UMN students voice opinions on Gabel’s salary increase

The Minnesota Student Association released a statement opposing the pay raise, which will amount to over $1.1 million by 2026.

Sarah Mai

Sarah Mai

by Madison Roth

On Dec. 17, the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents voted to raise the pay for President Joan Gabel, prompting reactions from students across the University.

According to the new contract formed by the Board of Regents, Gabel will earn over $1.1 million with salary increases, bonuses and supplementary retirement funds by the end of her employment. The Minnesota Student Association (MSA) released a statement on Dec. 16, stating that they were going to advocate for student wages to be raised and were opposed to President Gabel’s pay raise.

Fourth-year student and MSA Board of Regents student representative Gurtaran Johal said in an email to the Minnesota Daily that “student leaders have been advocating for change in student wages for over half a decade. Yet, student wages continue to remain at a mere $10.33.”

First-year student Aubrey Strittmater works at the front desk at Centennial Hall. As a student worker, she said she makes $10.25 an hour.

“As a freshman in college, I feel like there are not many jobs I can get,” Strittmater said. “I have a job because I’m scared to be in debt.”

There were efforts to increase the minimum wage for students in the past, including a 2018 effort to raise it to $15 an hour.

“We must seek action rather than empty promises that receive no response,” Johal said. “We must pressure the Board [of Regents] into understanding the student experience and the rising financial constraints many face.”

The Board raised Gabel’s wages to match the average of other presidents’ salaries at Big Ten universities, according to the meeting notes.

In September 2020, the University of Minnesota cut three sports programs: men’s tennis, men’s gymnastics and men’s indoor/outdoor track and field.

Fourth-year student and MSA Vice President Samiat Ajibola said it was frustrating to see the University form the new contract with the president because it signals a lack of support for student issues, like sports funding or mental health resource funding.

“Students are a big, if not the biggest, stakeholders at this university,” second-year student Flora Yang said in an email to the Minnesota Daily. “I really think that the quality of life of our students should be the top priority, and that this is what we should be focusing on for the time being.”

Yang said that some students find Gabel’s pay raise an issue because the University only considered a pay raise for the president, not for faculty, staff or student workers.

No other president at the University of Minnesota has earned over a million dollars by the end of their career, making Gabel the first in University history, according to the University’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors press release.

The question now, according to Yang and other MSA members, is where the money for Gabel’s raise is coming from — there is currently no confirmed answer to this question.

“I’m paying all this money to be here and get an education, I’m working for them,” Strittmater said. “The least they could do is help me with my debt.”