Why Student Affairs Needs to Support FLSA Changes -or- The FLSA Fairy Tale

Image result for once upon a time letter once upon a time there was an entire profession that claimed to value social justice.

The people of this profession also commonly derided their lack of work/life balance. Many years ago, their ancestors received the right of a 40-hour work week, but alas! Their positions required an excess of 40 hours for many of these fine folk, as the task to support students required much time and effort.

They were highly educated but vastly underappreciated in terms of gold coins. Caught in a quandary, their professional values included both doing whatever it took to care for their students but to also value personal well-being.

Woe unto them!

But then one day, a heroic Knight of Dol came unto their leaders and spake unto the leaders of the land: “Ho! Thou hast gone many years of underpaying and overworking these fine citizens! Beginning the 1st of December, thou must pay overtime for all thy workers, unless thee pay $47,476 for a salary!”

Previously the law of the land allowed overtime for only those citizens earning less than $23,660. This was a drastic change and the leaders of the land were outraged!


The professional organizations spake unto their people at sunrise: “Social justice is a value and we desire equity for all”.

Yet at sunset they spake unto the Knight of Dol: “The new law of the land is unfair! For we benefit greatly from working the people in excess of 40 hours without raising their wages. We do not have enough gold coins for this change!”

The Knight of Dol spake unto the leaders of the land: “Hast thou not considered working thy citizens only 40 hours per week? Thou wouldst not have to then pay overtime. Or perhaps thee can pay thy workers $47,476  of gold coins if thee desires long hours?”

The leaders of the land laughed at the concept of such a thing. Their banner was that of a dragon, for they held a fondness for shiny things, which including hoarding gold coins sometimes and other times building shiny new buildings for the gladiators.

The people of the profession were divided. For those in the upper-echelons, they had a self-interest in agreeing with the leaders of the land. Some of them were leaders or very nearly there and had an aversion to budget issues. For them, the spirit of the dragon resided within and they had a fondness for hoarding gold coins from the masses. Others had were hesitant to supervise their entry and mid-level employees as hourly workers. And for others, they sat in seats with plump cushions and had forgotten the hardships of low wages and long hours.

Those paid under the new salary threshold as dictated by the Knight of Dol were divided as well. Some felt a distaste for a seemingly lowered status of ‘hourly employee’ and the idea of hitting thy clock on the way in and thy clock on the way out. Others felt a loss of freedom with this and yearned to maintain the ability to flit around the land as they pleased without tracking thy hours.

And yet others were pleased with the Knight of Dol and their proclamation. The people were highly education, yet worked many hours and recieved fewer gold coins compared to their counterparts in other professions. The values of social justice lit their path; to them the proclamation protected thee rights of workers to be paid fairly.

‘Twas difficult to work long hours and receive a small bag of gold coins in exchange. Many of the people had to battle goblins on the weekends just to earn enough money to provide offerings to the greedy dragon Naavíent who granted gifts to youth in exchange for gold coins and/or first born children over a twenty year period.

Indeed, this latter group was quite puzzled as to why the leaders of the land spake to them at sunrise of their values of equity and spake unto the Knight of Dol at sunset about why it ’twas appropriate to maintain an inequitable system.


The Knight of Dol was powerful but the leaders of the land found their own knight to challenge Dol: Knight Walberg of Michigan. Knight Walberg was a lesser knight, whose notoriety grew from his many failed attempts to vanquish the great creature known as Aca (a rather helpful creature who had healing powers, so it is quite good Knight Walberg repeatedly failed). Knight Walberg challenged the Knight of Dol to a duel this week and is utilizing a new weapon he named HR 6094.

Granted, this was not a clever name but rather bulky much like the weapon itself.

The leaders of the land began to dedicate their banners to Knight Walberg of Michigan. He was not the first knight they supported on this matter yet only the most recent.

Alas. The leaders’ choice to rally their banners for the lesser knight included abandoning their espoused values in lieu of favoring gold coins.

The day to the duel between the Knight of Dol and the lesser Knight Walberg draws nearer. While the odds favor the Knight of Dol, the people of the profession now must harbor distrust towards many of the leaders of the land for now they know what lies within thy hearts.

To Be Continued…


Author’s Note:

I believe that FLSA will protect worker’s rights and raise the standard of living for people who work in Student Affairs. I am bothered by the the lobbying behind organizations like the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources and the higher level SA professionals who I have read or heard their thoughts on how FLSA will be bad for universities and student affairs.

To learn more about the new FLSA overtime law (as well as what folks think about it):

  1. Why Student Affairs Needs to Support FLSA Overtime Changes (Storify, by me): https://storify.com/NikiMessmore/why-student-affairs-needs-to-support-flsa-overtime
  2. HR 6090: http://edworkforce.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=401057
  3. Colleges Brace for Overtime Overhaul – http://www.wsj.com/articles/colleges-brace-for-overtime-overhaul-1458674488
  4. HE becomes poster child for FLSA concerns: http://www.bna.com/higher-education-becomes-n73014445162/
  5. DOL Overtime ruling: https://www.dol.gov/WHD/overtime/final2016/
  6. DOL guide to HE for FLSA changes: https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/final2016/highered-guidance.pdf
  7. ACUHO-I What Campuses Think about FLSA: https://www.naspa.org/images/uploads/main/infographic-campushousing-flsa-link_ACUHOI.PDF
  8. FLSA Overtime Rule Changes: Guide for Student Affairs (NASPA): https://www.naspa.org/rpi/reports/final-overtime-rule-resource-guide-student-affairs
  9. FLSA Overtime Final Rule to Change the Way Student Affairs Operates (NASPA): https://www.naspa.org/about/blog/flsa-overtime-final-rule-to-change-the-way-student-affairs-operates
  10. Strategies for Managing the New FLSA Overtime Rules in Student Affairs: https://olc.naspa.org/catalog/strategies-for-managing-the-new-flsa-overtime-rules-in-student-affairs
  11. Managing FSLA (NAPSA Leadership Exchange): http://www.leadershipexchange-digital.com/lexmail/2016fall?folio=32&pg=34#pg34



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