More than money: Here’s how much student leaders are compensated for their work

(Photo Illustration by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Leaders across the three branches of Student Governing Association are monetarily compensated for their work and student advocacy. According to a 2016 projection report issued by the committee that decides compensation, these leaders may receive $60,365 in scholarships and other compensation combined in fiscal year 2020.

Compensation for student leaders comes out of SGA’s Privilege Fee allocation. The total allocation amounts to about $73,000.

Only upper-level leaders are compensated monetarily. Students in these roles are not allowed to serve on the Joint Committee on Officer Compensation — the committee that decides SGA leadership compensation.

Every three years the committee is commissioned. It is made up of at least one faculty adviser who serves as chair, an appointee from the student body president, another from the attorney general and one from the speaker of the student senate. Student senate also nominates an additional two members.

Appointees cannot hold a compensated position, but can later run or be appointed to those positions. Students currently getting paid for their work in SGA are prohibited from sitting on the committee to avoid a conflict of interest, student body president and senior in industrial engineering Jansen Penny said.

“Some concerns that I’ve heard about Student Governing Association [are] being the ones who allocate money and then also allocating money to ourselves,” Penny said.

Creighton Glasscock, student senator and sophomore in computer science, is one of the student senate appointees on the committee. He said compensation is based on tuition.

All compensated positions are paid with some combination of scholarships and stipends. Positions like the treasurer and executive branch chief of staff are compensated only with scholarships.

Currently, 10 leaders are compensated: student body president, speaker of the student senate, student body vice president, attorney general, speaker pro tem, Privilege Fee Committee chair, treasurer, chief of staff, College Council chair and University Allocations Committee chair.

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Leadership compensation is based on tuition and is paid out in scholarships and stipends. Based on the 2016 recommendation from the Joint Committee on Officer Compensation, the student body president receives 100 percent of their tuition.
(Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Every time the committee meets, it scales the recommendation for the next three years and outlines the expected compensation. Increases to compensation are decided based on changes in cost of living expenses, tuition and inflation, Glasscock said.

“Staying on the ball with how we compensate our officers is important for two reasons: one of those is to provide incentive and to of course adequately compensate those positions because they do put in tangible work,” Glasscock said. “And the second one … the fact that a lot of these positions are really time consuming and may disclude some of the people holding these positions from holding an outside job off of campus and for a lot of people, [that] is not possible.”

Hannah Heatherman, speaker of the student senate and senior in finance, said she had to leave her other job in the Dean’s Office at the College of Business Administration because of the demands her SGA work.

“I wouldn’t be able to as fully fulfill the requirements of this position if it wasn’t compensated,” Heatherman said.

On a light week, she said she puts in a minimum of 35 hours of work.

This year, conversations in the committee aren’t very different than those from previous years.

“The conversations so far have been weighing how the workloads of the positions have changed from three years ago and weighing what the hourly requirements weekly are … deciding what positions are good and to keep the same and where to introduce cuts or raises,” Glasscock said.

One position that may receive receive a cut to compensation is College Council chair. The recommended compensation for that position is 25 percent of tuition. However, Glasscock said, no one currently fills that position.

“Our plan right now is to nix the compensation for that entirely and redistribute that to other positions for example,” Glasscock said. “A lot of the positions right now are on the table. Some of them are small, five to ten percent decreases or increases.”

The recommendation for the student body president and the speaker of the student senate aren’t expected to change, he said, but compensation is based off of tuition, which tends to fluctuate.

“It is definitely possible that the positions that we leave the same … will increase because of tuition,” Glasscock said.

The current committee was commissioned at the start of the academic year and is expected to submit a finished report with a recommendation this week. The recommendation can either be approved or disapproved by the student senate.

While compensation can be an incentive for leadership and provides equitable opportunities for any student to get involved despite their financial background, Penny said he thinks many leaders would do it without the money.

“If I was doing this for the compensation, it would not be worth it at the end of the day … It can be very time consuming and it can eat up a large part of your life. It’s really not worth it for that compensation,” Penny said. “If these students are in these positions, they’re in it because they want to be there, they want to be invested. And probably a lot of times, they would still be there if there wasn’t that compensation.”

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.