‘The right and moral thing to do’: SGA special committee puts officer pay cuts on the table

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Thursday evening, student senators took further steps to reduce expenses in response to privilege fee deficits this year, special ordering a bill to establish a new Special Committee on Officer Compensation Reduction.

Student Governing Association officer compensation rates are set by the Joint Committee on Officer Compensation, which usually convenes every three years. JCOC wasn’t scheduled to meet again until FY23. Officer compensation was last evaluated in 2019, with a recommended 17 percent decrease.

However, the new committee plans to expedite this process, evaluating compensation and scholarship rates for the upcoming semester.

Lily Colburn, junior in political science and chair of the Governmental Relations Committee, read a statement from Nathan Bothwell, speaker of the student senate and senior in political science and communication studies.

Bothwell said after reflecting on the second round of far-reaching budget callbacks, in which SGA took a 6 percent cut while avoiding cutting into officer pay, he “couldn’t shake the feeling that I had made a mistake.”

“Many members of SGA are working hard for their compensation, and a great many more are working hard without any pay at all, just because they believe in our mission to serve the students of this campus,” Bothwell wrote. “But you know who else has worked hard on this campus? The reporters at the Collegian, the student employees at the union, the healthcare professionals at Lafene. This pandemic is forcing us to work harder with less resources, instead we handed down our resolution and said ‘Deal with it.’”

Though the decisions are not easy ones, Bothwell said reevaluating officer compensation is “the right and moral thing to do.”

Madison Brown, senior in finance and chair of the Privilege Fee Committee, echoed some of Bothwell’s sentiments.

“I want Student Governing Association to be good stewards of our student dollars. … I think this is the best way to go forward,” Brown said.

Andrew Booze, senior in political science and chair of the Senate Operations Committee, expressed concern with the bill. Rather than going around JCOC rules, which he said were established to prevent the body from changing its own compensation quickly, he suggested voluntary cuts to compensated members.

“I don’t believe that this committee is the only option to be moral or ethical in this situation, and I don’t believe we should go around the processes that are established to provide protections around this,” Booze said.

Colburn, who helped author the bill, said this exceptional year needs an exceptional solution.

“I understand the hesitancy when it comes to messing with the JCOC process, it is a very strict process for a reason so we never increase our allocations or specifically decrease someone out of spite. … I think the JCOC rules are there for a reason, but if you haven’t heard it enough already, these are unprecedented times … and a really difficult decision to make that requires an outside body,” Colburn said.

The committee is chaired by Kristen Schau, senior in political science and sociology, and consist of the following members:

  • Robert Gamez, director of Student Financial Assistance,
  • Appointed student representatives Jansen Penny, senior in industrial engineering and former student body president, and Grace Wheeler, senior in communication studies,
  • Student senators Brynn Carlson, graduate student in nutrition and kinesiology, and Creighton Glasscock, junior in computer science and mathematics.

The special committee will submit final recommendations by Nov. 16. The student senate will then vote on the recommendations.

Student senate will reconvene at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 via Zoom.

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My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.