The Student Government Association’s minimum wage town hall meeting on Tuesday evening was cut short — lasting approximately five minutes — due to low attendance.
The town hall was originally advertised as an hour and a half event with a presentation and questioning and commenting period, but it ended early when three students came for the town hall.
Communications Director Noah Hutchinson said student disengagement is a trend SGA has seen for various organizations and student activities this semester.
“If this isn’t what they want us to do, that’s not what they want us to do,” Hutchinson said. “But ultimately they have to tell us that. I definitely think yeah we want to continue dialogue with them. It’s kind of just all about continuing to provide the opportunity [to engage] to students.”
Despite the low turnout, Strategic Planning Director Brightyn Patterson gave a presentation about SGA research into the student minimum wage, citing seven on-campus retail jobs that start at $8.50 and the cost of living. Beyond what was covered, several on-campus jobs start below the $8.50 spot and above the federal $7.25 minimum wage.
SGA is pushing for minimum wage in part because they found the average rent cost in Denton has increased 2 percent to $1,211, which would require an annual income of $24,356 to afford. This required income does not account for tuition, textbooks or groceries and meal plan costs.
“We’ve talked to President Smatresk and administrators and we’ve gotten a few numbers and research back of what would happen if we put it to $9.50, which is pretty fair, I would say, but not a livable wage yet,” Patterson said.
Another point Patterson brought up in favor of raising the student minimum wage was some on-campus jobs, like Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Jamba Juice, Fuzzy’s and the Corner Store, have a lower hourly pay than their off-campus equivalents.
“We want to make sure that our on-campus workers are either [earning] the same or more than those off-campus for competitive wages,” Patterson said.
SGA also held a livestream on Twitter after the town hall where Patterson gave her presentation again. The live stream had around 400 viewers an hour after it was streamed.
With a newly expanded communications team, Hutchinson said SGA will provide more opportunities in the future for students to communicate with them.
“We’ll be tabling twice a week throughout the semester so we’re giving more opportunities to students,” Hutchinson said. “We just expanded our communications and marketing team, so we’ll be able to have a whole team of people being able to talk to students and see what they want from their SGA. We’re equipped now, so we just have to go out and do it.”
Featured Image: SGA executives converse at the minimum wage town hall, which was cut short due to low turnout on Feb. 11, 2020. Image by Isabel Anes.