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Senate passes resolution calling for improvements in University workers’ compensation

| Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Notre Dame student senate passed a resolution Wednesday calling for the University to implement compensation and labor policies that reduce economic hardship for University workers.

Resolution 2223-07 called on Notre Dame, the largest employer in South Bend and St. Joseph County, to offer starting hourly wages comparable to that of nearby employers. In the resolution, the sponsors referenced “successful” plans implemented by other universities to raise their minimum wage for on-campus jobs to $15 per hour.

2223-07 said the University’s starting wages do not amount to “living” wages in St. Joseph County, according to a MIT study. Current compensation and labor policies in place by the University do not align with Catholic Social Teaching, the resolution stated.

The resolution comes in light of the Raising the Standard Campaign submitting a similar proposal calling for policies such as a $15 minimum wage for students and a cost-of-living adjustment for all workers. 110 faculty members signed an open letter supporting the proposal. 

In terms of the senate resolution, first-year Howard Hall senator first-year Isabelle Grace — who sponsored it — said its goal is to serve as a call to action rather than enact actual policies.

“I think it’s important to this resolution, the point of it is more of like a call for action,” Grace said. “Because as the senate we don’t really have that power to actually make economic policy.”

Grace said she expects the University to be able to implement policies to reduce economic hardship without significant financial ramifications for University operations.

“Obviously this would be a ridiculous resolution to put forth if this just economically was not feasible at all,” she said.

Institutions Grace mentioned in the resolution that raised their minimum wages included Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan.

Keough Hall senator first-year Derick Williams said now is the time to push the University to raise wages because the students have bargaining power due to the labor shortage.

“I think that us as students right now in the current climate of the world, that we’re at the greatest opportunity that we have for bargaining power. I know for a fact the University needs workers and our student workers need more money,” Williams said. “And I think that presents us a great opportunity to push for some of the things mentioned in this resolution. 

Williams said he has spoken with fellow Keough Hall residents who hold on-campus jobs about their wages. 

“A lot of them are struggling, specifically lower income or first generation students that rely quite a bit on this kind of income for the University to pay for their college education,” he said.

The resolution passed with overwhelming support.

The senate also passed a resolution to revise the senate bylaws. Student body vice president and chairperson of the senate sophomore Sofie Stitt wrote the resolution which proposed to amend the bylaws to require all senators to serve on at least one executive cabinet department as a department member. Previously, only residence hall senators were required to serve on a department.

“We found that some of our super, super active senators historically weren’t just residence hall senators,” Stitt said. “And so to ask people to do all of [their duties] and to vote on behalf of people and then not have them be all on departments doesn’t feel great, especially given that student government as a whole is designed to serve on-campus students and off-campus students.”

Other business involved passing an order to suspend vacancy elections and also amending the bylaws to require the agenda for senate meetings to be sent to the whole senate at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, the senate adjourned for summer recess.

The article previously misquoted Isabelle Grace. The Observer regrets this error.

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About Ryan Peters

Ryan is a sophomore in Knott Hall from Lake Forest, Illinois. He is majoring in business analytics and minoring in constitutional studies. He currently serves as Notre Dame News Editor for The Observer. Follow him on Twitter @peterrsryan.

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