The Chronicle’s View: Student leaders deserve a pay raise

It’s hard enough being a full time student and trying to make ends meet. Add onto that a 15 to 20 hour work week-even upward of 40 hours per week for some students-and life becomes overwhelming and, at times, unbearable.

Now consider the same aforementioned scenario-only a student earns $1.88 per hour, with a bonus option of earning a tuition credit up to $600 per semester. Welcome to the life of an Associated Students of the University of Utah Executive Cabinet member.

Whether or not you concur with the way ASUU spends your money or even understand what the purpose of ASUU is, there is little room for debate that student leaders are underpaid. ASUU President Adrian Johnson has assured next year’s ASUU officials that they will, indeed, receive a pay raise. This is a good thing. The pay raises create equal opportunity for all U students, regardless of socioeconomic status. Each student should have a fair shot at serving on the Executive Cabinet or any other position within ASUU. But most students can’t afford to commit the time required of them and attend classes at the same time. There must be some level of compensation and the current level is hardly enough.

At the same time, elected and appointed student representatives should be held accountable for their work at ASUU. After all, student fees help pay for their small salaries and tuition waivers. Fortunately, Executive Cabinet members are not automatically awarded the full $600 stipend-they must first prove, throughout the course of each semester, that they have put in the time and effort necessary to earn the additional monetary reward. Senate and Assembly members are paid according to their attendance records at general and committee meetings. Students who don’t perform will not be compensated for what they have not earned.

ASUU President-elect Alex Lowe and Vice President-elect Bobby Harrington said they will probably require that Executive Cabinet members work a minimum of 20 hours per week. They plan to continue to carefully review the performance of each member to determine how much of the additional $600 he or she should receive.

ASUU student leaders deserve to be justly compensated for the work they perform. But they must also realize that their involvement in ASUU is a privilege, not a right. The message of accountability to fellow students should be at the forefront of their minds as they prepare to serve in different capacities. If it isn’t, history has shown that there are plenty of students who are ready and willing to take their place.