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Undergraduate Senate reevaluates pay process for USG members

university-student-government-stipend-breakdown

For the first time under new guidelines, on Feb. 7, the Undergraduate Senate’s Oversight and Advocacy Committee held hearings regarding what Undergraduate Student Government positions will receive payment in the next term.

Each year, the Undergraduate Senate determines what positions within USG receive compensation and how much they receive, Senate Speaker Andrew Gary said.

However, a previous process with annual stipend increases for these members expires this year. Because of the expiration coupled with expressed desire to rethink which positions were paid, Gary said the Undergraduate Senate took the opportunity to amend the process in September

Any changes that the Undergraduate Senate makes to the stipend amounts and distribution would take effect in the next USG term. 

“A lot of people generally agree that stipends are important because we do a lot of work and a lot of it is work for the University — and frankly, we shouldn’t be free labor for the University,” Gary said

Gary also said two years ago, members of the USG wanted to change the amount of money positions received, but the previous process that was set five years ago did not allow for yearly evaluations of stipends.

“People see the judgements about stipends as a reflection of their work when it really isn’t,”  Maxwell Pollack, chair of the Oversight and Advocacy Committee, said. “It’s a more bureaucratic process than that.”

When appropriating funds, the Senate has to abide by viewpoint neutrality and must treat all student organizations equally. Stipends are funded from student fees and must also abide by this. The fact that the funds for these positions were not reevaluated each year didn't allow for regular student input, Gary said.

Under the new process, the committee chair will send a form to eligible undergraduate officers the first week of each spring semester for stipend requests applicable to the next USG term. 

For a position to qualify for a stipend under the new process, the role must relate to University functions and be either senator-approved or directly elected, Pollack said

The committee will then convene to hear testimonies from relevant officers, and the committee chair will draft a bill consisting of stipends to be paid. The bill will then be sent to the Senate’s Finance Committee to be examined before heading to the Senate floor where it must receive two-thirds of the votes to pass. 

The total amount allocated for USG member stipends for the spring semester is $51,355.

Andrew Forbes, the Finance Committee chair, said the Undergraduate Senate receives about $6 per undergraduate student from the student activities fee. He said the Undergraduate Senate received $550,000 from the student activities fee this year. However, that fee money funds student organizations in addition to USG member stipends. The rest is saved in a general reserve.

Each semester, the Undergraduate Senate passes a budget resolution which divides the appropriations reserve into a budget total, general reserve and an amount for stipends, Logan Grodsky, undergraduate student body treasurer, said

“In these years past, it’s been something of a blank check provided to these organizations to pay their individuals, and that’s something that we’re trying to move away from,” Forbes said

@lena-miano

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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