SFC Living Wage Fee increase proposal rejected by Board Committee

The Finance and Administration Committee voted to send President Rahmat Shoureshi’s student fee budget to the Executive Board instead of the proposal drafted by the Student Fee Committee.

The president’s budget proposal of a $23 increase in the student incidental fee does not include a “living wage reserve” for paying student workers $15 an hour wages.

The SFC intended the living wage reserve to be a pool of around $600,000 from which fee funded areas could choose to fund their student workers at a $15 an hour wage. The SFC would not have been in a position to legally mandate that FFA’s pay the higher wages.

The problem the finance and administration committee had with this reserve was that it would trigger increases for all employees across campus, incurring additional costs to the university.

In a letter sent to the SFC, Shoureshi explained an immediate increase of all student workers to $15 an hour would cost “upwards of $1 million” which “translates to a 1.2% increase in resident undergraduate tuition.”

Cindy Stake, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees, said that if the living wage reserve were adopted and then additional employee wage increases were not implemented to match, the university would be breaking the law.

Elliot Thompson, chair of the SFC, asked if the school was “currently breaking the law if there were differentiations between people who are working, because students are kind of put on the back burner.”

“I can’t say that we are currently breaking the law, but I can say that we have a lot of work to do to make sure we have a consistent approach,” Starke said.

“Pretty routinely across the board, students are being paid less than their contemporaries in the world,” Thompson said. “We hear that it’s grueling for them to devote themselves to a university, devote themselves to providing services to their peers, and not have that work respected or seen.”

All other aspects of the President’s budget proposal are the same as the SFC’s proposal. The President’s budget proposal will now be sent to the executive board for approval.