A bill asking for compensation for student government officials has resulted in uproar among students after its approval at the end the fall semester. Evident is the rise of student attention to the workings of ASUCM with the opposition claiming having had no voice in this decision.
The introduction and subsequent passing of Bill 35, to establish compensation for elected senators and executives, caused debates among the student body, in favor and against, but with firm attention paid to the process by which it was ratified.
“I don’t feel that the bill was properly advertised to the student body,” stated Shane Kavanagh, creator of a Facebook event calling for a veto, “There needed to be more foresight and consider that a bill in which the senate was going to pay themselves may be viewed a little differently from a morality perspective than your average piece of legislation.”
While a majority of voices in regards to the bill showed disagreement, there were also supporters.
“Before this bill was proposed, I supported the compensation of student leaders in ASUCM” said Noel Justin Lee Gomez. “I came from the largest community college in Nevada and student leaders were fairly compensated for their time and efforts while in office.”
He also states he respects the government’s capacity to make those decisions adding that students have always had the opportunity to “voice and address concerns with the ASUCM during their weekly meetings.”
The bill passed with a simple majority at the December 7 Senate meeting, authorizing each Senator to receive $300 per semester and executives $600 during this spring semester. Senator Jake Malone, who introduced the bill, explains to inquiring students that this compensation will only amount to 11 cents for every Senator from the $65.68 student government fee and 22 cents for every executive. However, since the bill also seeks to institutionalize the compensation for upcoming years, the bill was split into two parts.
One author of the bill, ASUCM Treasurer Keith Ellis, mentions that the main goals of the bill are to get students interested in ASUCM, demonstrate the work that they provide to the campus, and encourage active participation from students.
“Executives have to work in ASUCM material, attend Senate meetings, and hold individual meetings on top of classes, clubs, and current jobs. They cannot avoid the work,” Ellis points out. Additionally in his role as he states that the money that will pay the authorized compensation will come from the general fund.
Another author of the bill is current ASUCM External Vice President, Jonathan Ly.
“Sooner or later, the officials of ASUCM will seek to be compensated. All of us knew that coming into the semester there was no compensation, and that did not stop any of us, Senator or Executive, from performing his or her duties,” Ly stated.
As the External Vice President, who travels to other UC campuses often, he has seen that other UC campuses do compensate elected members. However, Ly is sensitive to the issue that is difficult for the student body to accept that the senators of ASUCM would vote on the compensation package that would benefit them aswell. In his eyes, this compensation will make officials more accountable for their duties and agrees with Ellis that this can bring a more engaged participation from the student body.
Student outcry came only after the fact, with many voicing the unfairness of the legislation not being public enough and suggesting a referendum that they could vote on.
Lauriano Bucio, and Economics major, is one of the many students who sees both sides of the arguments. He believes the bill “raises competition in Senate elections that leads to better qualified people to be in Senate positions.”
But he reiterates the grievances of many by saying the bill was passed at an inconvenient time for students to pay attention—during final exams and projects—and should be vetoed.