UISG officials target student wages at low-turnout event


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University of Iowa Student Government officials are modifying plans to create an organization to represent student employees on campus.

After a low turnout at UISG's student worker's summit on Feb. 25, UISG officials said they intend to reach out directly to students' in the university workplace rather than require they show up to events. Roughly 15 students attended the weekend summit.

"[We want to show] them that we are serious about this and UISG isn't just an entity of people who just like to say stuff, but we practice what we preach," said UISG Chief of Staff Navi Bajwa. "This is something very important for the university, and it is our responsibility that we see this through."

Starting this week, UISG officials will visit workplaces on campus and speak with student workers collectively.

"[We want to] sit down and talk with them to get their perspectives," Bajwa said. "I'm planning on just hearing good things hopefully."

Student payment and work hours were students' biggest concerns at the summit. UISG officials and students discussed possibilities to make changes, though some UI officials said there are some limits to what the UI can change.

"I think that the university has a pretty good average pay rate for its students," said Cynthia Seyfer, the director of student employment at UI Student Financial Aid. "The wage is set by the employing unit. The [UI] does not govern those wages."

Susan Marks, the director of human resources and diversity programs for University Libraries, said students pay is set through allocated funds by the UI general budget.

"We're only allocated a certain amount of money that only stretches so far," she said. "But anything other than salary, I think [employers] would be happy to talk to students and hear what they have to say."

Marks said she supports the new student organization.

"I think student employment is a totally enriching experience as well as income, she said. "And anything that provides support is fantastic."

UISG officials are still developing schedules and representatives for the student organization.

"We are going to move forward with this," Bajwa said. "My next step right now is to get students in line to be founders and to lead the group."

Bajwa said he wants to make sure the UISG is accountable for its plans and hopes to have a constitution ready following spring break so the organization can obtain an official student organization status. As a student organization, it can also recieve funding.

"I'm working my hardest to help my fellow students in and way," Bajwa said. "I can, and I'm going to keep going until we've met our goals."

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