North Texas Daily

‘This is a long-term plan’: SGA to continue push for $15 minimum wage

‘This is a long-term plan’: SGA to continue push for $15 minimum wage

‘This is a long-term plan’: SGA to continue push for $15 minimum wage
October 15
15:30 2022

University President Neal Smatresk announced on Sept. 29 that the minimum wage for student workers will increase to $8.50  starting Dec. 1 before rising to $9 in August next year.

The university has around 5,000 student employees and 200 of them will be immediately affected by the wage increase, according to the announcement.

This decision was advocated by the Student Government Association’s President Jermaine “JT” Turner, Vice President Aalyhia Shillow and Chief-of-Staff Isabella Armenta.

“Initially, when we ran last spring, one of our campaign points was a $15 minimum wage,” Turner said. “It is because students raised concerns and the SGA had always had this concern that students raised since I got here freshman year [in] 2019.”

Previous SGA administrations pushed for this change, but decisions were interrupted and delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we were running, we resurfaced it back up because of inflation, COVID-19 [and] students needed money it’s that simple,” Turner said. “They need a little more wage right now because $7.25 is not going to cut anymore.”

Tony Mejia, a Union information desk employee and kinesiology junior, says the minimum should be higher than $9.

“I would increase it a bit — at least make it $11,” Mejia said. “Because $9, especially if it’s some people’s only job here, isn’t going to do much to cover housing here.”

Students say the wage is still too low to cover living expenses, food, transportation and general utilities.

“I feel like nine should be the least [amount], especially for us college students who are working to pay for their education,” said Gabby Essien, a Chick-fil-A employee and graduate fashion design student. “$8.50 is definitely not enough to help.”

The SGA leaders met over the summer with Clayton Gibson, chief financial officer and vice president for finance and administration, and Elizabeth With, senior vice president for student affairs to discuss a $15 minimum wage.

“It still is the goal and the SGA did not give up,” Armenta said. “This is a long-term plan that is now being enacted because of what JT and Aalyhia worked on and promoted.”

They brought the idea up to the administration and are working toward a definitive date for the $15 minimum wage goal through small increments of change.

“The reason why nothing has been done in the past is because students may go in with this minimum-wage perspective and may say $15 or nothing, and that doesn’t work with admin,” said Shillow. “We’re talking about money, wages and how students’ service fees or tuition prices go into it.”

Shillow said students do not get to see the bigger picture behind these major decisions, in which there’s compromise and time before implementation.

“People get caught in that it’s not $15,” Shillow said. “But it’s something for someone. Because if it wasn’t impacting them, we wouldn’t have to raise it in the first place.”

The SGA said they do not directly control student wages or work environments on campus and only work towards what students come to them for.

“SGA can always push for things whatever student concerns come to us, we can push for it,” Shillow said. “And the only thing we truly control is what us three in this office do and say and how we support students.”

Featured Image: SGA President Jermaine “JT” Turner speaks during the presidential debate on March 29, 2022. Photo by John Anderson

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Joaquin Fernandez

Joaquin Fernandez

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