly enough of Jon, though. He’s really the best.”

Haverford Student Lily Bennett

These three students do research on top of their coursework. How do they balance it all?

“So it can be tough, but Jon is flexible with when I get things done, so long as I get the work done,” Bennett wrote.

Bullock just laughed. “I had no choice,” she said. Continue reading

Conquering Stress

One Haverford student uses what’s called cognitive reappraisal

 By Ryan Dukarm

Heather Robinson may be stressed, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at her.

The easy going and energetic Haverford College senior from the Boston area has dealt with her fair share of stress as a college student. However, she credits a new technique she learned in her Stress and Coping class to helping alleviate some of her worry in her final year at Haverford.

“It’s called cognitive reappraisal. It’s part of cognitive behavioral therapy” said Robinson, a Psychology major and Neuroscience and Dance double minor, “but it’s more of an easier everyday technique that you can do.”

“I had a little journal and whenever I had these negative thoughts I would write down the situation and what was happening when I had this thought, my mood during it, the thought itself and then whether or not the thought was helpful or accurate.”

Many of Robinson’s stressors were about the amount of responsibilities she balanced, both academically and other wise. When she would go through her responsibilities for

Heather Robinson

the day, things that she enjoyed and loved began to feel like chores among all the other obligations she had. That led to negative feelings around things she enjoyed.

“Say, I have Bounce rehearsal later today” Robinson said, giving an example of a potential area for cognitive reappraisal by referring to her hip hop dance group Bounce, a group Robinson has been in all four years of college, “I really don’t want to go, I’m so tired, I’m so exhausted, I just want to go back to bed. But thinking about it like that meant that I was dreading it instead of looking forward to seeing my friends.”

Cognitive reappraisal has helped Robinson change her outlook on things she can’t change her commitment to. She loves dancing, so keeping those negative thoughts in a notebook where she can analyze whether they are helpful or not allows her to put a more positive spin on stressors in her life and continue to enjoy her many obligations.

Robinson went on to say that as a senior her stress has developed into stress about managing her responsibilities and worrying about her future. As a first year, she was often worried “about the high school to college transition.” Continue reading

Tending to Haverfarm

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Haverford College has a farm — yes, a farm — on its campus.

By Sally Pearson

Wandering between beds of produce–carrots sprouting in one bed, spinach in the next—Ellis Maxwell, my tour guide for the afternoon, identified plants as we walked. The spinach under the tarp here was recently planted and would grow quickly. The onions here would grow over the winter and could be harvested in early spring. These rows had already been harvested so the green ground cover was revitalizing the soil.

This day in late October the Haverford junior wandered in black sweatpants and a black hoodie. He was comfortable on the farm, a year-round farming and educational space on the Main Line campus.

The Lavender plants were hiding under a white cloth. Maxwell crouched down and pulled up the cloth and bent off a muted green stem to smell.

Many of his favorite plants seemed to be those with tea making potential. He said he liked trying different combinations of herbs in his tea. He taught himself to make his own. Now, he admitted, he makes it almost every day.

Outside the fence of the garden, Maxwell picked a sprig of Chocolate mint, a brown and green marbled plant growing along the ground near the outside fence and handed it to me, it could have been mistaken for a weed to a less experienced eye. It can also be used for making tea, he said. He rubbed his own stem between his fingers. “Or I just eat it” he smiled, and chewed his bit of chocolate mint.

Ellis Maxwell strikes a comic pose

Haverfarm was quiet that afternoon. It was just Maxwell, me, the Farm Fellow who was working that day, and the occasional dog walker taking a detour from Haverford College’s nature trail.

These walkers remind you of your close proximity to the rest of the world. A neighborhood was behind a few lines of trees, a road was within calling distance, and Center City Philadelphia was nine miles from the secluded community garden where we stood. Haverfarm’s existence is a bit unexpected.  Maxwell, too, is full of the unexpected. Continue reading

WELCOME TO THE SPRING 2018 edition of the English House Gazette, the official blog of Bryn Mawr College’s ART264 News and Feature Writing class where we post a sampler of the diverse stories reported and written by student journalists in the class.

 

Stories range from on-campus profiles and trends to ventures outside the bubble, all based on beats selected by the students.

This year we have a particularly interesting lineup.

Bryn Mawr’s RACHEL LIGHTSTONE clues us in on the latest trends iin tattoos on campus, including the popular pick and poke style.

YI GAO, a Bryn Mawr student, writes about the growing use of ancient and modern artifacts in the college classrooms, with an emphasis on some striking Japanese prints.

Bryn Mawr’s AZALIA SPRECHER, who made immigrants her beat, offers nuanced and often poignant tales of two Bryn Mawr students who are “Dreamers” who were born in Mexico, raised in the United States and now are among the 600,000 so-called DACA men and women facing possible deportation under President Trump’s crackdown on immigrants. Sprecher also profiles Bryn Maw sociology professor Veronica Montes, who arrived in the U.S. from her home in Mexico as a teen.

YUQI ZHA, a Bryn Mawr senior, chose the Chinese in America as a beat. One story reveals how a Bryn Mawr student from China manages to bring a suitcase full of food from home. It’s called The Smuggled Dumpling Caper into the U.S. The descriptions can make your mouth water. Zha also writes about Pangpang Lulu, a niche delivery service that delivers food to Chinese students yearning for their country’s food. Try the Chicken Feet stew.

To test the attitudes of Bryn Mawr’s growing cadre of Chinese students, Zha surveyed them all and lays out her results. It’s amazing how a bad bowl of white rice can ruin your day.

Haverford College senior SEAN WOODRUFF goes beyond the confines of campus to cover his beat on high tech. For starters, there is a bar in Fishtown that offers virtual reality headsets to its customers.  And he looks into the popular and successful Hackathon held each year by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Finally, Woodruff accompanies a group of accomplished Lower Merion students as they compete in a regional robotics competition with their robot Everest. Can he do it?

Haverford’s STEVE LEHMAN has a funny and endearing tale about a would-be student movie maker who reveals how hard it is to make a movie without lights, a camera and actors. Lehman’s classmate JOSEPH STARUSKI, who is a mass transit freak, adds to the canon with a look at the rage for electric bikes.

Covering the arts, Bryn Mawr’s COURTNEY EU writes about how diversity has come to the comics. Superman make way for an Afro-Latino Spiderman, a gay Iceman, and a Muslim Ms. Marvel.

Bryn Mawr’s ANIKA VARTY, whose beat was the arts, gives us an update on creative dance groups breaking new ground in ballet.

 

Lights? Camera? Action?

The travails of a student filmmaker

By Steve Lehman

Ethan Grugan is making a film. All he’s missing are actors. And a script.

And a camera.

Grugan, a sophomore film major at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, had a great plan: create a short movie in the style of famous director and actor Charlie Chaplin, where Chaplin and fellow early cinema star Buster Keaton would be the main characters.

But who would play the famous filmmakers? When and where would they film? And who would be behind the camera?

On a rainy Sunday morning in his university’s dining hall, Grugan explained the complex and nuanced saga of the writing, directing, and editing of this film. He just hasn’t done any of it yet.

Monday, March 19th

Gabrielle Miller, Adjunct Professor of Film at St. Joseph’s University, assigns a creative project for her course “Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.” In the class, students from a variety of disciplines study the two seminal filmmakers and their influence on the history of cinema.

The task seems simple enough: create a film in the style of Keaton or Chaplin. Black and white, mostly silent, and a healthy dose of visual gags should do the trick.

Grugan gets excited and starts to form a plan. In the earliest stages, the film begins to take shape in his mind. The next steps: storyboard, script, actors, and crew.

Thursday, April 5th

The class doesn’t meet too often, due to frequent snow days and the professor being occupied with her own TV pitch. Grugan, however, doesn’t mind having a professor who’s busy doing real film work. “It’s pretty cool, but also a little stressful.”

Grugan plans to film in two weekends. The premise: Charlie Chaplin trying to get Buster Keaton to smile.

Keaton will naturally be played by Grugan himself, a 6-foot-2-inch former rower with broad shoulders and a big smile. Two of his classmates agree to play Chaplin and hold the camera, with Grugan directing.

Millie, Grugan’s new poodle puppy, will be the film’s MacGuffin. What’s a MacGuffin? “It’s like the briefcase in ‘Pulp Fiction,’” according to Grugan. “It’s a plot point that you don’t see that much, but sort of drives the whole thing.”

Later, the budding filmmaker is quick to display a picture of Millie on his cell phone: she’s a puff-ball of curly black fur, small and adorable.

“She’s my little stinky MacGuffin,” he says proudly.

Wednesday, April 11th

Everything falls apart.

The filming is planned for the upcoming weekend, but Grugan’s classmates can’t come and the script and storyboard aren’t finished yet.

Grugan also comes to the realization that Relay for Life, a charity event where participants stay awake for 12 hours straight doing games and activities to raise money for cancer treatment and research, is being held this weekend as well. That makes things a bit more complicated.

The new plan: get background footage and work on the plot. In other words, film some scenes without actors and try to coordinate the schedules of three over-worked college students. Everything will be fine.

Sunday, April 15th

The big weekend is finally here…

And it’s pouring. Rain whips through the grey campus of the Catholic university as students run from building to building, their umbrellas useless in the wind. Grugan, of course, can’t film in these conditions. Not only that, but Relay for Life knocked him out for most of the weekend.

“It was definitely worth it,” Grugan says of the event, but “I was probably a little bit too ambitious thinking that I could stay awake for 17 hours straight. And film a film.”

After starting at 7 p.m. Friday night and going until the wee hours of Saturday morning at the charity event, it took him most of Saturday to recover. He slept until 2 p.m., but “wasn’t functional until about 7.”

“You know those days where you’re like ‘Oh, it’s only 17 hours.’ Yeah I get those a lot.”

Instead of filming in the rain, he explains over coffee and breakfast sandwiches the plan moving forward.

If he were to be filming today, it would be footage of two of his dogs, Millie (the puppy) and Oso (an adult), running around his house in Bala Cynwyd. This would serve as background for the real footage that would include actors.

Grugan uses salt and pepper shakers to explain how he’ll film Chaplin and Keaton. Gesturing with the two plastic cylinders on the table- which represent the two characters- he demonstrates that the best method is to film each scene from multiple angles to create a 3-D effect in the editing process.

He’s still trying to figure out a rain date for filming. “She [the professor] still hasn’t told us when it’s due… so that would be helpful to know.”

Even after the storyboard is turned in and the filming is finished, Grugan will have to edit the final product into a cohesive five-minute movie.

“Or we might just scrap it,” he says simply, after spending the past hour explaining the filming process, his plan, and the steps needed to finish the project. If he doesn’t end up filming, he can always just explain his ideas to the class verbally… just like everyone else.

As it turns out, the actual assignment was to describe to the class, out loud, what film you would make, if you were to make film. But actually making one? That’s optional.

And in the class of 25 students, how many other people will be making actual films? “Oh it’s just me,” Grugan says cheerfully. “You can just describe it, but I don’t see the fun in that.”

Grugan also reveals that, once he does establish a filming time, he doesn’t actually have access to a camera from the film department because it’s not an official class project. Technically, it’s just an oral presentation.

He’ll use his iPhone instead.

Suddenly Grugan remembers that he has to go to play rehearsal this afternoon. He sips a blueberry smoothie as he looks off into the distance, thinking about all the time he doesn’t have.

Despite playing a cop with four lines in the last scene, Grugan found out last night that he has to go to all four hours of rehearsal. He’s not sure why.

After breakfast, Grugan pulls up his YouTube channel to talk about other videos he’s made. Besides class projects, he also likes to make highlight reels for Philadelphia sports teams. His film about the Eagles has almost 500 views.

“All my videos combined don’t even hit that,” he says as he checks the views of his other movies.

“Holy shit!” he yells suddenly, almost spilling the large purple smoothie he had been drinking. A surprise: his Sixers pump-up video reached over 1,000 views in just one week.

Grugan can’t believe it. “Holy shit. Okay. Holy shit,” he says as the number sinks in. He puts his phone down on the table and looks out at the rain lashing against the window.

After a tough week, finally, some success.