Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Students’ money used to pay SA members: Student Association fees to pay $15, 363 for senators and executive council member stipends

By Drew Wemple

For the first time since the Student Association was founded at SUNY Plattsburgh, the SA will now be administering stipends to its senators and executive council officers. With the introduction of Student Bill 16 Sept. 17 at the SA senate meeting came the new SA compensation model.

The bill will compensate two groups of SA positions, the senators and executive council officers. The nine executive council officers will be paid $826 for the entire semester, and the 16 senate members will be paid $495.60 for their full semester. This is a reflection of the differing roles these positions fill.

“Executive officers have more working hours,” said Erick Yusufu, the SA’s senator for finance. “Everything runs through the executive council members.”

The stipend money is coming from the SA budget. Each SA budget is calculated for an entire academic year, both fall and spring semesters, and it comes from the SA fee students pay at the beginning of each semester. The SA fee for this semester was reduced due to COVID-19 protocols limiting the amount of opportunity for student involvement with the SA.

“The pandemic did not affect our decision to compensate our officers,” said SA President Rudaba Ahmed. “We were going to go forward with this regardless.”

The model is designed to provide financial relief to SA senators and council officers who have chosen to work for the SA instead of other jobs or opportunities.

“It’s important to pay young professionals for their time,” Ahmed said. “Oftentimes, they do have to choose between being able to be involved in Student Association versus taking on other jobs that may help pay for tuition or other college expenses.”

Lack of involvement in the SA was the driving force behind this decision.

“We convinced our senators on the importance of the deal,” Yusufu said. “We wanted to show that we value our leaders.”

The executive council consists of coordinators, such as president, vice president, treasurer and secretary, who act as chairpersons for different SA boards. The boards are diversity and affairs, finance, public relations, coordinator of activities, arts, clubs and organizations and academic affairs. The senators are members of these boards but act as the vice-chairperson.  Senators hold three office hours a week, and executive council officers hold five hours.

“We are compensating the senate and executive council for their office hours only,” Ahmed said. “We cannot realistically pay ourselves for all the little things that we do.”

The budget will fluctuate from time to time, but Ahmed is adamant the stipends will not go anywhere.

“It will be up to our treasurers to make budget cuts where necessary,” Ahmed said. “But our stipends are here to stay.”


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