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New Undergraudate Student Government bill cuts stipends for Honor Court members

university-student-government-stipend-breakdown

Many members of UNC's Undergraduate Student Government raised concerns about the 2025 fiscal year stipend bill passed by the Undergraduate Senate in late February. 

The Senate’s Finance Committee held a meeting on Feb. 25 to hear public comment and deliberate about the bill under the new stipend review process adopted in the fall. The amended bill was passed two days later in the Senate in a 9-8 vote.

Under the new review process, Oversight and Advocacy Committee Chair Maxwell Pollack drafted a stipend bill based on testimony from members of the Undergraduate Student Government and sent the proposed bill to Speaker of the Senate Andrew Gary and the Senate's Finance Committee before the bill went to the Senate floor for a final vote. 

The original bill, proposed by Pollack, eliminated stipends for summer members of UNC's Honor System – which includes members of the Honor Court and attorney general's staff who are responsible for reviewing alleged Honor Code violations and determining sanctions. The legislation also created stipends for previously unpaid positions.

The Finance Committee chair and outreach coordinator, both previously unpaid, were appropriated $4,000 and $2,450, respectively.

In the previous fiscal year's stipend bill, the Honor Court was given $9,000 to pay summer members. Pollack said he found the members ineligible for a 2025 fiscal year stipend because they are not Senate-approved. 

“The requirement for [members] to be Senate-approved is basically to ensure that people don’t just hire their friends, and it’s another level of making sure that money goes to people that are actually doing the work of student government,” Pollack said.

Joshua Alexander, vice chair of the Finance Committee and Honor Court member, said the cut for summer members would make it even more difficult to encourage members of the Honor System to work through the summer — a task he said is already challenging.

“I really felt that the change would be harmful because it sets a precedent that that’s where we can cut money from,” Alexander said. “It’s so inessential, or not important, that you can just move the money elsewhere.”

During the committee meeting, several members of the attorney general's staff advocated for stipends over the summer, stating that there is a larger caseload because of rollover from the spring and each case takes longer to resolve during those months. Sophie van Duin, chair of the Board of Elections also sent a letter to the Senate requesting a decrease in her position's stipend to allow more money for summer members.

In response, Senator Katie Fiore said she proposed an amendment to the original bill on Feb. 25 in an effort to address the gap between stipends for summer Honor System members and the Finance Committee chair. She proposed a $1,000 cut from both the attorney general and Honor Court chair, as well as $400 from the chair of the BOE.

This initiative allocated $2,400 for summer members of the Honor System.

From the original bill drafted by Pollack to the version passed by the Senate, no changes were made to the amounts appropriated for student body president, vice president, treasurer, Finance Committee chair or Senate speaker, Finance Committee Chair Andrew Forbes said.

 Senator James Jessup said every position aside from president, vice president and senate speaker was disputed at the committee meeting. He said that the only Senate position that received stipends historically was the Senate speaker because this position involves working with numerous committees.

In the original stipend bill drafted by Pollack, the treasurer position increased from $2,100 to $4,000, while the attorney general stipend decreased from $5,250 to $4,725. The Honor Court chair rose from $4,200 to $4,725.

The stipends for undergraduate student secretary, chief of staff and the director of state and external affairs were cut completely from $4,560, $1,575 and $2,100, respectively. 

Jessup said current officers are not prevented from running for their same positions again, meaning that those who set next term's stipends can determine how much they get paid.

“The fact that you can fund yourself for next year and already think about running for it again next year is insane,” he said.

Undergraduate Student Body Treasurer Logan Grodsky said the committee unanimously approved the amended stipends. He said he felt, and still feels, that stipends are not an appropriate use of the student activities fee which makes up the Senate's fund.

The new stipend bill will go into effect for members who begin their terms in April, but the actual appropriations themselves will begin on July 1 in accordance with the University’s fiscal year, Forbes said.

“It was the best compromise that could’ve happened and I’m glad that that’s what we all settled on,” Alexander said

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