February 6, 2018
In November, the Student Government Association passed SB07: SGA Recognition Bill. The bill allows for members of the Executive Council to receive a monthly stipend for their work during the fall and spring semesters. The stipends are between $300 and $400 depending on the position.
Although the bill has passed through SGA and UCCS administration, the organization awaits the approval of Brad Bayer, executive director of Student Clubs, Organizations and Leadership.
The wait is due to issues with concrete language for the recognition of three members outside of the Executive Council, according to Sabrina Weinholtz, director of Student Clubs, Organizations and Leadership. Members of SGA have not been paid yet.
The stipends will go to members of the Executive Council, including the president, vice president, director of finance, chief justice, associate chief justice, speaker of the senate, election commissioner, and the speaker pro tempore. Before the recognition bill, SGA members were not paid for their work.
The first year under the bill will be funded by leftover money from the 2016-17 school year. After that, the money will come out of the Student Activity Fee.
Jon Bogh, SGA adviser, said that the stipend will help open SGA service to all students.
“It really boiled down to a question of access. Are we saying that you need to have a higher socioeconomic status to be a member of student government? And is that truly representative of our student body?” he said.
Joey Vijayam, student body president, explained that most SGA members work more than their required seven hours a week. According to Vijayam, he works 30 to 50 hours a week as president.
“It lays out the bare bones guidelines of what you have to do as president. But, what I quickly learned is that the role is so much more than seven hours a week and attending your meetings,” said Vijayam.
The bill comes after the original SGA stipend bill was ended in spring 2016. According to Bogh, certain SGA members had been receiving a monthly stipend since 2007.
That summer, Chancellor-emerita Pam Shockley-Zalabak approved an increase in student activity fees. In her approval, she wrote that some of the money needed to go to a recognition program for SGA, writing that the plan had to“allow student government members to receive a small stipend for service.”
CU Denver, CU Boulder and CU Anschutz either pay their SGA members or have a recognition program in place.
“They (SGA) saw it as falling in line with what the other CU schools are doing and also falling back in line with the intent of what the last language of the student fee was for,” explained Bogh.
The SGA member recognition awards are given to those not on the Executive Council based on merit. The remaining SGA members qualify to receive one of three $250 SGA member recognition awards at the end of each semester.
According to Bogh, some students have had concerns about the bill.
“There were three students that came to the next senate meeting to voice their concerns. There was an email to the chancellor from a student expressing concerns as well,” he said.
The administration reviewed the bill to address the students’ concerns.
“Because laws and policies change throughout the years, we decided that it would be a great idea to review it and make sure that it still falls in line. We did an exhaustive review and it still fits within the parameters of all of the policies we have right now,” said Bogh.
Vijayam understands why some people would have concerns about the bill, but believes that they won’t be as concerned once they understand their intentions.
“It’s a common misconception that we are paid or that we are using funds to pay ourselves. This is not a job. If it was, I would be capped on how many hours I can work, and there are various processes that student employment requires,” said Vijayam.
“We wanted to create a process where we could put in as many hours as we wanted into student government and not be restrained by it.”
Students like Lillian Horn, a freshman theater major, and Skylar Golliher, a freshman business management major, believe that the stipend is justified.
“I think that it is a good idea as long as they are still funding things that need to be funded here at the school. But they are still working really hard to do what needs to be done,” said Golliher.
Horn believes that more can be done.
“I guess it would matter how much time they devote to SGA and their activities, because obviously it takes a lot of planning and organization. I would want to do something like hourly pay, like an actual job,” she said.
The original stipend bill paid the executive council members about $100 more than the new bill does. SGA chose to reduce the amount to create the recognition award for the remaining SGA members, according to Vijayam.