IRA proposes a second compensation package

Members of the Inter-Residence Association (IRA) General Body recently brought up a proposal for a compensation package for the IRA Executive Board, following a controversial proposal abandoned last semester. Last semester, IRA proposed a resolution which would allow Executive Board (E-board) members to receive compensation for the maximum room rate for a traditional double – $5,752 a year. The resolution faced vocal criticism from Resident Advisors (RAs), who receive similar compensation. The new resolution, proposed by the IRA Vice Chair of Student Advocacy Peter Cesiro, would be a compensation of $1,500 per semester for each Executive Board member. Cesiro is not a member of the IRA Executive Board.”I originally wrote the proposal for compensation because I’d really like to see the organization grow and be able to attract more people that would otherwise have to seek off campus work,or other positions around campus that could pay,” Cesiro said.According to the resolution, a higher compensation package would increase the quantity and quality of future applicants for executive officer positions, ensuring the ability to attract “top notch” leaders.”I originally thought it was a volunteer position,” Cesiro said. “After seeing all the hours people have to put in, I don’t think it’s fair for everybody to perceive this as volunteer.”According to IRA President Bob Just, the main reason last semester’s compensation proposal failed to pass was due to a wide abundance of negative feedback.”I think students had a sour reaction because there was a lot of misinformation,” Just said. “I think there was a lot of animosity between IRA and RAs, and people sided with their RAs because obviously you see your RAs a lot more that you would hear about IRA or even see IRA.”Three RAs said that they were told by officials in Residential Life not to comment on the proposal. One RA, who requested not to be named, said that the RAs were not officially notified of the compensation package.Just said that he is hoping to avoid sending the message that he and other E-board members are using the proposal for personal gain.”I think I did a good job making sure the Executive Board stayed out of this one,” Just said. “We really want to play this as unbiased. We don’t want our hands in this pot right now.”Despite the current financial situation, IRA’s budget is considered “safe” from any budget cuts, Just said. This compensation package will be funded through IRA’s budget, which is composed of the $15 IRA fee from each student living on campus.”If the funding came from ResLife, I think that would be a huge conflict of interest,” Just said. “We’re supposed to be advocating on behalf of the students to ResLife. If we’re getting paid by them to do that, it puts us in an awkward position.”Some students disagree with their tuition money going toward the IRA in the first place. “I don’t feel that money should be taken out of our tuition for people who don’t interact with us, or even keep us in the loop essentially,” UVM freshman Samantha Lagace said.Just is currently drafting an e-mail explaining this new compensation, which he hopes will be sent out during the weekend.Currently, the compensation package remains at $475 per semester.”It really isn’t substantial to even purchase a semester’s worth of books, if that’s really all someone’s trying to get out of it,” Cesiro said.”I do think this sends a horrible message, and students are really going to resent organizations that are pushing for a higher compensation package,” Just said. “But it really depends on how you look at it.” “I see this as a really great opportunity for the organization to continue growing and attracting people to the organization.”The compensation resolution will be discussed at the next IRA meeting on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m., Just said.”Our meetings are open, anyone can show up to an IRA meeting and say whatever they want,” Cesiro said.”I can’t support something that the student body doesn’t support, because ultimately we’re here to represent them, not ourselves,” Just said.During the IRA meeting, the Executive Board members will leave the room when the proposal is being discussed, Just said.”We don’t want to have a voice or influence on this decision,” Just said.”If people put what happened last time in the past and just look forward, they’d realize this would be a good step toward the advancement of the organization,” Cesiro said.Both Just and Cesiro said that members of IRA are open to comments and concerns on the compensation package.”Do your research. Don’t make an opinion just to make an opinion, or go along with general thought,” Just said. “Make sure you know what you’re talking about.”