Northwest is considering not honoring the minimum wage increase in Missouri in 2020, which is, of course, an affront to students’ rights and shows a lack of care for students who work for the University.
The minimum wage in Missouri is rising to $9.45 an hour. Missouri voters passed proposition B in November 2018 to increase the minimum wage incrementally to an hourly wage of $12 an hour by 2023.
Student Senate’s role would be to vote on a raise in fees to cover the cost of the minimum wage increase. As of right now, there is no real plan for voting on the minimum wage on the part of Student Senate. Why quickly address a problem when you could just leave it up in the air and ambiguous, confusing thousands of people in the process?
I understand that this will put a larger financial strain on Northwest, but not following the wage increase or cutting hours and adding fees to the people actively paying for the institution to survive is ridiculous.
Northwest would be allowed to keep wage rates the same because of Missouri Revised Statues 290.500 that states that students employed by the institution they attend for education are not technically considered “employees” and therefore do not have the same rights as employees.
The law is kind of bogus, but besides that point, Student Senate has a choice to make, if they ever vote, and hopefully, they make the right one.
The average in-state cost to attend Northwest is $19,861, according to the University website. This includes on-campus housing and a meal plan. This price increases by upwards of $7,000 for out-of-state and is even more expensive for international students.
It would take just over 2,309 hours at $8.60 an hour to pay for the in-state cost of attending Northwest, which is clearly impossible especially with the 20 hours a week limit. That’s an astronomical amount of work and with tuition most likely to increase as it has in recent years, not raising the minimum wage with the state wage would only further deepen the hole that many students are already in financially.
On top of this issue, international students are often not able to work off-campus because of their visas. This means their only option for work would be paying them less than they should be making with tuition rates most likely increasing.
Students are already not able to use the income from on-campus employment to completely pay for college because of the pay and hour restrictions, so making it even more difficult to earn money would be adding insult to injury. The state and national trend has been to cut higher education funding. Missouri ranked 45th in higher education funding from 2016 to 2018, according to Grapevine data in a Politifact article. Students need all the help they can get financially.
The cycle has proceeded as follows: Funding gets cut to higher education, tuition rates increase, and students bear more of a burden financially. Hopefully, Student Senate has a chance to help pull students out of the hole. Hopefully, they don’t grab a shovel instead.