Though elections for ASSU offices are rapidly approaching, a point that is often overlooked during the voting process is compensation for student government officials. A significant proportion of ASSU officials, both elected and unelected, receive stipends, with the largest peaking just under $10,000.
ASSU salaries change slightly year to year. The budget is calculated each spring following elections, reflecting important changes. Each new president determines the composition of their cabinet, so the number of paid officials is never the same.
Currently, under the operating budget for 2010-11, the president receives a personal stipend of $8,250, while the vice president receives a stipend of $8,500. Both typically receive an additional $1,500 stipend, meant to cover summer housing expenses. Last spring, former ASSU Vice President Kelsei Wharton ’12, who resigned earlier this quarter due to an injury, transferred $1,000 of his stipend to general discretionary funds because he spent part of his summer off-campus.
As a point of comparison, the executive stipends are at a similar level as resident assistant (RA) salaries. RAs earn 75 percent of the cost of room and board.
This year, under ASSU President Angelina Cardona ’11, executive cabinet chairs each earn a stipend of $800. Cardona’s chief of staff earns $2,500, bringing the total of all cabinet stipends this year to $35,750, down from $40,550 for last year’s cabinet.
Last year’s ASSU President, David Gobaud ’08 M.S. ’10, gave up $2,000 of his own salary to provide $1,000 in salaries for members of his larger cabinet, including new graduate student-specific positions.
The Graduate Student Council (GSC) also includes several paid positions, most notably the body’s chair, who receives $4,700.
The Undergraduate Senate compensates select members, as some positions entail a higher time commitment. The Senate Chair receives $3,000, while the Deputy Chair receives $1,000. The senate secretary is compensated $800. The chair of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, Rafael Vazquez ’12, receives a stipend of $2,000.
In a winter quarter meeting before the transition, some senators expressed confusion about which of their peers receive compensation. From last year to this year, the Senate decreased salaries for the Chair and Deputy Chair, by 29 and 50 percent, respectively. The Senate parliamentarian is no longer compensated.
For students hoping to run for class president, there is no monetary incentive — those positions are unpaid.
“I think the current compensation levels are adequate for the positions,” said former Senate Chair and recently appointed Vice President Michael Cruz ’12. “There’s a lot of work that goes into each position, so any compensation is much appreciated.”
Cruz said he did not weigh compensation as a factor in his decision to run for elected office; he preferred instead to focus on “how much social good and social change I can make.”
Cruz took office following Wharton’s resignation. He admitted that he still does not know how the ASSU will handle the transition in terms of compensation.
“We’ve been more focused on making sure the transition of the work has been going well,” Cruz said.
Cardona said that the ASSU would try to prorate salaries for those who moved to different positions following Wharton’s resignation, using time spent on the job as the main metric to determine compensation levels.
Cruz discussed the pay level of student government officials in terms of the amount of time an individual can commit and the individual’s financial situation.
“I think it depends on the individual’s circumstances,” he said in reference to students’ decision to run for office.
Unelected paid positions in the ASSU include representatives on the Nominations Commission and the Elections Commission. The chair of the Nominations Commission is currently compensated $1,650, while the Elections Commissioner is compensated $3,000.
“The time commitment for being on the Elections Commission is particularly high,” wrote Elections Commissioner Stephen Trusheim ’13 in an e-mail to The Daily.
He described the job as requiring “year-round work” and “about two months of constant round-the-clock work” to ensure that ASSU candidates, class president slates and special fee groups meet ballot deadlines.
Salaries for ASSU officials were under scrutiny last spring, when then-senator Alex Katz ’12 presented two amendments to a bill before the Senate to cut executive salaries. His final amendment, to collectively cut the salaries by $3,000, was rejected 7-1.
(Courtesy of the ASSU)