The ASUSF Senate Finance Committee has recently finished allocating $750,000 to 17 funded accounts for the 2009-10 academic year. The committee of 10 students is responsible for deciding everything from how many issues of the campus newspaper can be printed to how much can be spent on costumes for College Players’ plays. Next year’s $750,000 budget is $30,000 less than was allocated this year, due to an expected decline in available funds in the upcoming year, and unfortunately, the committee has decided to make up for the loss by slicing funded account budgets and stipends while leaving senate’s excessively high stipends alone.
Twelve of the 17 funded accounts had their budgets cut for next year, some by as little as a few hundred dollars, others by as much as a few thousand dollars. The committee said a “high scrutiny” was put on stipends, in a written letter to funded accounts explaining the budget changes. Student workers at funded accounts already make far less than minimum wage and some student workers like the editor in chief of the Ignatian Literary Magazine, Anna Shajirat, receive no stipend for their labor. Shajirat said she puts in 15 hours a week at her editing job. While the Foghorn admires students for whom work at funded accounts is a labor of love, we should be reasonably compensated for our labor. Or, at least compensated on-par with what workers at other funded accounts are making, senate included.
The ASUSF President makes $7,000 a year, far more than any other stipend position outside of Senate and the four Senate Vice Presidents each receive over $6,000. In comparison, the executive producer of USFtv makes $2,500 a year and the editor in chief of the Foghorn will be getting $3,000 next year. According to Senate, their salaries were set at such figures after a year of research during which ASUSF senate salaries were compared with similar positions at other universities. We at the Foghorn are glad to hear that Senate wasted so much time searching for justification for their high salaries but find it hypocritical that they decided not to research the stipends for other positions.
How much time was spent comparing USFtv, Foghorn, Graphics Center and positions at the other 13 accounts that had budget cuts to similar positions at other schools? If Senate was truly concerned with creating equitable stipends, why did they compare only their own salaries to those at other schools? In their letter to funded accounts, the Finance Committee states that they adjusted stipends based on the amount of responsibilities of each position in relation to positions at other funded accounts. If this is their method for deciding stipends, why did they look externally to determine the stipends for senators and not for any other account?
As for responsibilities, what has Senate done this year to deserve so many thousands of dollars more than the executives at other clubs? As you can read in President Platt’s letter elsewhere on the Opinion page, senators extended the hours of Crossroads on Thursday and Friday nights for a trial period and pressured the Board of Trustees to keep tuition low. Platt did not mention Senate’s other big accomplishment this semester, a new image campaign called “Senate is SEXY,” that was quickly canceled.
According to ASUSF Vice President of Business Administration My Nguyen, senator stipends are “an accurate representation” of the work done by senate because they are an “umbrella organization.” ASUSF President Alex Platt told the Foghorn that senate positions are equal to part-time jobs and sometimes a choice has to be made between part-time jobs and internships, and being a senate member. Platt’s comments seem to suggest that executives at other funded accounts do not face the same situation. The stipend cuts made by Senate show that in making this decision they did not take into account the time spent and sacrifices made by members of other funded accounts, a sign that Senate is out of touch with how much work students put into these jobs.
But even more concerning is that not a single cent was cut from the stipends of any ASUSF Senators, and the overall ASUSF budget was increased from $44,071 to $57,872.
This past Tuesday was the deadline to submit written budget appeals to ASUSF, and we hope other funded accounts sent written appeals as the Foghorn did. We also encourage all funded accounts to represent themselves at next Tuesday’s senate meeting when the appeals will be discussed and voted on. ASUSF must be held accountable and explain to the USF community why they are being paid so much more than executives at other clubs with similar work-loads.