Pay for USG Leaders Debated

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The leading members of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) at IUPUI unveiled a preview of this semester’s proposed budget before a gathering of student senator-elects. The money allocated for paying the USG leadership proved to be controversial.

“If I’m doing the math right, over half of this is stipends,” Jared Burke, USG senator-elect, said of the budget. “Paying for a resume padder doesn’t really seem like my thing.”

Burke represents the Anime Club at IUPUI, one of many student organizations represented at the USG’s senate. The senator-elects gathered at the Kelley School of Business in room BS2000 from noon to 2 p.m. to learn more about their responsibilities within the organization. These responsibilities include confirming presidential appointees and voting on the budget for the organization.

Members of the Anime Club attending USG, as Jared Burke (right) raises an objection to the stipends received by student leaders.

The money that the senators vote to allocate comes from the general fee paid for by all students enrolled in IUPUI. As Scott McCain, the president of the senate, confirmed to Burke, half of this year’s budget is planned to go towards paying the leading members of the organization.

Joshua Bell, the appointee for the director of initiatives, said that he understood Burke’s point of view.

“I don’t think it was out of line, the objections, because we’ve had conversations in years past ‘if you are passionate about these positions, wouldn’t you be willing to do it with or without any pay?’,” Bell said.

Bell said that he especially understood this point because of the volunteer work that he did with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. However, Bell believed that compensating student officials helped to provide greater accountability because of the contracts that came with the positions.

“I think it is adequate because it is proven through universities and organization systems like this that incentivizing positions helps with holding accountability, especially when you can attach that to a contract,” Bell said.

The budget previewed at the meeting would provide the USG president, the USG vice president, the executive secretary, the treasurer and the president of the senate $4,000 each in annual pay. The budget would also allocate $2,500 for the director of initiatives and the director of communications has yet to have a stipend assigned to them.

Treasurer-designate Kole Loehmer discusses the meeting with Joshua Bell, the appointee for director of initiatives.

Bell explained that the compensation was calculated through estimates of the number of hours provided by the students and minimal compensation for the work performed.

“They have the equation through the Division of Student Affairs to apply only the student wages that would be paid for top-tier student involvement,” Bell said.

According to a survey from the American Student Government Association (ASGA), more than 77 percent of colleges nationwide provide compensation for leaders in student government. For colleges with an enrollment size of over 30,000, the ASGA reports that 87 percent of student leaders receive pay. IUPUI had a reported enrollment of 29,790 during the fall 2017 semester.

In addition to the stipends, the proposed budget included increased funding for activities and initiatives as previously reported. The budget will not be confirmed until Sept. 21, after the USG senator-elects are to sign the requisite paperwork to confirm their positions and ratify the organization’s constitution for this semester.

Gina Pleshkan, the president of the student body, pledges more transparency.

Kole Loehmer, USG treasurer-designate, pledged that students will know where every penny of the budget is going.

“As the treasurer, I want to focus on making sure everybody gets the funding that they want at the time they need it, along with having the transparency of where the funding is going,” Loehmer said.  

Gina Pleshkan, the USG president, said, “[We’re] trying to also create more transparency between USG and the student body as a whole.”

Gina Pleshkan, with Yasmine Kofahi as her running mate, was directly elected by the IUPUI student body with 622 votes, or 56.54 percent of the 1100 votes cast in the spring 2018 election.

These results were only available to the presidential tickets, the officers, and the members of the student senate who requested them, but not the student body as a whole until the Campus Citizen requested their release.

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