Student officers not in it for money

They may be worth it, but they don’t want it.

That was the tone of the discussion May 7 as members of Chico State University’s Associated Students Governmental Affairs Committee took on the politically awkward subject of whether officers should get a bigger stipend for their work.

Tiffany Yost, the A.S. vice president for business and finance, had gathered statistics from other student governments in the CSU and found that officers and committee members at Chico State are the second-lowest paid.

Yost was quick to point out that she’s not lobbying for raises, just following an A.S. policy requiring the issue to be looked at every couple of years.

When the numbers came up showing the 10 commissioners, directors and officers would need a total of about $15,000 a year in raises coming from the activity fee and other budgets to align with their counterparts, several GAC members spoke out against it.

The proposed increases range from 14 percent to 31 percent, or from a new total of $508 a month for commissioners to $1,000 a month for the A.S. president.

Melanie Watson, A.S. director of university affairs, said she is “very much against it"—especially since the A.S. couldn’t even muster cost-of-living increases for some career employees this year.

Janae Allison, A.S. commissioner of activity fee, said that would work out to $14 an hour. “I would have a hard time justifying that,” she said.

“You don’t do this for the pay. You don’t do this to make a living,” Allison said.

A.S. President Amber Johnsen said she lives just fine on her $880-a-month stipend. “Serving others, you’re never paid well,” she said.

Yost said that Chico’s student government is the only one in the system that is responsible for a $26 million corporation with a bookstore and food services, and it’s “just kind of disheartening” that stipends don’t reflect the time and energy the student leaders put in.

The issue is in the purview of the A.S. Board of Directors, and GAC wouldn’t vote on it. Herman Ellis, who represents the university’s Student Activities Office to GAC, said even if members ignore the issue this year, “I can guarantee you it will come back up.”

Also at the meeting:

· Chico State Athletic Director Don Batie said he was concerned that “misinformation” had gotten out about the $14-a-semester student fee increase referendum that is the subject of a special election May 8-9. If passed, the fee would save popular sports programs from being dropped and also provide money for intramural and club sports.

Executive Vice President Jimmy Reed clarified that the A.S. is not sponsoring the election, just running it under a contract agreement with supporters. The GAC members decided not to recommend as a board that students vote a particular way.

· Jon Slaughter, the A.S.'s longtime career employee who is pretty much the student government’s institutional memory, announced that he is leaving in August to pursue a doctorate in educational organization and leadership.

“I have major mixed emotions after 21 years here,” said the popular Slaughter, whose formal title is activity fees director.

Reed, wishing him well, said, "We are all deeply depressed that you would be leaving us."