Peter McClelland, the speaker pro tempore, resigned after a disagreement over a proposed change that gives stipends to the speaker of congress and the finance committee chair.
“I fundamentally see Student Government as a public service, and I believe giving its leaders or members a check, at best, cheapens that idea and, at worst, corrupts our institutions,” McClelland said.
Kevan Schoonover, former rules and judiciary committee chair of Student Congress, was part of a 10-member task-force that has been meeting weekly since January to amend the Student Constitution.
“We deliberated and we determined that there are two positions — finance committee chair and the speaker of congress — whose positions require a large volume of work and therefore are worthy of a stipend,” he said.
After the task force’s meeting on Monday night, McClelland resigned. Tuesday, Schoonover, McClelland’s fiance, took over as speaker pro-tempore and Cole Simons was elected chairman of the Rules and Judiciary Committee.
Student Congress is currently the only branch of student government that does not receive any stipends. A proposal called for the speaker and finance committee chairman to receive a stipend no larger than that of the student body vice president and treasurer, their counterparts in the executive branch.
The student body vice president and treasurer currently make $200 per month, but the official stipend amounts would not be decided until the annual budget was voted upon. Schoonover said congress would ultimately have the power to decide whether to award the stipends.
“If congress feels that they are there for the wrong reasons, they have the ability to take it away.”
The constitutional amendments will be sent to vote by the student body next week. In order for the amendments to pass, at least 2.5 percent of the student body must vote and the majority must be in favor. If approved, the amendment to allow the stipends will not be implemented until next academic year.
The changes were approved at Tuesday’s Student Congress meeting.
Joshua Aristy, current finance committee chairman, said students do not understand the amount of time and work the job demands. He said the stipend recognizes the value of the work the finance committee chair does.
“I think the stipend will ensure that future finance committee chairs continue to put their fullest effort into completing all their responsibilities,” he said.
Aristy said he spends up to 40 hours a week on finance committee duties. He said on a per-hour basis, a stipend for the finance committee chair would make less than his part-time job at Student Stores.
“We don’t do it for the money. The stipend is less than minimum wage, but we do it because we want to serve,” he said. “This just makes it a little easier to do it.”