SGA votes to raise the pay for its executive board

By Anthony Navarrete, Staff Writer

The Student Government Association passed Bill 1921 last week, which increases the amount the Executive Board is paid.

The bill proposed that the president be paid $2,000, the vice president $1,750, and the secretary and treasurer $1,500 each in the form of an annual scholarship. This pay increase doubles the president’s original $1,000 scholarship, and triples the pay for secretary and treasurer, while adding $750 to the vice president’s pay.

The record shows the bill was passed by the Senate with 14 votes in favor, 0 against, and 2 abstaining. There are 17 senators in SGA.

The bill goes into effect immediately and SGA Vice President Thao Nguyen said the board is hoping to get paid during this semester but has a back up plan in place to receive full compensation next semester just in case.

“We’re trying to work out those details right now, but we’re thinking that either we’ll be compensated in the past like it has been with the two semesters scholarships, the full scholarship broken in half, or if there’s any problems with that, it would be a lump sum next semester,” he said.

Dean of Students and SGA adviser Christine Schneikart-Luebbe said Bill 1921 was a one year decision. Schneikart-Luebbe said that in the future if the Senate believes it is important to go beyond that amount, she would entertain it.

In past years, pay was decided by the SGA adviser, but this year’s Executive Board decided to take a different path.

After being approached by the executive officers, Schneikart-Luebbe suggested they look to similar schools to see how their executive board is paid.

Nguyen said the Executive Board made a spreadsheet of the hours they worked and decided on the amounts based on if the board was paid $7.25 an hour and worked an estimated average of seven to eight hours a week, which includes their five office hours and meetings. Nguyen said they multiplied that number with the number of weeks in the academic year.

Nguyen said he reached out to different universities from the Heartland Conference and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities to learn about their total SGA budget, duties of the SGA officers and their compensation and if senators are compensated.

After comparing what he heard from five different schools - including St. Louis University, Avila University, St. Mary’s University, St. Mary’s College and  St. Ambrose University - Nguyen said he came to the conclusion that the SGA Executive Board at Newman was being underpaid.

“It seemed that executive officers at other universities do less office hours than the ones that we do, and they are paid more in scholarships than us,” he said.

Nguyen said his findings led the executive officers to their decision to propose a raise in pay that would be, what they consider, a fair compensation.

President Marisa Zayat said funds for the pay raise came from the operating budget which is used to fund internal affairs for SGA. She said the operating budget is separate from the allocating budget that is used for clubs and capstone projects. Both budgets are funded by student fees.

Schneikart-Luebbe said she feels the bill will attract more students to run for SGA.

“I would hate to hear someone say to me, ‘I would love to get involved in student government as an executive officer, but the pay is so paltry that I can’t afford to be involved.’ That’s not the reason we want someone to choose not be involved.”

The bill in its entirety can be found here.

PHOTO: THE SGA PRESIDENT’S salary has been doubled for this year, while others received a $1000 increase. Carley Sullivan, Photography Editor