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MSA leads ‘Fight for $15’ campaign

The Minnesota Student Association and other student organizations fight to increase the student minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Illustration by Eva Berezovsky
Image by Eva Berezovsky

Illustration by Eva Berezovsky

The Minnesota Student Association (MSA) at the University of Minnesota, along with other student groups at the University, met Wednesday to discuss their plan to increase the minimum wage for student workers on campus to $15 an hour.

The other student organizations involved are the Black Student Union (BSU), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), College Democrats, Young Democratic Socialists of America, Students for Climate Justice, the Food Recovery Network and several student workers at the University.

The goal of the Fight for $15 campaign is to raise the minimum wage for student workers to $15 an hour, if not more.

Part of the campaign is to pass a referendum in the upcoming campus elections. For the referendum to appear on the ballot, 800 signatures are needed, and as of now, there are over 3,100 signatures on the petition, according to MSA member Carter Yost.

The upcoming elections will be held March 21 to 25 with the Fight for $15 referendum being on the voting ballot.

According to the University’s Office of Human Resources, the minimum wage for student workers is $10.33 an hour, with some jobs starting at more. However, for the city of Minneapolis, the starting wage is $15 an hour for employers with over 100 employees.

Mina Zhang, a second-year student and MSA social media specialist, talked about why the Fight for $15 campaign is important to students and workers at the University.

“It’s important that we address the fact that prices are going up, wages in the city of Minneapolis are going up, but student workers here at the U, their wages aren’t,” Zhang said.

Nikhil Kumaran, a third-year student and MSA outreach coordinator, spoke about the pay increase President Joan Gabel received in December of last year.

“We’re upset due to Joan Gabel’s increase in wage and not really reflecting her care for students because she is getting X amount of money while students are making below the average salary than people in the city of Minneapolis,” Kumaran said.

Many University undergraduate students said their concerns with not having enough money to pay for rent, groceries and tuition causes stress and anxiety.

Annie Russell-Pribnow, a second-year student and SDS representative, said students struggle to focus on academics when they do not know where their next meal is coming from and worry about paying their rent.

Ru Bashir, a second-year student as well as a representative from BSU and MSA, talked about how Black students believe they are paid less than their white counterparts in the workplace.

“It’s really important that employers are looking at their pay policies and making sure they’re ruling out any inequities, and for students that starts right here at the U,” Bashir said. “Majority of Black students come from low-income households, and in order to give back to our household and to be able to fund for ourselves, it’s really important that we get paid an equitable wage.”

Yost, a second-year student and co-chair of the Fight for $15 MSA committee, talked about how the University is failing to support their students by not raising the minimum wage.

“If students aren’t compensated for their work to an extent that is sufficient to access basic student needs, then that’s a failure to the University to provide the most fundamental support systems to the students that pay to attend here in the first place,” Yost said.

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  • A Gopher
    Mar 5, 2022 at 11:30 am

    Additionally, a lot of these budgets supporting that pay are extremely tight. If you were paid $15 an hour prepare to have fewer hours and fewer staff. That means more work and no more slacking on the job. Is that what you really want?

  • UMN0001
    Mar 4, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    The university supports their students by offering extremely flexible work arrangements. in the “real world” once you graduate, there is no position ever that allows you to work in 1-2 hr. increments between classes, continually call in when you need to get some coursework/studying done, etc.

    You can choose to work off campus for more, but you will sacrifice flexibility, convenience, and location.

    ***Also, if you need to “give back to our household”, maybe college isn’t right for you. Plenty of full-time positions offering more than $15/hr. to support your family with zero experience necessary.