Weeks after contentious debate, student government pay issue could end quietly
The battle over whether CSUN members should receive compensation may end quietly on Monday with an amendment that sponsors say has a good chance of passing.
In the last Constitution and Bylaws Committee meeting held Feb. 10, a revision to the controversial amendment was passed. This amendment will now be voted on by the senate.
The revised amendment would still include the original salary reductions.
“I think it has a good chance to pass the senate,” said Alex Murdock, hotel college senator.
Murdock said that a majority of senators are now in favor of the revised amendment.
The revised amendment comes as a partial compromise after the original legislation was met with strong opposition. The first bill proposed to eliminate pay entirely for the CSUN Judicial Council and senators. The new amendment will set senator’s stipends at $1,000 annually and the judicial council at $500 annually.
This new suggested salary would be about half of their current pay.
If approved on Monday, the senate would make the appropriate changes to the constitution and the new salaries would go into effect for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
Elias Benjelloun, college of sciences senator, voted no the first time the amendment was up for vote.
“They originally presented the issue of zero pay for senators as punishment for those that weren’t doing their jobs,” Benjelloun said on his reason for voting the amendment down. “Now that the conversation is about fiscal responsibility, then I support it.”
As long as nothing changes on the revised amendment from what was presented at the committee to the vote on Monday, Benjelloun said it will have his full support.
Every undergraduate student at UNLV pays $1.97 per credit, around $30 a year, to CSUN. About 25 percent of that fee goes to CSUN officials. The current payroll for CSUN’s staff sits at about $250,000 per year, a figure that has long rankled the fiscally conservative members in student government. The impetus to cut the student government payroll was to be able to provide more monetary support for student scholarships, organizations and CSUN events.
Lesley Chan, business college senator, said the salary decrease for the judicial branch was an easy decision.
“Justices are not only rewarded in experience and connections, but with significant resume padding for law school,” said Chan. “Their only responsibility is to preside over cases, which average about two a year.”
When it came to decreasing the pay for senators, Chan said she had some qualms about which way she was going to vote. Chan believes that the impeachment process for a senator is a lengthy one, saying that some senators are getting paid a salary for functions that most of them do not fulfill.
Proponents of cutting CSUN pay had accused some senators of failing to do their required duties, like classroom speaking and office hours. Chan said that although there are some senators who are not completing their responsibilities, there are still some senators that are.
“This [salary decrease] was based on the assumption that an adequate number of quality people would come to these unpaid positions. This is a highly necessary position, but I was willing to experiment,” said Chan.
For undergraduate student body president, the amendment would decrease the stipend from $13,500 to $8,000, vice president stipend would decrease to $7,000 from $12,000, directors to $5,000 from $9,000, associate directors to $2,000 from $3,600 and assistant directors to $1,000 from $1,800.
Engineering senator Betzabe Sanchez, voted down the first version of the revised amendment.
“I think it’s a great middle point for both sides,” Sanchez said. “It’s fair because they still get some compensation for the work they do, but it also frees up more money to support the students.”
If the amendment does not receive a two-thirds majority vote on Monday, then proponents of cutting pay would have to resort to gathering student signatures for a petition to put the amendment on this semester’s executive board elections ballot. The petition calls for zero pay for CSUN members across the board.
The petition needs the signatures of 10 percent of verified undergraduate students, which can then be put directly on the ballot without approval of the senate, for a vote by the student body.