College of Biological Sciences raises wages to $15 an hour for some student employment opportunities

CBS announced in a recent email that the school is set to increase wages for some student positions, which will go into effect in January.

Morgan La Casse

Morgan La Casse

by Bella Carpentier

The University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences (CBS) announced raising wages to $15 an hour for students working in the Dean’s office and supporting units in CBS. This change will go into effect beginning Jan. 3, 2022.

Valery Forbes, the University’s Dean of CBS, announced the change in an email Dec. 1. The affected student positions are in CBS departments, including Nature of Life, CBS circles, the Dean’s Research Program, CBS Student Services, undergraduate teaching assistants, transfer peer advisors, teaching labs, the St. Paul administrative cluster and science communication and outreach.

“Our decision to increase wages for most student workers reflects our belief that every student employment opportunity in the College of Biological Sciences holds value by creating connections, facilitating learning and equipping students with the skills necessary to succeed following graduation,” Forbes said in an emailed statement to the Daily.

David Greenstein, the Associate Dean for Research, said CBS leadership officials want all students in the department to experience working in research if they want.

Greenstein added that one of the ways research experiences can be available to more students is if CBS students are paid a high enough wage so they do not have to work another job.

“Many of us who are working scientists, the reason we’re working scientists was we had formative experiences,” Greenstein said. “We worked in laboratories and we worked in field biology. We found questions and we were bitten by the bug, and we just found out it was great fun and something that we would like to do for our life’s work.”

Tanner Mierow is a fourth-year student on the CBS Student Board. He said in an email to the Daily that he was surprised when he read the email and had no idea that the administration had been working on this.

“I think this will allow more students in CBS to have the ability to take on University jobs within the college,” Mierow wrote. “This wage increase still makes it so that students who need to work can get hands-on experience taking classes and such instead of finding other jobs outside campus that pay more.”

With the change, University faculty providing student research opportunities can decide whether they want to give their undergraduate research students a raise.

Greenstein said he decided to raise the wage for students working in his lab, even those who work in media.

“I have folks in my lab who are undergraduates who are doing media preparation. I gave them all a raise so they’re going to get $15 an hour,” Greenstein said. “It’s an easy thing I can do.”

Overall, Greenstein said the wage increase will make CBS employment opportunities attractive for undergraduate students and will attract more students to CBS in general.

“In the case of CBS, we are fortunate that our current financial position, a combination of the tuition our students pay and support from the University, allows us to allocate funds in this way, in support of our exceptional students and all that we know they can achieve,” Forbes wrote.