In a unanimous decision, Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government approved a proposal to be presented before the board of directors for a stipend increase for USG representative senators, chairs and vice presidents. The 19-0-0 vote concluded after hours of debate on how much and why the increase should occur. The final result was that representative senators will make $160 instead of the current $80 a month and chairs and vice presidents will make $250 instead of $100 a month. This stipend increase will cost $10,875 and will come from the surplus.
USG wants to draw the money for the stipends from unspent money from previous years, called its operational surplus. For USG to get its proposal passed, members will have to appeal to the board of directors at the next meeting on Dec. 13 to get the stipend increase.
Since the original meeting, USG created a formal request and was supposed to work on a presentation, due at the Dec. 4 USG meeting, to present to the board. The presentation was completed by the Dec. 4 deadline.
However, USG President Radhika Kalani, members of the USG e-board and members of the Office of Student Life were visibly frustrated by the lack of participation from the USG table.
During the Dec. 4 meeting, Kalani pointed out that nine members had not opened the document sent via email. The presentation was finished by only a few members of the table.
“I completely forgot that we had to even help with that,” said Chair of Appeals Ray Colon. To which Kalani replied, “You forgot about your increase?”
After more issues were brought up by the e-board and the table, Damali Smith, head of OSL, said, “I think it is absolutely not fair that you guys have to be either chased or reminded for something that does not benefit any other student on this campus, but yourself.”
“It’s not really everyone’s fault that nothing was really done or like a few people did contribute, I obviously did submit later then I should have, but I was just hoping everyone would at least open it,” said Chair of Finance Justin Broomfield.
One of the issues was that many thought the tasks would be delegated instead of everyone contributing what they could. Though some attributed the problem to miscommunication, Kalani said she and the e-board had sent multiple messages to members of the table informing them of the upcoming deadline. Kalani voiced her belief in the team — even though the work was done last minute, ultimately, they all contributed. However, she did take issue with the lack of care that was displayed for something that was solely for the personal benefit of members of USG.
The reasoning behind receiving a raise for their stipends, according to the proposal, was that members should at least be able to make enough for a monthly metro card, which costs $121. It was stated that the amount of time they put in should be compensated at least on the same level of minimum wage in New York.
They cited in their argument that in 2008, the state minimum wage was $7.15 and now the minimum wage is $13. In the document it was argued, “To emphasize, at the minimum, Senators and VPs/Chairs are required to attend Senate meetings each Tuesday. Looking at that perspective alone, in the past 8 meetings held thus far we have averaged 2.07 hours per meeting; therefore, Senators aren’t even compensated for time spent at Senate meetings each month (4 weeks).”
In addition to getting fair compensation for their work, they also want to close the gap between regular members on the table and the e-board. According to their proposal, “Joining USG is never about the money, as the amount made at a part time job in a week can be equal to months’ worth of stipends. This proposal was formed to shrink the gap between e-board and everyone else, but to also highlight the work Senators and VPs/Chairs contribute on campus.”
At the meeting on Dec. 13, USG will propose the request to the board of directors. Whether or not they receive the desired raise to their stipends will depend on the board of directors’ vote.
Editor’s Note 12/16/18: Clarified what surplus USG was drawing money for the stipends from.