by Jack Melanson & Daniel Molina
Just before the College closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, other doors were seemingly being opened for students.
Student Government’s revamping of Government Professor Margaret Groarke’s minimum wage proposal met the Manhattan College Senate on Nov. 21, passing unanimously.
The proposal specifically called for the following, which was stated as the rationale behind the bill.
“The Manhattan College Student Government propose that the minimum wage for all student college employees at least meet that of New York State standards, which shall presently incrementally increase to $15.00 by December 31st, 2018.”
Currently, student employees are making less than New York State standards.
“This is really happening,” said Ryan Quattromani, senior class vice president.
Quattromani also noted that this proposal was the first of the year to pass successfully.
The passed proposal, however, was slightly reformed by Engineering Dean Tim J. Ward in a way that appeared to respect Student Government’s initial draft.
“[Student Government’s] proposal in its exact form wasn’t the proposal that passed. Dean Ward had written his own resolution,” said Quattromani. “In more broad terms it still said the same thing, but it was a summary. I was fine voting on it because it seemed like it was easier for people to comprehend.”
Jimena Gonzalez, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics and finance in the School of Business, commented on the issue while providing insights on minimum wage.
“When there is a minimum wage, the government imposes a wage that it is above the equilibrium [between labor demand and labor supply],” he said. “When that happens, the labor demanded is less than the labor supplied, which means that there are more workers willing to work at this higher rate than what is demanded, which causes unemployment.”
With that said, the professor continued to share that he feels this would be different at the college employment level.
“Economically, the College matching the city’s minimum wage is not as disruptive because the alternative for students would be to work off campus and they would make above what they got paid before.”
Trying to grasp all possible setbacks and ramifications, Student Body President Micaela Bishop spoke on the issue.
“We understand that there is going to be difficulties, but we’ve asked Dean Satterlee in particular, and the people that he’s working with, to let us know which departments can budget for this in the spring, and who can actually pay their students this increased wage,” said Bishop.
Although this process could become more lengthy than anticipated, Bishop and Quattromani are pleased with the path that they foresee.
“The intention of this proposal was to instate this immediately, but we [Student Government] get that it will take time to actually do so,” said Quattromani. “We will work with Dr. Satterlee to look at specific budgets, and he is going to reach out to those in charge of the budgets, giving them a deadline of some sort to vocalize any concerns that they might have.”
Increased wages may differ based on the individual department that any given student is employed.
“Some departments may be operating under-budget,” said Bishop. “They can implement this immediately.”
Specifically, the departments of concern are the fitness tutoring centers.
“The only departments really of concern are the tutoring department and the fitness center, because of how dependant they are on many students,” Quattromani said.
“The tutoring center and the fitness center are constantly staying open, so if it’s not in the current budget we’ll have to continue looking into it more to accommodate all students,” said Bishop.
Bishop continued to address the difficulty of this matter, but remained optimistic that positive conclusions will be reached.
“We need to look at everything and implement this wherever we can. This may be more difficult in the tutoring and fitness centers because they require a lot more student employees and a lot more hours worked, but eventually it will be possible everywhere,” she said.
In the departments that will more easily afford this change, students should notice higher pay rates quickly.
“Departments that are able to pay their students 13 dollars an hour based on their current budget, will be paying their students 13 dollars an hour. Most of them already want to,” said Bishop.
“We have employers that want to pay their students 13 dollars an hour now, but can’t,” he said. “When they submit their budget requests they’re denied. So this, to some employers, is exciting because they now can pay their student employees minimum wage.”
Bishop and Quattromani would have preferred an across-the-board hike immediately, but they remain pleased in the change that they feel is soon to occur.
“We can promise this change to students in the fall,” said Quattromani. “It’s important that students know that this increase will not happen right away, but by the fall semester it will be, although we’re hoping for all of the budgeting issues to be solved earlier.”
“Our intention is for all students to make 13 dollars an hour for the spring semester, but there is a possibility that we cannot fully implement that due to a mid-year budget,” he said.
The pair then spoke of the students, saying that this change is justified and also dependant on their continual activism in regards to the matter.
“Some students don’t even use all of their federal work study money with this current system, yet they’re awarded it,” said Quattromani. “To me it seems kind of criminal to not give it to them. Now, with students having to work less hours towards this, it will be easier for them to exhaust their allowed earnings.”
“It’s very exciting stuff,” she said. “I hope that the students will find out about this and will be able to hold administration accountable. I hope that they are aware of these changes and continue to stand up for what is just, being paid minimum wage.”
Bishop then urged students to continue to take charge of their own wages in order for this proposal to be ultimately successful.
“I don’t think it would hurt for students to ask their employers, ‘hey, is there a reason why I’m not making 13 dollars an hour?’,” she said.
Quattromani continued to share that, “they [campus employers] are going to have to have this answer now.”
Bishop added that Student Government is more than willing to assist students during this approaching change.
“We want students to know that if they have any questions, they should come to Student Government and ask us these questions,” she said. “If people are having issues, please come to us.”
Quattromani finished her sentence.
“Our role on campus is to be the active voice of the student body, and that is what we’re trying to be,” he said.