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My fight for fair wages from The Observer

| Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Claire Kopischke | The Observer

As many of you may or may not know from reading my previous columns, which you probably only read due to misleading titles that make it seem like what I write is important, this is my first semester writing for The Observer. It’s been a good one, and I believe that in my time here I have been able to get to the bottom of a lot of major conspiracies, protect the administration and am now a thought leader on campus.

I’ve learned a lot about The Observer this semester.

I’ve learned that takes are about quality and not quantity. Look, if you want to blow up in The Observer, less is more. Fifteen decently provocative articles might get you an angry email, but one perfectly crafted, non-researched hot take can get you multiple response columns, and that’s what we do this for, folks. Most importantly, however, I’ve learned that for writing what I write, I am a hero.

Now, after hours of tireless work chasing down leads, staring blankly into the walls of the Dome hoping for inspiration and countless seconds of editing my own columns, I feel that I have done my job. My columns have reached tens, and maybe even tens of tens.

After all of this hard work, I’ve been surprised that The Observer never asked me to log my hours or set up a direct deposit account to make their columnist payments effortless and automated. Eventually, when they did not ask me to do this, I laughed as I realized that their antiquated payments system must be taking ages processing my check, printing it out and hand mailing it to my home address off-campus. As a STEM major myself,* I laughed at the dinosauric system that was holding up this process and thought to myself that I could probably find the time to update it for them. I thought better of it when I looked at my busy Observer schedule consisting of making sacrificial offerings to the various revenue-generating deities around campus and burning incense in search for good omens from the wisdom of the endowment.

As the semester progressed, however, I began to become nervous that I wasn’t being paid at all. I was worried that my hard work tirelessly educating campus on the correct opinions on everything, and why those who disagreed with me were evil, was going unappreciated. My time spent spinning the soft clicks of a keyboard into lukewarm takes of prosaic gold to be immortalized forever was all for naught. This sent me into a spiral, wondering if The Observer, the institution that I had previously trusted with my heart and my soul, was really some sort of great lie.

Then, hope.

The applications for the Observer’s spring columnists came out. Still suspicious, I emailed my editor about the wages I was owed, and she promised me a 20% raise for the spring semester. I was being paid after all! I rested easy that night, knowing that my wages would be coming, sooner or later.

Then, as quickly as my hope came back, it faded as the fall fades into the deep snows of winter. Days passed. Weeks. And still nothing.

I decided that I needed to research this as I had researched my previous columns. My faith in the administration of The Observer was shaken, so I knew that I couldn’t simply go to The Observer office in depths of South Dining Hall, where I could be easily locked away forever for my treasons, so I went all around campus in search of answers. The library. The Stepan Center. The Coleman-Morse Center. Grace Hall (might’ve been Flanner, not entirely sure), the outside of Caroline’s dorm I can no longer swipe into (call me back, please!).

It was only after I returned to the library that I started to happen upon my answer. I thought about 20%. I thought about what I might currently be getting paid an hour. Six dollars? Eight dollars? My fair value of $85 an hour? What if I was currently being paid $0?

This lead was hot. I returned to the library several times over the next weeks until I made a terrible discovery. Twenty percent of $0 is still $0 (source – I’m a STEM major).

I had been hustled. Scammed. Bamboozled. Hoodwinked. Lead astray. Played for a fool.

After all of the hard work, countless hours, tears, bloodshed and war crimes I had committed in the name of a better newspaper, I didn’t have a dollar to show for it. All this time I had been focusing on covering Notre Dame’s administration, when really I should have been making sure that my own house was in order. I looked up to a golden tower, when my eyes should have been trained on the dungeon below, where a group of criminals took advantage of the columnists who toiled day in and day out. These criminals stole the school mandated $8 an hour and spread none of the wealth to those whose labor formed the very backbone of their institution.

Therefore, I now address you directly, you cruel draconian overlords of The Observer. I have a demand for myself and all of my fellow columnists: Fair wages for honest work. I send you the following invoice for all of the work I have done for the past semester:


Wage: $8/hr

Hours Worked: About 30 minutes per column x six columns, so three?

Total: $24


Wag: $9.6/hr (raise!)

Hours Worked: Probably still three

Total: $29!

You have 24 hours.

*Yes, I’m a Mendoza STEM major. Which is probably a better joke than anything I’ve written in The Observer so far. Is this upsetting to you, as I graduate a STEM major with three credits of Astronomy instead of Gen Chem? That’s such a shame, I feel terrible.

**If you don’t see my columns next semester, it’s probably because of this column and similar things. And you know what, I’m OK with that. Die a hero, right?


Danny McMaster is a senior business analytics major and has never once been wrong in his entire life. He can be reached at [email protected] or @DanMcMaster14 on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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