The rising minimum wage for 2020 is not set to be voted on by Student Senate this year.
Student Senate President senior Asma Hassan said over email that Northwest’s Student Senate will not vote on the proposal brought by University Police Chief Clarence Green last semester.
Student Senate’s decision to not vote on the matter this year leaves what happens to the minimum wage on campus unknown.
Student Senate Vice President Kirayle Jones, a junior, said he was not completely sure as to why the senators agreed to not vote on the minimum wage. He said the current student employment fee included in all students’ designated fees is at an amount that is sufficient to compensate for this year’s minimum wage increase.
However, student hours were cut in order to raise the minimum wage with the state minimum wage in 2019 without raising the fee, according to a 2019 interview with Senior Human Resources Generalist Paula McClain.
The University has not announced whether it intends to raise its minimum wage in 2020 or if the student employment budget changed enough to accomodate the raise.
“By the census of the senators, we thought that we were fine without voting on it,” Jones said.
Jones said the decision to vote or not to vote on an issue is decided by the senators in discussions prior to the beginning of weekly Student Senate meetings.
Jones said he spoke to some of his friends on campus about their thoughts on the issue.
“I haven’t gotten any negative feedback,” Jones said.
He also said most students unfortunately do not know what all of their fees go to. Jones said the breakdown of student fees is listed on the Student Senate’s website.
Assistant Vice President of Human Resources Krista Barcus said the decision is based on the total funding the school gets through state appropriations and the designated fees that students pay per credit hour.
“We want to offer our students an opportunity here. So again, it’s that balancing act of how do we do that, how do we afford to do that, how do we compete (with off campus employment) without raising designated fees,” Barcus said.
In an email, Barcus said there are around 900 students who are employed on campus. If the fee brought up by Green last semester were to be added to the designated fees, it would be attached to all students’ fees.
Barcus said the funds for student wages have to come from somewhere. Some of the options to raise minimum wage for students is to raise designated fees to help compensate for the pay raise or decrease some of the University’s student positions.
Barcus said the final decision on the minimum wage will depend on what the Board of Regents and the Northwest Leadership Team decide.
The Northwest Leadership Team is a committee of seven decision-making administrators including President John Jasinki.
Junior Sneha Ojha, an international student from Nepal, is the public relations chair and international representative on Student Senate. She is also employed on campus as a recruitment assistant for the International Involvement Center.
Ojha said she was glad to see that Student Senate had decided to wait to vote on the minimum wage. She said Student Senate felt it would be too rushed to vote right after the proposal was presented to them last semester.
Ojha said the senators felt this issue needed more discussion because it affects all students employed on campus, especially international students.
International students are not allowed to work off campus because of visa restrictions. Whatever decision is made on the minimum wage will affect their way of living.
“It was a good thing that we didn’t vote on it right away because now we are going to get so much input from almost all of the students,” Ojha said.
Ojha said this delay in the vote will allow Student Senate to gather feedback from the students, which will aid in the vote when it comes time.
The decision of what will happen to the minimum wage is currently unknown.