Bill to Pay RUSA E-Board Members Suspended Indefinitely
By: Brooke Sassman
A bill that was proposed to pay Executive Board members and Committee Chairs of the Rutgers University Student Assembly was tabled indefinitely after 80 minutes of discussion Thursday, suspending the matter until revisions are made by the writer.
Parliamentarian, Sam Clark stood before RUSA’s general body to present a bill that would secure $31,808 in stipends for the E-board and Committee Chairs through the 2015-2016 school year. RUSA is the student government that represents the undergraduate body of Rutgers, New Brunswick. Clark guaranteed that RUSA Bill S15 18 would in no way affect any other student organizations. Implementation of the bill would be dependent upon the ability to secure grant money from national affiliates or other outside sources before the end of summer 2015.
Clark believes that by compensating students, they’ll have more time to focus on work within the organization, rather than having to pursue a second job to make ends meet. RUSA positions occupy anywhere from eight to 16 hours per week of those serving on the E-Board. A tiered pay system structured around hierarchical positions within RUSA would be processed through university payroll. Across the country, Ohio State University, Nebraska University, Maryland University, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, IC Los Angeles, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, Arizona State University Tempe, ASU Phoenix and ASU Flagstaff have all adopted similar plans to pay students. Those opposed to the bill think that it would entice students solely motivated by the money to run. Concern was also expressed in regard to the many other student organizations that do not pay their leaders. More than 6 motions to extend discussion on the topic were approved.
After eighty minutes of Q&A with Clark, a motion was proposed and passed to table the bill indefinitely. In the event that Clark revises the bill, it must comply with the only amendment passed, that requires funding of stipends to come from a source outside of RUSA’s regular funding model.
Clark, who bartends three out of seven nights a week, says that paying E-Board members and Committee Chairs would increase accessibility and student representation. They’d have more time to meet with faculty and discuss student issues.
“I don’t think that students should be limited or not limited based on their financial situation to hold a leadership position,” he said.
The funds used to pay students would be acquired through grants or outside sources, such as alumni. The general body was reassured that if anything, money could be taken out of RUSA’s internal budget.
The bill must be passed first before any type of outreach can begin. That aside, no other approvals are necessary to move forward.
Jake Neiman, vice president of RUSA, said he believes that compensating student government officials will enable them to spend more time on important initiatives.
“It’ll mean that they can do more with transportation, do more with dining, they can work on planning long-term campaigns, lower tuition or decrease the cost of textbooks” he said. “It’ll allow RUSA to be the focus of their lives, except for school.”
At least 75% of the schools within the Big Ten have implemented this procedure. Part of Clark’s inspiration for proposing the bill sprung from this alone. Rutgers’ introduction to the Big Ten means that on many levels, the bar is raised, not only in terms of athletics.
“It’s a long-term investment in a quality, sustainable student government. Many schools have done this. It’s very popular and it’s shown results. When we go and meet with other big ten schools, their student governments take on a lot more” Neiman said.
Ohio State University only pays the student government president, in the form of a full ride from an endowment fund. Similarly to what was proposed by Clark, University of Minnesota functions on a system of tiered stipends.
Although they’d be able to take more on, this would also create additional responsibilities for Student Life staff.
The bill states that a Student Life staff member unaffiliated with RUSA “will be responsible for ensuring the validity of the documents verifying payment to the E-Board and E-Board+”. E-Board+ includes Committee Chairs.
With Clark’s designed pay structure, the President will receive $2,688, the Vice President will receive $1,680, the Treasurer will receive $1,680, the Secretary will receive $1,400, the Parliamentarian will receive $1,400, and the Committee Chairs will receive $1,008 per semester. The Ad-hoc Committees and Task Force Leader’s pay would be decided at a later time.
Overall, the operation would require $31,808 a year to match what Clark has proposed.
A School of Communication and Information Sophomore who would prefer to remain anonymous because of an employment conflict believes that the money can be used to benefit the organization in other ways.
“I think I would like to see RUSA invest more time and energy and rather than spending almost $32,000 on paying themselves a year, invest that money, into immersing themselves more into the student body that they advocate for” she said.
Pending its admission to the agenda, the bill could be voted on again after Clark has made revisions. Until then, the bill remains inconclusive.