Press Release for Resolution to Promote Fair Labor Practices and Sustainability in Wesleyan Construction and Maintenance Projects

On Sunday, April 24, the Wesleyan Student Assembly introduced a resolution calling upon the administration to hire unionized, non-exploitative, diverse labor for all upcoming construction projects. A number of projects are slated for the next two years, mainly to be completed over the summer when students are not on campus. Currently the university does not make unionized labor a priority in the hiring process and, while it espouses principals of nondiscrimination, it does not actively aim for the labor force to be diverse. 

The resolution aims to ensure that labor practices for construction projects at Wesleyan are to the highest possible standard. It includes a clause requiring racial, gender identity, religious, and sexual orientation diversity among those hired. It also calls upon the university to ensure that information on payroll and on sexual harassment reporting procedures is freely available and transparent to workers. Because work done on Wesleyan’s campus should be not only equitable but also environmentally sustainable, the resolution recommends that the university make sustainability a priority both in renovations of old buildings and in new construction projects. Amid the bidding process and the selection of contractors for construction projects, the university has many concerns including cost, speed, and safety. Through our resolution we hope to remind the university to make fair labor a top priority.  

The full text of the resolution can be found by clicking here.

Voting will take place on Sunday, May 1st. All are invited.

WSA Endowment Transparency and Ethicality Working Group Press Release

In 2007, Matt Ball, WSA President at the time, proposed an innovative idea for the first ever endowment run by a university student government. He suggested that instead of rolling all left over or unused SBC funds to the next academic year, we invest them so they grow. One of the primary responsibilities of the WSA has long been to manage and allocate the Student Activities Fee in a fair way that supports the vibrant student-run social life we all so dearly love. The goal of the WSA endowment is to ensure the long-term availability of student funds and to hopefully, twenty or thirty years down the road, stop charging students for the Student Activities Fee. Over the last eight years the WSA Endowment has grown a healthy amount to today be an impressive $366,000.

Advocating for socially responsible investment practices runs deep in Wesleyan’s history. Students of diverse identities and political opinions have time and time again raised the point that they don’t want our community to be profiting from activities or sectors that run counter to our community values (such as social justice, human rights, conflict resolution and environmental sustainability, just to name a few). Now that the WSA endowment is on its way to being a substantial endowment, we want to start thinking critically about best management practices.  

The idea behind this new working group is to, in a non-partisan or political way, gather more information on our holdings and how ethical or socially responsible they are. The working group will also brainstorm more local and socially responsible funds where we could potentially reinvest. I’d love to one day see that Wesleyan’s student government isn’t invested in sectors where profits are made from suffering, but instead in areas of the economy that are growing in ways that align with our community values. 

By Kate Cullen '16, WSA President

Discussion on this resolution will happen in the WSA Senate Meeting on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 at 6:30PM in 41 Wyllys, Room 114. We invite all community members to come and voice their opinions on this matter.

Foster Affordable, Reasonable, and Equitable (FARE) Eating Act Press Release

Do you ever feel like your points are able to buy you less and less each year? Well, there’s a reason for that. Since the academic year of 2012-2013, the number of points allocated for each meal plan has not been increased. Thus, as inflation drives up the cost of all products on campus, the amount of points holds less value every year. This means that while the administration has not actively reduced the number of points for each meal plan, we have been hemorrhaging purchasing power as each point is worth less.  To resolve this issue that impacts all of us, the “Foster Affordable, Reasonable, and Equitable (FARE) Eating Act” will redirect a portion of the increase in the Residential Comprehensive Fee to students’ purchasing power, increasing the number of points to adjust for inflation since the last increase.

What the FARE Eating Act does is ensure that students’ purchasing power will be maintained year to year. Going forward, the amount of points students receive will be tied to inflation. This means that the value of each point will remain consistent and never decrease in purchasing value as the price of goods increase. Adding to the good news is the fact that the FARE Eating Act will not increase the Residential Comprehensive Fee more than it would have anyway.  Each year the Board of Trustees increases the Residential Comprehensive Fee by about 3.5%.  Through this, we are maintaining students’ purchasing power without placing an extra burden on students.  The FARE Eating Act means those points will not feel like someone just picked some loose change from your pocket.

By Emma Austin ‘19 and Jacob Maiman-Stadtmauer ‘19

Discussion on this resolution will happen in the WSA Senate Meeting on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016 at 11:30AM in 41 Wyllys, Room 114. We invite all community members to come and voice their opinions on this matter and ask questions.

Cocurricular Leadership Stipend Program Press Release

With new student-run activities on the rise that enrich our community, we need to be sure that every member of our community has the ability to pursue their passion, regardless of socioeconomic status. Organizations like the DIY Builders’ Space and Red Feather Studios are growing rapidly, and thus demand more attention from the students that run them. Even organizations that have been part of Wesleyan for decades have felt pressure. Unfortunately, no safety net exists to ensure that these students are able to balance school, cocurriculars, and work. Work is particularly important.

The WSA for a long time has struggled with socioeconomic diversity, but now it seems that we have begun to turn this trend around. As of January 29th, 18 out of 35 senators receive a work-study stipend, which covers one-fourth of their work-study allotment. That’s one-fourth of a semester’s work potentially freed up, perhaps even one-fourth of a job position that’s now open. I want to commit the WSA to fill the gaps that administration has been struggling to close. Students know what students want, and we cannot wait any longer for someone else to solve the problems we face.

The Stipend Program that the WSA has embarked on will now expand to 5 more student groups as a pilot. $5000 from our own Project Fund will be set aside for those 5 groups. In order to be considered for the pilot, student groups must submit the following: detailed jobs of the students who will receive the stipend, how the student group builds community at Wesleyan, a rewritten mission statement with a commitment to inclusion and diversity, and a plan to include more of Wesleyan into the student group. After reviewing the materials, finalists will meet with SBC, SLC, and CoCo chairs along with 4 senators for an interview. Finally, the student groups who move on will be approved by the WSA President and Vice-President.

I want to be clear: no student group’s budget will be adversely affected by the implementation of the program. The funds will come from the WSA’s Project Fund, which is distinctly different from any SBC allocations. Every student group has something to gain and nothing to lose. Furthermore, this program will be evaluated at the end of the Fall 2016 semester to determine whether or not the pilot should continue. In the Spring of 2017, the final school-wide program will be proposed, and depending on student group interest, there may be a full phase in of the program.

I invite feedback to make this resolution a game-changer in our community for those financial aid students who came here to be students, not workers. Each and every student leader has left their mark on our campus, and it is essential that we ensure that even those who do not have the most financially have a fighting chance to make their mark.

By Aidan Martinez '17, WSA Vice-President

Discussion on this resolution will happen in the WSA Senate Meeting on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 at 6:30PM in 41 Wyllys, Room 114. We invite all community members to come and voice their opinions on this matter.