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ISSUE 117 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/30/2004

We should get paid more

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, April 30, 2004

Senate made a number of mistakes last week in its decision to raise executive stipends from $900 to $2,000 per year.

A senate committee of seniors brought the proposal to Senate only one week before the vote. No information was given as to where the money for such an increase would be found. Preliminary numbers that outlined the cuts each item on the budget would take were introduced at the Tuesday executive meeting before the Thursday vote. These numbers, which would affect the dollar amounts received by SOC, SAC and the like, were never presented to Senate, even though they were ready. The only thing that senators were told was that there was enough money in the overall budget to cover the stipend increase.

These numbers should have been brought to Senate, senators should have asked about them and the entire discussion of raising stipends should have occurred earlier. Because the issue was introduced late, there was far from enough time for senators to learn more about the issue, and there was certainly not enough time for senators to contact, inform and gain feedback from the general student population. Had the idea for raising executive stipends been brought to the Senate floor earlier in the semester, the vote may have been different.

Stipends of campus leaders shouldnt be raised when SGA is already facing a 10 percent cut. Even if extra money is floating around in the SGA budget, it should be used to soften the 10 percent cut, not to raise executive stipends, while programs all around them are dropping like flies.

Only 21 of the 33 voting members of Senate voted on the proposal, with one abstaining. Most noticeably absent were the Pause co-coordinators, who are Senate executives whose budget is a line item. All members of Senate should have been present and all who could should have voted.

Senate executives should be paid more than one fifth of the minimum wage. But to take it from the abstract to something that we as Manitou Messenger executive editors know, consider our news editors. To put together their section, each of the three editors spend 25 hours per week (about the same as a Senate executive). They make, at the most, $600 per year ($1,400 less than Senate executives will make). That translates to $1.26 an hour, or one fourth of the state minimum wage. Would we like to pay them more? Absolutely. But we looked at our budget and decided that we couldnt afford to do that.

The Senate proposal committee looked at their overall budget and said that they could afford the increase, but they failed to look into how this increase would affect each group that receives funding. More importantly, they did not share any concrete or clear findings to this end with the senators before the vote. It is only now, after their beloved proposal has passed, that they have started to reallocate budgets.

Instead of discussing a name change, Student Government needs to work harder on living up to the name it has now. This will only happen when its members communicate well internally and when they begin to consult those they are responsible for governing  the students.

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