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CSA Denies Minimum Wage Increase Proposal

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Last Monday, April 16, Carleton Student Association Senate (CSA) denied the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) resolution, 7-11 with three abstentions, to raise Carleton’s minimum wage for student workers to $15/hour. DSA has been working on this resolution for a while and had sat down with CSA in the previous two meetings to discuss aspects of the resolution and questions from the senators.

At last Monday’s meeting, senators asked questions about DSA’s plans if CSA passes the measure

for discussions with the administration, how this might affect available work hours and whether the pay increase would bring an increase in responsibilities for some jobs. Senator Molubah Seley ’21 asked about student managers’ wages, correlations between wage and tuition increase, and financial aid and wage increase.

Senator Mika Takamori ’20 said she felt “I’m a student who pays money and I don’t think that I have the financial need for a wage increase and I think that students like me shouldn’t get more money out of the school. I think that that money should go to students who need it.” Takamori ’20 also asked about the idea of raising minimum wage of staff instead of student workers.

DSA responded that “we just believe the testimonials that raising the minimum wage could possibly help other non-student workers. But on top of that, there’s a couple of options where all these student on financial aid could get $15. There’s some issues that arise from that as well.”

Senator Eileen Lower ’20 asked “why do you believe that it is most efficient to correlate your financial security as a student to your non- academic work? I feel that trying to take more money from these nice building projects into financial aid in the form of grants would be more equitable way to accomplish those same goals.”

After the vote CSA President Apoorva Handigol ’19 thanked the group for their work on the resolution and assured them: “Know that this is not the end of this project. You can definitely come back to us in the fall, hopefully after more conversations with administrations about how this initiative can feasibly and tangibly work out in the future.”

DSA plans to keep working on their initiative, focusing on different aspects of building their support. “We’re keeping asking people to sign our petition, to read it, sitting out at tables and answering questions about it. We have 367 people signed on right now,” Amelia Blair-Smith ’21, a leader of DSA, explained.

Paul Kirk-Davidoff ’18, another leader of DSA, said “We’re getting more support for it. And I think another big priority for us to start talking to staff more and we haven’t really reached out to the staff enough I don’t think. I think talking to staff about this is something we’re all looking to do in the next month and year after that. Also, I have heard that people at St.Olaf are starting to campaign to raise the minimum wage there and I am going over on Monday to talk to people there.”

Kirk-Davidoff also confirmed that the group would possibly be returning to CSA again in the future. “I had never presented to the CSA on a resolution and Amelia is a freshman and hasn’t done it either so I think there is definitely some things that we can learn just about how the CSA operates and how resolutions operate,” said Kirk-Davidoff.

Blair-Smith talked about how she felt like the idea was gaining traction in the community, “Student workers are really starting to think about their rights, and ‘what services am I rendering the college and how much of my time am I putting in and you know how am I getting compensated for that.’”

The DSA’s plan for action right now, Blair-Smith explained, is “Just trying to get as many people to sign onto this petition as possible. Get a large student backing and a large percentage of the student body that we could show the administration that this is what the students want, and if measures get further and people aren’t responsive to that well presented voice of the student body we might have to take things into more direct action.”

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