By Ross Beroff, editorial columnist
Student government election season is coming, and that means voting not just for student body president and executive vice president but also voting on various referenda. The Student Government Association (SGA) approved three referenda for the ballot and rightfully rejected the fourth. Voting will begin on March 26th via myNEU.
One of the referenda is the creation of a Gender Resource Center. While all the positive aspects aren’t completely apparent to me, there are definitely some. Northeastern has had a Gender Resource Center in the past, intermittently closing and opening over time, so even if we do create one, there’s no telling how long it will actually last. There are also potential concerns regarding how effectively it would create a safe space for those who use it.
Another of the referenda is to change the signage on all single-stall bathrooms on campus to read “gender neutral.” The reasons why the university needs gender-neutral bathrooms aren’t fully clear to me, but one thing is certain about this referendum: the passing and implementation will mean more bathrooms that everyone can use, and that can always be a good thing, which is why I will vote yes and encourage everyone else to do so.
The final referendum on the ballot was put forth by members of the Socialist Alternative, the Marxist-esque club on campus, and asks to raise the campus-wide minimum wage to $15 per hour for those working on campus. Before more is said about this, it should be made clear that this raise will not affect student workers as supporters may want people to believe. This referendum, while well-intentioned, is doubtful to be well-implemented.
The idea is wrought with flaws and holes. For one, it does not reasonably take into account all the third-party vendors on our campus such as Wollaston’s, the restaurants in the Curry Student Center and all dining hall workers. It is doubtful that any of these major chains would bend to the will of this small movement and actually increase the wages of their employees to the demanded $15 minimum. The idea of those behind the referendum is for Northeastern to subsidize the difference in wages for all of these employees. This is a lovely idea, but where will the money come from?
Supposedly, the funds will come from our magical, never-ending endowment. Of course, as all those except for the Socialist Alternative seem to understand, our endowment is incredibly finite, as much as the Empower campaign is trying to change that. It is not plausible for the endowment to supply the capital required for such an endeavor.
The promoters of this initiative have made it clear that there is no room for compromise. They said that if the university were to offer $14, they would immediately reject it. In their opinion, the university wouldn’t do such a thing because they think there isn’t that much difference with only one dollar. However, that dollar adds up to quite a bit when it is added onto every single hour. The endowment might be able to handle only increases in wages by the supposedly nominal one dollar, but surely would not be able to handle the larger jump that this campaign aims for. Instead, the money would need to come from somewhere else, almost definitely leading to a tuition increase.
I’m not going to encourage a vote either way on this referendum. Instead, I encourage everyone to think very carefully about all the possible consequences before deciding how they wish to vote.