Student Wage Increase Updates

Robin Sluzas


The most recent Oakton Board of Trustees meeting was held on Feb. 19  at the Skokie campus. While the Board meetings are often held at Des Plaines campus, this meeting was held at Skokie to ensure that the Skokie campus’ voices be heard by the Board.  

It was at this meeting that SGA Senator Josh Rodriguez continued his representative effort to further the Student Employee Wage Initiative on behalf of the Student Government Association and all student employees.  

The purpose of the wage increase initiative is to raise hourly wages for student employees from the current rates ranging from $8.25 to $8.90 per hour, (that adhere to the current Illinois State minimum wage) to the minimum hourly rate of $11.00 per hour the current minimum wage for employees passed in July of 2018 by Cook County.  Rodriguez is working with the Oakton Board and Administration to increase wages for all student employees.

During the February board meeting, Rodriguez was given three minutes to speak once again to the board about the wage increase initiative.  In that three-minute time frame, he began by reminding the board of the importance of the SGA proposal by saying that, “A few months ago an issue was brought up to the Student Government that Oakton student employees had not had a wage adjustment in eight years. This was especially concerning when the recent surrounding municipalities had significantly raised their minimum wages past ours.”

He went on to state that in the months since the first presentation, “We have met with members of the administration, including President Smith herself, to discuss our concerns within the college, received letters of support from the unions representing our educators, and our many requests for information regarding student employment statistics was graciously met by Oakton’s staff. It quickly became clear that Oakton is very committed to being equitable in all student outcomes, a statement that is part of our core vision and values.”

In order to put together the wage increase proposal on behalf of student employees, Rodriguez expressed that he had  “ . . . spent hours in the library basement going through the thick red books that contain the minutes and all relevant information from previous board meetings and finally truly grasped the amount of work that the board and administration have historically put in to make sure our college runs like a finely tuned machine.

Many meetings have hundreds of pages of information chronicled within them, including when the Board has historically approved increases in the student wage, and I quickly became lost within this plethora of numbers. It was then that I realized that I needed to show the board the outcome of all the time and work they put in.”

Senator Rodriguez then asked the approximately 7-8 student employees from the Skokie campus seated in the front row to stand as living evidence of the Board’s good work at not just Des Plaines but both campuses.  As the students were standing, Rodriguez said that the work the Board put in over the years “. . . demonstrated that Oakton had succeeded in another one of its goals, molding their students into ethical global citizens who seek to shape the world around them.”

As further evidence of the value of Oakton students he said that students “. . . are active members of student life on campus, and part of many clubs and organizations, and our jobs here are not simple ones and require a wealth of knowledge and abilities. We can re-image operating systems onto dozens of computers in a single shift, create entire sets that we dream up and design for our performing arts center, use titration to find the molarity of sulfuric acid down to the thousandth of a decimal place for our chemistry students to use during their labs. We file and collate hundreds of documents within student life and help other students to make sure they are on the correct path to completion in the enrollment center. We help to run and maintain 3D printers for our engineering students and keep the copy center operational. Furthermore, our responsibilities during our work hours have become a part of our formal education in preparing us for what comes after we graduate.”

By increasing the student wage, it is possible to offer a competitive wage to students who currently work at jobs off campus.  The wage increase could also raise the number of students spending time on campus, thus increasing the possibility that more classes will be taken.  

This increase in class enrollment translates to more income for the college which benefits our college by offering employment to not only students but to all faculty, staff and administrators as well.  The most important effect of an increased number of students is that after graduation the quality education received at Oakton increases their success when attending the university of their choice.

Finally, our Oakton education will result in Oakton graduates becoming productive and influential members of our global society who are compensated financially commensurate with a college graduate’s status.

Rodriguez closed his three-minutes by stating “Hopefully soon you will find yourself with the decision to adjust the wages of Oakton student employees and opt in to the minimums set forth by Cook County. This will either come in the form of a resolution itself or be automatically rolled into the budgeting process for next year. When this happens, I humbly ask that the board recall upon the faces of the student employees before them today and support this adjustment so that Oakton Community College can continue to be the shining example of greatness that all community colleges within Illinois can look to model themselves after.”

The general election for various statewide positions including 3 open Oakton Trustee seats will be held on April 2, 2019.  For more updates re: 2/19/19 board meeting and links please visit our website at

Other Oakton Board of Trustees Meeting – February 19, 2019 – updates include:

  • The introduction of new academic certificate programs. The Board approved the new unit instruction of a Cancer Registry Management Certificate.  Oakton is the first and only community college in Illinois to begin offering the program.
  • Mr. Sebastian Contreras (Des Plaines) and Ms. Lisa Harris (Skokie) from the Office of Advising, Transitions, and Student Success (OATSS) presented the importance of setting an educational plan for students that includes meeting with an academic advisor.  Highlights include a future plan for students to be able to meet with an academic advisor online. Currently, student appointments are held in person or at times, via phone. Mr. Contreras and Ms. Harris also reported to the board that more academic advisors have been hired to lower the student to advisor ratio that decreases advising appointment wait time and increases the ability of advisors to spend more time with students.
  • The next Board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19 at the Des Plaines campus in Room 1506, and is open to the public.

Board of Trustee candidate bios & online voter registration links:

  • The general election for various state-wide positions will be held on April 2, 2019 (including the runoff for Mayor of the City of Chicago).  Currently, there are three open board member seats (six-year terms each) at Oakton. These open positions are also part of the general election on such day. Any person 18 years or older who is registered to vote will be able to cast a ballot for the Board of Trustees.  Board candidate bio link:
  • Register to vote: