Missouri Western’s decision to not raise minimum wage for student workers has sparked controversy around campus.
The Human Resources Department sent out an email to a select amount of faculty members on Friday, Jan. 11 regarding the minimum wage increase that was passed by Proposition B. The message sent out stated, “With the recent passage of Proposition B, we have received a lot of questions about the minimum wage increase which went into effect on January 1, 2019. Missouri state statutes exempt government employees from the increase, so Missouri Western will continue with current compensation rates since our fiscal year budgets are already set through June 30, 2019. This gives us time to examine the effects of the minimum wage increase and determine what is feasible for the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget.”
The topic was discussed at the Student Government Association meeting held in Blum Union on Monday, Jan. 14. After it was brought up, an administrative advisor gave out documents to all the members present that explained the university’s reasoning in more depth. At the bottom of the document was a final reasoning. The small paragraph stated, “The university values its student employees and their contributions. The decision to not increase wages was made because budgets for the year are already set, and it would be difficult to shift resources midstream without reducing the number of student employment positions or hours.”
Although the university released this statement, some students are feeling upset by the news and think the situation wasn’t handled properly.
Evan Banks has been working on campus for three years and thinks the university is being unfair to students and not showing that they are valued. Although Banks is a member of SGA, he asked for it to be stated that his opinions are coming as student worker, not as a member of the organization.
“I was very angry,” Banks said. “My initial reaction was betrayal. They promote this place as an applied learning campus or as a place where you can get work experience, and that is one of their most valuable assets, and that is certainly true. I’ve gained lots of work experience here. I’ve made a lot of connections here, and I have benefited from being employed by this institution, but that is not a justification for not meeting the minimum standards of decency.”
Other students who are former workers are also expressing their disappointment. Kaitlyn Whaley worked for the university last semester as a resident assistant and thinks the situation is unfair to many students.
“I mean, we’re obviously paying them a lot of money to be here, and we’re also trying to work so we can pay them,” Whaley said. “Even though it was passed by Missouri, it’s a thing. They’re not abiding to it. They’re sticking to their minimum wage, and to me, it seems unfair. Unless students really like their job, I think they should find somewhere that’s gonna pay them more.”
Banks wants to let the student body know that although he feels he comes from a place of privilege, he promises to do his best to “find a solution that is best for everyone and doesn’t involve students being taken advantage of in this way.” Banks also wishes that the university would’ve addressed the student body instead of sending an email to advisors. For the time being, Banks plans to communicate to as many stakeholders as possible and to try get the “whole story.”
Banks also asked that it be stated that he had many different projects that he was working on for SGA before his term ended, and he has decided to make the minimum wage issue his top priority. For students who want to help or simply have a say in the matter, please contact Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org.