At the final Senate meeting of the year on April 23, ASUP passed the Fall semester 2018 budget that includes pay cuts for executive board and Speaker of the Senate positions’ stipends. They also allocated an additional $12,500 to clubs, money that surfaced when the Executive Board discovered the original budget inadvertently understated available funds.
The changes include a $250 cut to the executive board stipends, changing them from $3500 a semester to $3250 a semester, totalling $6500 per person annually. The stipend for speaker of Senate took a much larger cut of $1875, going from $3500 a semester to $1625 a semester, totalling $3250 annually. Though there was an extra $12500 found in the budget after the original had been put together, none of this went to changing the proposed stipends. The money was instead put into the Senate discretionary fund and was allocated to clubs.
According to Finance Director Hannah Baade, the executive board stipends were changed in response to student reactions to their from the spring 2018 budget, which changed their stipend from $3000 to $3500 per semester.
“We got a lot of responses to the raise in wages, so we’re trying to really consider what other students think they’re student government is doing,” Baade said. “I consider what people say as a part of the budget. It’s not about wanting to make more money, it’s about what students think about their student government.”
The Speaker of the Senate stipend was reduced in accordance with proposed changes made in ASUP Bylaws. This more clearly defined the role of Speaker of Senate, including duties such as holding special elections in the cases of presidential and vice presidential vacancies and referring senators to certain members of faculty and administration to address their concerns. They also are to act as a member of Senate during executive board meetings. These proposed changes were also passed at the final Senate meeting.
“The proposal is about looking at the duties of each of the executive board positions and trying to determine what the worth of each one is,” Baade said. “We found that there is kind of a discrepancy with Speaker of Senate. The proposal is mainly to equalize pay and work.”
However, current Speaker of Senate Alex Peterson and Vice President John Akers, former speaker of the Senate, oppose the decrease in Speaker stipend and believe the new bylaws discount the importance of the position.
“I would say that it’s a valuable position,” Peterson said. “It’s critical to the high function of the Senate, and critical to the fair representation of the entire student body in this government.”
Akers believes that minimizing duties of the Speaker of Senate in the changed bylaws is problematic.
“I believe there is plenty more for ASUP to do, and I think if anything we should be adding responsibilities even if it’s not adding stipends,” Akers said. “I don’t think we want to get in the habit of minimizing roles.”