“Because many graduate and professional students are either funding their own education or rely on departmental stipends, GPSF has a long history of ensuring that the GPSF leaders receive a small stipend in exchange for their work,” she said. “A graduate or professional student who may otherwise have to work a second or third job, and therefore be unable to participate in GPSF, can use the stipend to help support themselves.”
Percy said the distribution of stipends is approved and overseen by the GPSF Senate.
“(The senate has) a vested interested in ensuring that the executive board performs to a level set by the senate, so the stipends also ensure that GPSF executives and the executive branch are responding to the needs of the democratically-elected senate,” she said.
GPSF Vice President for Internal Affairs Brian Coussens said the paid positions are justified in the GPSF constitution. Coussens said new positions and methods for compensation are currently being discussed.
“The constitution recognizes that reality of graduate and professional student life and attempts to offset — even if to a very small — the lost potentiality of income with a modest stipend for time given in service to their fellow graduate and professional students,” he said.
GPSF Campus and Personal Safety Advocate Calvin Deutschbein said he does not believe paid positions are necessarily appropriate for executive positions, which would be funded by graduate student fees. He said the paid positions are inconsistent with GPSF’s expressed wishes to break apart from undergraduate student government.
“I joined the GPSF because I had some clear and actionable plans to meet what I perceived as needs in my community, and I find it deeply concerning that it seems much more oriented toward serving itself rather than serving its community,” he said. “Not to take away anything from the GPSF, but they get a lot of money from me every year and do little to nothing to help me or my program with it.”
GPSF President Dylan Russell said executive board members commit significant time to hold these positions.
“These positions require students to spend a lot of their free time in meetings with administrators or on University committees or carrying out the platform of the president or working on social and professional programming,” he said. “And paying executives creates a level of accountability.”