SGA to take another look at officer pay

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Thursday’s Student Governing Association meeting began with Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students, addressing the senators on their importance to the student body at Kansas State.

Bosco said the location of a university’s student government is symbolic of its relative importance to the university. SGA’s offices in the K-State Student Union, Bosco said, show it is an important aspect of student life and its importance to university administration.

“That is our brand—our student are willing to roll up their sleeves and help develop answers to really complex problems,” Bosco said.

Bosco said SGA helped bring about several benefits for students.

“A childcare center that wouldn’t be there without the commitment in this room, a commitment to residence life, our commitment to the Student Union and student health, to teacher evaluations, to making sure that our commitment to raising scholarship dollars and need-based aid all came out of initiatives in this room, people who sat in these chairs,” Bosco said.

Senators then transition into a discussion about SGA officer compensation. The Collegian previously reported that over $57,000 of student privilege fee dollars will be spent this school year in scholarships and compensation for 13 student government leaders.

As reported in the story, even some SGA members were unaware of the compensation for their leaders. Because of this, Jonathan Peuchen, junior in mechanical engineering and SGA privilege fee committee chair, said the committee talked about ways to make the compensation more transparent.

Peuchen said the changes would make funding for SGA officer compensation have “its own privilege fee agreement, its line-item within the privilege fee.” Currently, SGA officer compensation is not specifically listed under the privilege fee expenses on the SGA website.

The Joint Committee on Officer Compensation, which convenes every three years, made recommended changes to several student officer compensation amounts in their report.

A bill to disapprove the recommendations, which would require the committee to redo their recommendations, was introduced at last week’s SGA meeting.

One of the reasons to disapprove the recommendations, according to several members of SGA, was to have the committee members conduct further research. The committee had researched the compensation for student leaders at other Big 12 Conference schools, to which they compared the K-State student leader compensation.

“Comparing to Big 12 student governments is not always an accurate picture for how the joint government system here at our school (operates),” Peuchen said.

He said the K-State student government model is stronger than at other schools. Additionally, Peuchen said, the student governments at some schools function more like the Union Program Council does at K-State where their student governments only plan events and do not have any control over the uses of student fees.

Wyatt Pracht, senior in agricultural economics and a student senator, asked Peuchen to name which Big 12 schools operate like UPC.

“I am not sure,” Peuchen replied.

Peuchen is one of the authors of the disapproval bill, which stated, “SGA Officers are encouraged to go above and beyond their enumerated responsibilities within their position.”

Trent McGee, graduate student in counseling and student development and a student senator, asked Peuchen, “Who is encouraging (SGA officers to go above and beyond), and do they have right to say no to that encouragement?”

“The encouragement to go above and beyond their duties, sometimes that comes from within and their desire to do more with their role,” Peuchen said. “It also could come from leaders within SGA and it also could come from factors outside SGA.”

Under the recommendations, compensation for most committee chairs would be decreased or cut entirely. For the privilege fee committee chair, which is Peuchen’s position, the compensation would be cut from 50 percent to 35 percent of tuition.

Peuchen defended keeping compensation for committee chairs.

“I do not believe that the compensation is the driving factor for their job,” Peuchen said. “Because it’s pretty easy to get burned out that way.”

Andy Hurtig, strategic initiatives adviser for the SGA executive branch and senior in accounting, was a member of the committee and was last school year’s student body president.

“I’m fine with, as a member of the committee, going back and doing the due diligence, going back and looking at it,” Hurtig said.

However, Hurtig said he wasn’t sure if the committee would come to a different conclusion.

“My first initial reaction when I saw the bill of disapproval was, ‘We all wanted more,’ because this is our one chance to get more money and get more money and get rewarded for the due diligence that you all do, which is so admirable,” Hurtig said.

“I think your current student body president and vice president are incredibly under-compensated,” Hurtig said. “The work they do is essentially an administrator, and they get paid a tenth of an administrator.”

According to the committee report, the student body president receives a scholarship equivalent to 100 percent of in-state tuition in addition to added compensation. Together, they combine for $11,136.

The student body president is Jessica Van Ranken, senior in political science.

“So really,” Hurtig said, “if we’re talking about, ‘these positions do this much work, so they should get this much money,’ … the reality is, as you saw in the Collegian today, they flashed that number of $57,000 up there or whatever it was, and that’s probably in a way alarming to some student because they’re like, ‘Wait, we pay these guys?'”

McGee said the roles of the officers — not the roles they are encouraged to do, but the roles they are required to do — should be reevaluated.

Matt Mindrup, sophomore in biology and student senator, said compensation is not necessary as an incentive for SGA officers, “but it is a nice thing because they do have to take time out of their week.”

The disapproval bill passed 31-20-2, which means the committee will have to take another look at their recommendations.

Other action

Mirta Chavez, director of Multicultural Student Organizations, and LaBarbara James Wigfall, associate professor of landscape architecture and regional/community planning, spoke to SGA about plans for a Multicultural Student Center.

Various student groups also received funding.

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Jason Tidd
Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.