SGA Liveable Wage Debate Yields No Outcome

The meeting of the SGA began with a presentation by the all male acappella group, Top Cats who performed “Sister Golden Hair” and a serenade of “Happy Birthday” to Senator Banks. A vote was then held on whether the club should be officially recognized by SGA, which resulted in the group becoming an official student organization. This was followed by a presentation from the Center for Student Ethics and Standards. Presented were policies on alcohol abuse, including the Common Source Policy, which states that even if a student is over 21 they are in violation of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities if they are found in possession of more than 24 servings of alcohol. The other policy presented was the “Got Your Back!” policy, which states that if a student is having a drug or alcohol related emergency, another student who calls for help will not be subject to the judicial process. In some circumstances the student having the emergency may not have to follow through the judicial process as well. Continued in the public forum was a presentation and then approved recognition of the UVM Snowboard Team. This team differs from the Ski and Snowboard Club because it is competitive based. A presentation by a member of the Eco Reps was then given in which she explained their responsibilities. The main topic for the meeting was the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign. A representative of the campaign gave a presentation in which she wanted to show how certain members of the UVM staff are being paid under what the State of Vermont Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) estimates and deems to be a “livable wage.” This livable wage is based on what the JFO believes it costs to meet basic needs and necessities in the state of Vermont. The formula the JFO uses takes in account family size, and money spent on rent, heath care, clothing, and food, among others in determining how much money is required to meet these basic needs. For example, they determined that for a single person a livable wage is $12.02 an hour and for a single parent with two children a salary of $20.80 is needed. The representative for the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign stated that 167 out of 307 service and maintenance workers make less than a livable wage. Questions and comments from the Senate ranged from the reliability of the numbers to opposition from members of the Financial Committee, Senator Wildstein commented that if people don’t like their jobs they shouldn’t take them and Senator Cardan noted that “staff members clean our bathrooms.” Mr. Gustafson, Vice President for Student and Campus Life was their to give a rebuttal to the Campaign agenda, saying that he is not for or against, but is skeptical about the figures presented and claimed that the issues are more complex with unknown implications. Mr. Gustafson claimed he was unaware about his responsability to appear at the meeting until earlier that day and thus was not able to answer or comment on many questions. Debate continued about whether or not it’s the SGA’s responsibility to deal with this issue or if a sub-committee should be formed to investigate the issue further. It was then voted on to table the issue (hold it off for two weeks), in which President Poirier expressed her disappointment in not being able to vote, saying a committee could still be formed after an opinion is reached. The purpose of the vote was to come to a majority opinion of the SGA, not to pass the agenda presented by Vermont Livable Wage Campaign, instead further debate and investigation will continue.