Do the job to earn the wage

To earn their money, employees must fulfill their job requirements. Currently, the Student Government Association (SGA) does not monitor whether or not senators are earning their weekly stipends. After the internal conflict in September concerning SGA President Kofi Mensah’s stipend (see Debate sparks over SGA president’s summer stipend on vermontcynic.com), the SGA has started a discussion about instituting a method to make sure stipends are earned and not simply granted. This is definitely a step in the right direction because it will balance out the flaws inherent in the stipend system. Once any student is “hired,” they can simply submit their hours through the University’s payment system, Peoplesoft. Even if a student has a week in which they do not fulfill their duties to their full capacity, they can still receive payment. The stipend system also relies on the integrity of individuals. It assumes the best of all individuals who are a part of the stipend system, but it is a well-known fact that no one is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. The SGA’s stipends are paid by the Student Activity Fee — $154 per student that is a part of the “comprehensive fee” paid by all full-time students, according to the Student Action Committee Report on the Student Comprehensive Fee from April of 2010. This fee also pays for club funding. With an undergraduate enrollment of 10,450 in 2010, according to the UVM Admissions website, that amounts to approximately $1,609,300 of student money controlled by the SGA. So every student has a vested interest in whether or not their SGA executives and chairs are working in their best interest. While this is a large burden to bear, it is one for which SGA executives volunteered. These positions take a substantial time commitment — a time commitment that warrants far more than $200 or $65. This also means that any SGA member should be motivated for many reasons other than a stipend. In that case, a stipend helps offset the time costs for chairs and executives. It should not be their only motivation. Instituting a system that adds more transparency to the SGA will be beneficial to all UVM students. The Cynic applauds the SGA’s determination to have this discussion to hold themselves accountable. The next step should be its formal creation, and we’ll be waiting to see that happen.