Town hall documents wage frustration

Caitlin Campbell

On Tuesday Nov. 15, the Student Government Association (SGA) held a town hall meeting in response to students’ frustration with the 50 cent wage increase that was announced on Oct. 17. 

The town hall took place in the Olin Auditorium from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., this space was chosen because the organizers hoped to see upwards of 100 students in attendance.

Senior Bella Gmitrovic, chair of the documents committee in SGA, has been in charge of organizing and planning the town hall, alongside sophomore and head of the finance committee, Neleigh Rush.

“We want to do something where students can be heard so that we can relay what they say to administration eventually,” Gmitrovic said. “We want administration to see that students are upset, because I don’t think that they fully understand what getting paid so little means to us. It’s kind of demeaning.” 

Rush said that she noticed increased student dissatisfaction regarding the issue as well and that she hopes that the town hall provides a forum for students to express their grievances.

“Students felt it wasn’t what they were looking for,” Rush said. “So we’re looking to hear from them and to hear what they would like to see from the college.”

Although other student groups such as the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) have brought their concerns about the student minimum wage to the administration prior to the 50 cent increase. Gmitrovic says the administration hasn’t taken these concerns seriously and hopes that it will be different when SGA presents their findings.

“Because we are the student government and because those on the executive board regularly meet with people like Dean Brooks, Kai Swanson, and President Talentino, we think they will listen to us when we say that students are mad and students want a change,” Gmitrovic said.

The documents committee was already looking into ways to discuss the minimum wage with the campus community when the 50 cent increase was announced. The resulting reaction on campus prompted a broader response from SGA, who have been working on organizing the town hall since.

Senior Isabelle Jordan, president of SGA, describes the campus reaction to the 50 cent increase as an explosion.

“At our meeting the following week, we had 20, 25 students come in just to talk about it,” Jordan said. “We don’t typically see students come in unless there’s something really wrong on campus. Last year, no students came into SGA at all, so we knew it was a big deal.”

Although a lot of students expressed outrage at the announcement originally, Jordan is concerned that attendance for the town hall might be lower than expected since a month has passed since the announcement.

Still, she believes that upwards of 50 students will be in attendance and that the town hall will help students around campus organize and create change.

“I hope [the town hall] invigorates students and engages them, because nothing frustrates me more than students not utilizing their power simply because they don’t think they can,” Jordan said. “I hope if anything, students will be mobilized and actually have a plan to make sure that their voices are heard in whatever way they want to go.”