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Sixteen SGA members have stipends cut upon review

A year after it was passed, a new accountability measure instituted by the SGA Senate and Finance Board has begun to yield results. In its debut year, the Stipend Review Committee has determined 16 compensated SGA officers will receive only half of their stipends, based on the work they have done this quarter.

“It’s important that the people getting paid are actually doing work,” said Collin Sullivan, one of the officers who drafted the SRC legislation, currently serving as one of its co-chairs.

The SRC consists of seven voting members. Two are from the senate, two from the finance board and two from the executive branch, with the SGA advisor serving as the last voting member. All have a term limit of one semester, with the exception of the SGA advisor. To prevent bias, they alternate facilitations and responsibilities quarter to quarter.

With the stipend review, SGA members who receive stipends must complete bi-weekly reports, which are then published on the SGA website at the end of every quarter. The SRC uses those reports, as well as anecdotal evidence, to evaluate paid members and determine whether they have contributed adequately in order to receive their full stipend.

After evaluation, the SRC voting members decide if paid members will receive their stipends in full, or if they will be halved. If a member receives a half stipend, they have up to five days to appeal the SRC’s decision. For now, that appeal goes to the Student Activity Fee Review Board, but legislation for an appeals board has been passed, meaning that as soon as after spring break, appeals could directly be heard there.

This past quarter, a total of 16 out of 52 compensated members received half-stipends after the SRC’s evaluation of their reports and had the opportunity to appeal that decision until last Wednesday (03/08). As of Sunday (03/12), only four of them have.

While the SRC may bring to attention instances in which members are not contributing fully, it cannot be used as grounds for impeachment. Rather, it can prompt further investigation from other SGA members, as well as start conversations about how a member’s contributions can be improved.

“It’s a really helpful conversation. I think it becomes dangerous when that conversation becomes repetitive,” said Sullivan. “We recognize that 16 out of 52 members is a very high portion. The President has been having conversations with those members about what’s going on and how we can fix it.”

The SRC awarded all members their full stipends on their first quarter after being hired, no matter what. After their first quarter, members receive feedback on what they can improve in order to ensure they receive their full stipends the following quarter.

According to Sullivan, one of the reasons for cutting a member’s stipend can be failure to submit bi-weekly reports.

“It’s really critical for the SRC to have those reports, because that is something that we are publishing for the student body, and we’re trying to become more transparent.”

However, even if the member has not submitted as many reports as others, if they can prove they have been contributing adequately, their stipends may not be cut. This can be done by the members themselves or non-members through anecdotal evidence at SRC meetings, which are open to the public.

The SRC has saved the SGA approximately $1500 due to half-stipends. While it is unknown what will be done of this money in the long-run (as it cannot be reallocated), it will remain in the SGA’s stipend budget for the time being.