ASUC Bill Places Restrictions on Executive Office Stipend Allocation

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After weeks of being held up because of poor meeting attendance, an ASUC Senate bill imposing restrictions on stipend allocation finally passed last week.

The bill, authored by Student Action Senator Brooke Rowland, caps the amount an executive office can spend on stipends and adds requirements needed to receive a stipend. It was delayed for months because of the elections reform bill and went through several transformations before it had a majority of the senate's support.

Rowland heralded the bill as "a step in the right direction."

"It wasn't as strict as I wanted it to be," Rowland said. "I wanted to cut stipends by a lot more, but I thought it was more important that we could have something we could all agree on."

She said she wrote the bill because at every senate meeting people would ask for stipends without clearly explaining what they had accomplished.

"It seemed to me there was a tremendous amount of waste," Rowland said. "Every week there were executives bringing people up for stipends. I felt that it wasn't fair to the students coming before us to be refused when the burden should be on the ASUC's shoulders to regulate them. I'm really disgusted with the current system."

The bill amends a section of the ASUC bylaws which previously placed little restriction on stipend allocation to include more guidelines.

The bylaws now require all ASUC personnel who want stipends to submit a written report to the Finance Committee at the end of the semester detailing what they have done to merit a stipend. The bylaws also establish a more clear-cut procedure for stipend allocations, which amount to $50,000 in the past school year.

Some of the senators who were not in favor of the bill said it did not accomplish anything and set a bad precedent for those in stipend positions, such as interns and chiefs of staff, whose work affects many students on campus.

"I agree with the bill's motivation in setting up a rational standard in the allocation of stipends," said Student Action Senator Tony Falcone. "But it actually doesn't accomplish anything. It's simply an advisory-advising something we do more or less anyways."

Other critics said the bill did not go far enough in the regulation of stipends.

"I think the bill is an important reform movement," said Independent Senator Puja Sarna. "(But) all in all, I think the bill was too watered down to support. It half addresses the issue and leaves so much open for abuse."

Sarna also said the threshold set for stipend allocation is too high.

"Saying a stipend can be $4,000 or $5,000 encourages executives to pad their budgets," she said.

Supporters of the bill said it sets the foundation for future reform.

"I co-sponsored it because we need some codification on how we deal with stipends," said Walking Walrus Senator Anand Upadhye. "This is just a way of telling the executives not to go overboard with bonuses and stipends and not to use too much of the students' money for stipends that really should be kept low."

Rowland agreed, saying the main accomplishment of the bill was the establishment of accountability and consistency.

"This bill was not really about the fundamental rights and wrongs about stipends but more about the regulation of student fees and the legitimacy of the ASUC's internal governance," Rowland said.

The bill passed with 15 senators in favor, two abstaining and one opposing.

It will not affect those who currently receive stipends but may shape how money is allocated during the upcoming spring budgeting process.


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