All student employees of UW Tacoma receive a $1.53 raise and will now make at least $11 dollars an hour due to Seattle campus’ minimum wage announcement on March 31, 2015. Approximately 250 student employees will be affected, effective April 1, 2015.
The proposal laid out by UW Seattle will incrementally raise student wages from the current $11 an hour rate, up to $15 dollars an hour by January 2017. It is still widely unknown how this process will be handled at the Tacoma and Bothell campuses. Student jobs at UW Tacoma are funded from a number of different university sources, a mass majority coming from student fees.
With the current raise to $11 dollars an hour, the Services and Activities Fee Committee (SAFC) will immediately see an increase in payouts of approximately $15,736 more toward student employees this year. On January 1, 2016 when minimum wage is raised to $13 dollars an hour, that number jumps up to $71,819 dollars. The final raise to $15 dollars an hour will be implemented January 1, 2017 and costing UW Tacoma $99,036 extra dollars towards student employment.
Currently, UW Tacoma students pay $159 in SAFC fees per quarter. The projected proposal would raise each student’s fee $2, making it $161. However, there are limitations to what the university can do to raise the service admiration fee, which students pay quarterly, much like dues. UW Tacoma cannot simply raise the fee without reason, there must be just cause in order to implement a raise, or else the university breaks code. According to Washington Administrative Code (WAC) to raise a fee you must obtain one of two requirements. First, fees can only be raised if the university’s tuition is raised. Thus, if there is no increase in tuition, the fee is not allowed to increase. Second, the fee can be increased to match the percentage of cost of living, which was calculated to be 1.7 percent as of this year by the state.
A $2 increase in the service and activity fee would generate upwards of $25,000 in SAFC funds, which, in the big picture would only cover approximately 1/3 of the total costs.
According to Dean of Student Engagement Ed Mirecki the current situation UW Tacoma administration faces is “interesting” and “extremely complicated and complex”. With no extra source of revenue from the state for the university, Mirecki states that Student Activity Fee budget cuts is, “a potential that is out there.” He acknowledges that, “ultimately, increased wages [are] a good thing.” The university only needs to figure out how to make changes in what Mirecki calls “a way that is equitable within our community” and won’t “impact people disproportionately.”
UW Tacoma is currently gathering a committee to discuss and plan for how student payment will be handled in the future. The board will consist of various members of the ASUWT and the SAFC. With the fiscal year approaching on July 1, 2015 there is a “strong sense of urgency” says Mirecki, in the committee getting a current, working budget proposal by the middle of May.
On Wednesday, April 29 SAFC hosted a public forum discussing the possibilities of how the raise in payment will affect the UW Tacoma community. Student involvement in this matter is of the highest importance, and it is the SAFC’s goal to maintain clear communication with all students with any sort of questions.
More news about the minimum wage increase will be available as talks progress in the near future.