This story was written by Charlie Wolfson for the Huntington News.
Student senators passed resolutions to support Northeastern dining hall workers’ efforts toward raising salaries and to change Northeastern’s observance of Columbus day to Indigenous People’s Day at their session Monday.
These resolutions, which the Northeastern Student Government Association (SGA) calls “Senses of the Senate,” do not carry the weight of policy, rather they are official statements that represent the entire student body. The 75 voting senators passed each resolution almost unanimously, with less than six votes in opposition for each.
SGA officially supports dining hall workers
SS-FA-17-101, a Sense of the Senate to support food service workers, garnered support among the senate during debate due to concerns that dining hall workers are not currently being paid a living wage, and a belief that the Northeastern student body should advocate for all members of the Northeastern community instead of just students. The resolution supports food service workers in their efforts to get minimum salaries of $35,000.
“Back when I was still on a meal plan, I remember food workers were always ready and willing to provide us with what we needed,” said Vice President for Student Involvement Brian Hamp, a fourth-year bioengineering major. “It should be on us to support them after they work tirelessly to provide us with something we, quite literally, need to get through the day.”
First-year politics, philosophy and economics major Max Willner-Giwerc reiterated the need for students to advocate alongside members of the Northeastern community who are in need.
“We are all Huskies,” he said. “Whether it’s a student, a professor, a librarian, a custodian, a dining hall worker, we’re all Huskies … on this issue, silence is injustice.”
Fourth-year combined biology and political science major Aubrey Kenderdine and second-year computer science and criminal justice combined major Nafisa Kabir, both student senators, were among the minority who opposed the resolution, citing concerns that such action would move the workers toward striking.
“We really have to think about the freshmen who use the dining halls every day,” Kenderdine said. “If [the workers] don’t get their demands, which are high, they might do what other schools have done which is going on strike. And that really does affect freshman and some others who are on the dining plan.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Nathan Hostert, a second-year political science major, responded to Kenderdine’s comments, saying the workers will go on strike regardless of the
Senate’s decision and that passing this resolution could serve to strengthen their cause thereafter.
The workers voted to strike Wednesday 316 to 2.
The resolution passed with 53 yae votes and three nay.
Executive Vice President Paulina Ruiz said she thinks that Monday’s vote could have a significant effect on the administration’s action on the issue.
“It’s difficult for the administration to act without student input,” said Ruiz, a third-year psychology major. “Now that we’ve officially declared our support, shown in this overwhelming vote, they know without doubt the feeling of the student body on this issue.
Ruiz said she thinks that this vote alone will not resolve the issue, rather a combination of SGA support and work already being done by student groups, such as Huskies Organizing With Labor.
SGA urges Northeastern to observe “Indigenous People’s Day”, nix Columbus Day
The other resolution on the table Monday (SS-FA-17-102) declared a Sense of the Senate that Northeastern’s observance of Columbus Day be changed to Indigenous People’s Day in order to be more inclusive, respectful and mindful of the people affected by colonization.
Student Body President Suchira Sharma spoke in favor of the resolution, encouraging Northeastern to “match its policy to its practice.”
“The way things have been do not need to be the way things will be,” said Sharma, a fourth-year business administration major.
Third-year business major Peter Teodorescu said the act would actually get rid of diversity.
“I think it’s a great idea to celebrate indigenous people,” he said. “But I don’t like the idea of just replacing Columbus Day with it. That just underlines our values of taking things that we like and eliminating what we don’t want to hear.”
This resolution passed with 48 yae votes and five nay. Both resolutions have been submitted to the faculty Senate for their consideration.
The faculty Senate is not bound to take any action or make any statement, but they are compelled to at least bring up the motions at a meeting.