The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

Demoralizing effects of pay raises

By RuthAnne Frost

Last January, Bernie Machen described budget cuts at the U as “demoralizing.”

On July 17, a friend and I went down to the Bioscience Undergraduate Research Program office to pick up applications for Fall Semester mini-grants. These grants are available to undergraduate biology majors who wish to work on a research project in conjunction with a professor. However, upon our arrival, we were told to come back in a week. BioURP did not yet know if there would be money left in the budget to fund any mini grants.

Our first reaction was surprise. We’d both worked in a lab Spring Semester for independent study credit, and had been told that, pending the approval of our applications, we could be paid for our work in the fall. We hadn’t considered the possibility of budget cuts eliminating the program.

Then came anger. Having been told that we had excellent chances of receiving grants for work in the fall, we’d both been planning on resuming our jobs at the lab. Now, we’ve had to find new sources of income in the event that we go back to the BioURP offices and are told, “Maybe next year.”

So as we left the biology buildings feeling sideswiped, bitter and a little desperate, what did we see on the front page of the July 17 edition of The Chronicle? “Student Leader Compensation Increases After Some Debate.”

Demoralizing.

I read the article, feeling a little shocked. I’d had no idea that student leaders received compensation at all. I guess I’d always figured that tuition reimbursement and the experience of being in student leadership was enough.

Furthermore, the idea that they would vote themselves pay raises, and then put those raises into effect by the end of Summer Semester seemed a little gauche. At least when congressional pay goes up, it doesn’t kick in until the next session.

One of the arguments for the increase is that participating in ASUU takes up a lot of time, and students who need to support themselves are unable to get involved. Therefore, our student government is missing out on many unique and talented people.

However, students who become involved in ASUU usually start out by working as a member of a board. While the salaries for most positions in ASUU went up, the salary of a board member was one of the few to decrease. Board members who were paid $125 a semester will now be paid only $75.

This is hardly a move conducive to encouraging new students to become involved in ASUU. Furthermore, with the highest salary being $900 a month for the president and vice president, it seems unlikely that students who need to work are going to be able to give up their day jobs to participate in ASUU.

For the sake of fairness I decided to find out how much student leaders at other universities get compensated. I found a report compiled in October of 2001 by a joint council from Kansas State University. The report listed the compensation for student body presidents of 14 public universities.

The methods of compensation ranged from salaries, stipends, tuition reimbursement and free room and board.

Oregon State, for example, gave their student body president a salary of $12,000 for the 2001-2002 school year. However, Texas A&M University gave their student body president nothing: no tuition reimbursement, no salary-merely the honor and experience of being the student body president of a nationally recognized university.

Somehow, they’ve managed to get along just fine.

So, what does a member of student government deserve to be paid? Obviously judging from the salary ranges identified in KSU’s report, there are a lot of different opinions on this topic. But, in the face of hard times, we should all pull together and hope for the future-not give ourselves raises.

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