Purdue Living Wage Coalition says new pay policies not enough

PhD student Olivia Gearner is part of an effort to bring a living wage to Purdue. (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

This week Purdue University administration announced a university-wide pay raise for grad workers on Fiscal Year (FY) contracts to a minimum of $28,000/yr. We are happy to see a slight increase in graduate student wages, especially after dropping off our Petition for a Living Wage at the April 2023 Purdue Board of Trustees meeting. The administration would not have made this move if it were not feeling pressure from graduate student unions in Indiana and around the nation, and groups like the Living Wage Coalition here at Purdue.

Unfortunately, the changes made yesterday represent just “one small step.” While we appreciate the much needed increase, a $28,000 stipend for graduate workers is $6500 less than a living wage. An increase to a small amount is still a small amount. Additionally, according to a Purdue University professor, departments did not receive any additional funding to match the minimum wage increase, meaning that some graduate assistantship positions have been cut entirely to compensate those heightened wages. Lastly, Purdue has not announced raises to grad workers on academic year (AY) contracts who make far less than FY workers. AY workers currently have a minimum stipend of $20,348 (over 14k less than a Living Wage in Tippecanoe County) and are more severely impacted by the low pay offered by Purdue University.

In order to ensure that all grad workers make a living wage, what we need is a “giant leap.” What is needed is a shift in priorities by university leadership to invest in the workers who make the university run. This means paying all workers at Purdue a living wage now.

MIT University calculates a living wage for the Greater Lafayette area at $34,517/yr: the new minimums are still far below this level. Furthermore, the university has left additional pay raises up to departments, and has allocated funds for special awards which would raise a limited number of students’ pay by $10k/yr. This is unacceptable: every Purdue worker is entitled to a living wage in return for the work they do. Is a chemical engineering student’s ability to make rent more important than an engineering education student’s, or a biologist’s, or a sociologist’s?

The Purdue Living Wage Coalition calls on all workers at Purdue to rally around our demands for living wages for everyone who makes our university run:

  • $17/hr now and $20 by 2026 for all workers on Purdue’s campuses

  • $35,360/yr minimum for all graduate student workers at Purdue

  • Union labor on all campus construction jobs

  • End the university contract with Aramark as soon as possible

Supporters can sign our petition at:


The Purdue Living Wage Coalition is made up of:

  • Graduate Rights and Our Wellbeing (GROW),

  • Greater Lafayette Democratic Socialists of America (GLDSA),

  • Purdue University Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA),

  • Purdue University American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and

  • Purdue Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)


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