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SGA shows support for higher University staff wages


. | Alana Howard/The Cougar

A bill supporting higher wages for lower-income University staff, an act pushing for a Styrofoam-free campus and the appointment of an undergraduate-at-large senator were the focus of Wednesday night’s meeting of the Student Government Association Senate.

The motion was pushed through the Senate to ensure support for the Staff Council’s request for the University to institute a full pay scale review immediately. 

“The staff council is really who I want to involve in writing this resolution. They have monthly meetings with HR where they try to get similar things done, but HR moves slow and that is one of my frustrations,” said SGA President Cameron Barrett.

The last time the University did a pay scale review was in March of 2014, Barrett said. According to UH’s Human Resources department, Barrett said, a pay scale review needs to be done every three years — it’s been more than four.

“Its a crazy disproportion on the high end (of the University’s pay scale). It was so incredibly exponential that it seemed that the lower income positions are most affected” Barrett said.

With support from SGA, Barrett hopes that a pay scale review will be done by HR alongside Class Council representatives so the minimum wage can be raised.

“This is not a student issue, it’s a staff-side issue,” Barrett said. “I think it’s important for us to show support for their work, and these are our own proposals that they should look at.”

Barrett hopes the minimum wage for UH employees will be raised to at least $9. He thinks this should fall well within reason for the University’s budget.

When the Senate asked about Barrett’s experience talking with HR about the issue, Barrett said he would rather not talk about what exactly happened, “but it was not a great meeting.”

The Senate meeting also touched on the Trans Inclusion Act, which asks that students have the option to change their name within the University’s system and on their Cougar Card.

The act targets transgender students because they are the demographic most affected by this bill. However, this bill is meant to aid anyone who decides to go by a different name, said SGA Chief of Staff Allison Lawrence.

However, the ability for students to change their recognized gender within the University’s system is not included as part of the Trans Inclusion Act, as the University has not yet reviewed this option. Lawrence said this should be an initiative in the future.

The Styrofoam-Free National Dining Franchise Act, which explains how UH is taking initiative to become a Styrofoam-free University, was also discussed. Panda Express and Chick-Fil-A have already started this process at their on-campus locations.

The University’s Administration and Finance Committee would need to approve this bill if it is passed during a future Senate meeting. 

Sophomore political science student, Azali Jeffrey, was unanimously appointed to the Undergraduate-at-Large Senate seat. 

Jeffery said she plans to focus on community outreach to help students gain volunteer hours, and she also wants to put together events catered to all students that are focused on issues that are not commonly vocalized, such as mental and sexual health.

“Since the moment I have been here, I’ve been wanting to get very involved in campus, and I think SGA is a great outlet for that, especially with working with the previous administration I got to see the full scope of it, and the impact that they did have” Jefferey said.

Jeffery is also interested in making her primary committee Student Life or the Administration and Finance Committee. 

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