CSUN in conflict over compensation
A constitutional amendment that would have significantly cut pay for CSUN officials was struck down last Monday in a controversial vote that has many within student government up in arms.
The legislation, which was defeated 13-8 on Jan. 3, would have limited the total CSUN payroll to only 10 percent of the annual budget, which is about $1,000,000.
The amendment would change existing language in the CSUN Constitution, which states: “Total compensation, paid to officers and officials, shall not exceed 22.5 percent of the total annual CSUN budget.”
The proposed pay would not go into effect until the next fiscal year which starts on July 1.
The salary for student body president would change to $8,000 from $13,500, vice president to $7,000 from $12,000, directors to $5,000 from $9,000, associate directors to $2,000 from $3,600, assistant directors to $1,000 from $1,800. Senators and members of the judicial council would no longer receive any compensation.
The proposal was drafted by CSUN President Mark Ciavola in conjunction with Senator Alex Murdock of the Hotel College.
Ciavola said that the proposal was a group effort which included a full discussion in the Constitution and Bylaws Committee a full week before they passed the final version that was sent to the Senate Monday for a vote.
“The idea was to lower the percentage of the budget for official pay to free up more money for students,” Murdock said.
The money saved from cutting salaries, about $225,000, would then be used for things like student scholarships, funding student organizations and CSUN events.
Some members of the senate believed the savings were worth it, and were willing to forgo receiving the salary. Some in CSUN have complained that some senators are receiving money despite not fulfilling responsibilities they are obligated to do.
These obligations include attendance at CSUN meetings, classroom speaking and spending two hours a week at the CSUN marketing table. Senators do not have as many responsibilities as other members in CSUN, like the directors and executive board.
Fine Arts Senator Lynda Pham believes that the money should go directly to the students.
“CSUN is supposed to support students and clubs. It isn’t fair to represent students and take their money, especially when some aren’t doing their job,” Pham said.
Pham believes that the senators do not have enough responsibilities to receive part of student’s tuition.
“It’s a privilege to be a senator and I would be happy to do so without pay,” she said.
The heated debate over the addition of the amendment to the constitution was ended by a call to question proposed by Sciences Senator Vladislav Zhitny. Zhitny was one of the 13 senators who voted against the amendment.
Zhitny said he did not feel that the amendment was properly explained and that the opposition was being heavily attacked.
“There was no debate going on, thats why I called it to question,” Zhitny said. “I felt there was no point. It was time consuming discussing the options being presented to us. We had other things in the agenda to discuss, and this was just taking up too much time without any results.”
Engineering Senator Betzabe Sanchez said she agrees that senators get paid too much for what they actually do, but still voted no because she thought the argument was not clear enough.
“I agree with us not getting paid but they should have presented more options. Maybe a pay reduction instead of just abolishing it,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez also agrees with the complaints of some senators not doing the few obligations required of them, but said not paying them would not solve the problem.
“They think that if they abolish the pay that senators won’t feel obligated to do their jobs. Whether we get paid or not, senators should be doing their jobs,” said Sanchez.
“Any senator that isn’t clear on the amendment isn’t doing their job,” Ciavola said.
He explained that the proposal has been on the agenda for weeks and that it was available for all senators to look at.
“We went to the senate to get their input, and took it into consideration,” Ciavola said. “Nobody in the entire senate has actually submitted a formal proposal.”
A petition has circulated among undergraduate students in response to the amendment being voted down. The petition calls for zero pay, across the board. This means that no member in CSUN would receive any pay.
According to Article XI of the constitution, a petition needs 10 percent of verified undergraduate student signatures which can then be put directly on the ballot without approval of the senate for a vote by the student body.
After all signatures are collected, the presentation of an initiative petition must be presented no more than 30 days before the general election, which is the second Wednesday and Thursday of April.
“I’m hoping the senate can still resolve the issue so we can come out with a solution that is favorable for everyone,” Murdock said.