Every three years, SGA’s Joint Committee on Officer Compensation meets to recommend what amount of student privilege fee dollars should be used to compensate student leaders. In fiscal year 2016, over $57,000 was used to compensate 13 different roles.
The current recommendation stated that the student body vice president and speaker of the student senate receive a higher compensation, while also removing all compensation from four of the six committee chair positions. If the recommendation was not disapproved by the student senate, it would have automatically went into effect.
Jack Ayres, speaker of the Student Senate and senior in chemical engineering, does not have a vote, but said he encouraged those who do have a vote to disapprove the recommendation even if they were happy with 95 percent of it because that is how the JCOC process works.
“The process is unique in the way that the legislation will be approved unless it is disapproved,” Ayres said. “At the end of the day, I really do support the process. You know, you have to take such a strong stance — you have to reject the entire compensation report — in order to change just one little thing, but I think that process is set up for a reason and it’s to protect senators from voting on their own compensation.”
Ayres said if he had to take a stance, he would have voted yes on the disapproval.
“However, I think that at the end of the day I’ve really tried to focus on the process and making sure that students, senators and executive branch members and committee chairs’ opinions are heard,” Ayres said. “And I really have deferred my thought on those positions to people who have held those positions, which does include previous people that held these positions.”
“Regardless of my plans for next year, decisions should be made by those who have served in those roles,” Ayres said. “I do not feel like I have any different role in this process as somebody who is planning to run for student body president than someone who will be graduating or does not plan to run next year.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Carlos Flores, student senator and senior in agricultural economics, said he was in support of the committee’s recommendation and was not in favor of the disapproval because the committee’s recommendation would have led to less money spent by SGA on officer compensation.
“I guess I was for that because while I believe that those in the leadership deserve some sort of compensation, we have to keep in mind that their compensation comes from the privilege fee,” Flores said. “It comes from fees paid by students and it is hard for me to see the leadership being compensated but then hear about students on campus who may not even know these leaders are being compensated.”
Flores, who has never been in an SGA leadership role that is compensated, said SGA has to make sure student leaders get the credit they deserve, but they also must respect their student body by making sure compensations are given in an effective way while also keeping students informed about the process.
Flores also said he is considering running for student body president, but that it does not influence his thoughts on why he feels that way.
“There’s no correlation at all,” Flores said. “Whether I end up seeking an office in the executive committee or not, the compensation is not a factor among the things that drive me to consider such position. It’s certainly not a factor. So whether I get a compensation or not, it’s not going to affect my decision whether I run for (president) or not.”
As previously reported by the Collegian, Jonathan Peuchen, SGA privilege fee committee chair and junior in mechanical engineering, said the committee’s recommendation does not reflect the direction that SGA wants to go and that he believes officer compensation should be more transparent to the student body.
Currently, SGA officer compensation is a line item of the Office of Student Activities and Services’ privilege fee, Peuchen said, and he hopes to convert it from being a line item to being its own privilege fee agreement.
After the disapproval bill was passed, which Peuchen was an author of, he said he has “no comment” on what he hopes to see from the next recommendation the Joint Committee on Officers’ Compensation will be presenting to the Senate.
When it comes to making SGA officer compensation more transparent and the changes that can be made, “there’s not a whole lot to it,” Peuchen said.
Peuchen said he is not planning to run for student body president next year.