Debate begins over compensation for DePauw Student Government officials


Student Body President, senior Sara Scully and Student Body Vice President, senior Mark Fadel are proposing a constitutional amendment involving the DePauw Student Government.
Starting next year, select student government officials working on the executive board of DSG may be offered financial compensation.
According to Scully and Fadel, this isn't a novel idea; student government officials in past administrations have suggested financial compensation. After experiencing their student government positions for a full year now, Scully and Fadel felt comfortable spearheading this initiative as a proactive topic of conversation on campus.
"The idea is forming as we're talking about it," Scully said. "We don't have exact details, so we want as much feedback as we can get. We want this to be a back and forth, give and take conversation on campus."
Many schools similar to DePauw offer financial compensation for student government officials. The amount of time and responsibility that comes with an executive position doesn't allow for certain students to apply for a position on DSG because responsibilities such as work study or an outside job sometimes have to come first. According to Fadel, offering financial compensation for a student governmental position may increase the amount of students who are able to apply.
"Offering financial compensation might allow for great candidates to run for positionswho have otherwise had hesitations that prevented them from running before," Fadel said.
The addition of this new amendment may give student executive positions a more official nature, as being paid may imply that the position should be taken as seriously as any other job a student can hold.
Of course, there is always the possibility that the constructive principles behind this new amendment would be overlooked; students may run for the wrong reasons, which would make the idea backfire.
Scully and Fadel expressed these concerns, however, their faith in the student body remains strong.
"It goes to a vote of 120 students that are meant to represent an opinion of the student body," Scully said. "Of course this will be controversial, but we trust that our system will yield the decision that's best for our campus community."
Controversial it is. Judging from the comments that the assembly members gave after the last assembly meeting, Scully and Fadel report that opinions on this matter are very strong and equally split.
As a method of considering the new amendment, student assembly member junior Stuart Newstat points out the realities of other organizations on campus in comparison to student government.
"If you look at different organizations on campus, their executives get paid," Newstat said. "The student government members are constantly working and doing things for the student body. I don't doubt that they have the right to be paid as well."
According to Scully and Fadel, controversial topics are the reason DSG holds debates, and why they put amendments up to a vote. For a constitutional amendment like this to pass, there needs to be a two-thirds majority vote within all groups of students including the senate chamber, the representative chamber and the general assembly.
The funding for the executive board's financial compensation wouldn't be raised, but rather, would be taken from the student activities fund.
Generally speaking, both Scully and Fadel want the campus community, especially the potential candidates for the positions, to recognize that this is a demanding job. Neither one of them is necessarily on either side; the purpose of proposing this new amendment is to keep on improving the quality of student government.
"Our positions are to present this - not to vote on it ourselves," Scully said. "We have no stake in it. We're purely looking out for the future of these positions."