Students considering whether to apply for student body vice president next year might need to check the size of their wallets first.
The rules and judiciary committee of Student Congress passed a bill Wednesday that could eliminate the student body vice president’s $200 monthly stipend. The bill will be heard by the full Student Congress next week.
But the student government executive board is worried that if the stipend is cut, the position will be less accessible to students who need an income to support themselves through college.
At several other universities in the state, student body representatives are also provided with stipends — and the question of stipend amounts is a point of discussion across the board.
N.C. State University Student Body President Andy Walsh has a stipend of $4,650. He said stipends have increased slightly, but they remain “a touchy subject” that prompts officers to freely voice their opinions.
Walsh said he has cut back hours at his paid internship to devote more time to student government.
“If you average it out and put in my time cards, I would be getting paid around 80 cents an hour — that’s ludicrous, but it doesn’t matter,” Walsh said. “I’m happy doing my job regardless of the stipend.”
Jake Cox, student body president at Appalachian State University, said the president and vice president at ASU receive higher stipends than the other executive officers. He said stipends are necessary for student government to operate.
“It’s not so much about the payment, but more as a thank you to every worker who puts in those 25 to 30 hours of work in a given week,” he said.
UNC Student Body President Will Leimenstoll, who receives financial aid, said balancing a job and a position on the executive board is difficult.
“I would not have run for office and would not have been able to put the burden on my family,” he said. “I’ve had a job every other semester at Carolina.”
“I think it would significantly undermine access of these positions and undermine the ability of student government to represent students at Carolina.”
Leimenstoll said the vice president serves as a great asset to student government, making it necessary for the position to be paid.
UNC’s student body president and treasurer also receive stipends. They must perform their duties through the summer.
The vice president shares multiple responsibilities with the president, such as sitting in on meetings and making external appointments.
Peter McClelland, vice chairman of the rules and judiciary committee and co-sponsor of the bill, said last year’s student body vice president, Zealan Hoover, balanced the responsibility with being a resident advisor.
“I don’t agree that a part-time job is not possible,” McClelland said.
McClelland said the vice president’s stipend — $2,400 a year — can be put to better use elsewhere, such as other student organizations.
“We should hold ourselves to the same rules as everyone else — student government is a public service.”
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