Student wages, upgraded first-year housing: What students can expect from USG’s Tuition Allocation Bill

Student wages, upgraded first-year housing: What students can expect from USG’s Tuition Allocation Bill

The Undergraduate Student Government at Case Western Reserve University is currently working on negotiating the Tuition Allocation Bill. While many parts of the bill are already confirmed, such as an increase in wages for student workers at CWRU, should the rest of it be approved, it would mean improvements in IT, accessibility and first year Housing.

USG President Basil Yaseen and Vice President of Communications Aaron Bielecki talked about what their bill does. They said, “The USG Tuition Allocation Bill is an annual bill that helps highlight specific areas where a student’s tuition money will be given. In essence, this bill is a way for students to have a direct say in where their tuition money is spent.” Yaseen and Bielecki noted that this is the main avenue where students can influence how their tuition amount is spent.

They noted how in the past, the Tuition Allocation Bill has “created the 24/5 hours at KSL, increase in student wages, expanding dining hall hours, and introducing the night link shuttle for late night travels.”

One of the largest asks from USG comes in the form of “a 10% increase in student wages every year.”

The Office of the Provost responded with, “We agree! The FY25 budget process is underway and all departments have been informed that student employment minimum wages are increasing by 10%.”

“[We are] personally excited about both the Accessibility and the Student Wage increase. A multitude of students rely on Student employment as a reliable income while studying at CWRU. This increase in student wages is one way to help reduce financial stress for students living on campus,” noted the Office of the Provost.

While provisions related to student wages were popular and mutually agreed upon, the other subject areas resulted in some contention between USG and the Office of the Provost.

Among those was the issue of accessibility on campus. Yaseen and Bielecki said, “Although all our buildings are up to code, accessibility, especially in the Mather Quad, still has areas to be addressed. Hopefully, this proposal can help remediate accessibility issues so the campus is available to everyone regardless of ability.”

In their bill, USG requested a “thorough inspection of access points to buildings on Mather Quad to implement more accessible entry and exit points.” Their response noted, “Every building is required to be (and is) up to all code standards (building, fire, electrical, etc), but we do recognize that being up to code is not always an optimal solution for each building” and that facilities are working on a map of to “help show disabled accesses.”

Though many at the accompanying General Assembly meeting were left unimpressed. College of Arts and Sciences Representative Jack Loomis commented that “there are no wheelchair accessible buildings in all of the Mather Quad.”

First-Year Representative Bhavya Bansal further noted that many of the buildings on campus, while they had ramps and elevators, had parts that are otherwise inaccessible, for example offices.

Likewise, another issue brought up was that “Many students have complaints about the slow connection or lack of connectivity to begin with,” and so USG requested more funding for University Technology.

In written comments to The Observer, the university has only received 696 support tickets about the Wi-Fi connection. They said many of them may be device related issues rather than Wi-Fi ones at the start of the semester.

The Office of the Provost said, “we have no data or tickets indicating a problem with slow connections or lack of connectivity.” This statement was met with ridicule among the USG meeting, as Vice President of Finance Marlee Yancey said, “We can’t get the data if we don’t have Wi-Fi to fill out the form.”

One of the last points brought up was regarding the status of “increase [in] funding towards the Cedar Magnolia community to make it more comparable to that of the other first year dorms that are available for the same price.”

During the meeting, representatives from USG debated on various ways to make the two residential communities more equitable. First-Year Representative Adaezeogo Ezeogo-Enwo suggested differentiating the prices, so that students “pay less for Cedar-Magnolia and more for dorms like Juniper.”

“Regarding quality of dorms, a taskforce has been studying upgrades required for first year housing, with an emphasis on restrooms and community spaces as a result of a survey given to RAs and students about the biggest needs,” noted the Office of the Provost. “Housing is currently designing solutions for Tyler and Norton as a pilot project.”

“Students and staff requested more private bathrooms and nicer dedicated activity spaces for study and recreation. The plan is to renovate the first floor of Tyler and Norton and all residential bathrooms and floor lounges for fall 2025. We have many plans and drawings and are determining the construction schedule. This would then continue to all the four-story, first-year buildings over the next five to seven years. The next phase will explore the installation of air-conditioning in some first-year halls, based on cost and occupancy considerations,” the university said.

To fund everything, USG recommends removing tuition funds for 24/7 access to “certain buildings on the quad,” to which the Office of the Provost responded, “there are no real cost savings associated with removing accessibility.”

The next step is for USG to respond and come up with a mutually agreeable solution.

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