The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Senate rejects stipend bill

At Student Senate’s last meeting of the semester on April 15, the majority of Senate members denied a bill written by Student Body Vice President Jaywin Singh Malhi that proposed to award student body officers a stipend allocated from student senate funds.

Malhi, who is a graduating senior, proposed that SMU grant a financial stipend effective fall of 2018 for $2,500 per year, to be paid in two payments of $1,250, upon successful completion of each semester for each student body officer. Student Body officer positions include the president, vice president and secretary.

Malhi argued student government positions keep officers from gaining other forms of employment during their time in office and argued a stipend for student body officers will serve as an incentive for “talented candidates to pursue
elected office.”

Senator Zane Cavender, also a graduating senior, admitted student government positions are big time commitments, but believes the learning experience is
payment enough.

The bill did not propose student senator officers to receive financial compensation, which Chair Medhi Hami believes would discredit other members of senate who also put in long hours like himself.

After opposition concerning where the stipend funds would come from and how this would affect student senate’s image, Mahli argued that since the stipend would total to $10,000, which is “less than 1 percent of our budget for the year, there will be 99 percent of our funds left for student activities” and referred to the $2,500 as chump change.

Cavender agreed with Senator Carole Finley who made the point that perception is momentous and even if only $10,000 would be taken out of senate funds, SMU students may feel cheated.

Malhi decided to propose this bill in order to spark debate after learning other universities award financial compensation.

According to Senator Forrest and Senator Precious Osuchukwu’s personal research, Texas Christian University, University of Tulsa, University of Miami, George Washington University, University of Southern California, Arizona State University and University of Texas in Austin already award financial compensation for either all student government members or for student government executives, in the form of monthly checks or a semester lump sum used strictly toward tuition.

Although there are many peer and aspirational universities who pay their student government officers, Forrest reminded everyone that there are numerous other universities like Vanderbilt who do not and have never awarded student government officers financial compensation.

Currently, SMU’s finance chair receives $2,450 per year, the webmaster receives $1,200 per year, the comptroller receives $14 per hour and the student body president receives a private scholarship.

Senate Diversity Chair Kimberly Elmazi, who was unaware the finance chair already receives financial compensation until Malhi proposed this bill, questioned whether or not the position should be paid in the first place and claims that the finance chair’s work fails to award any more merit than other committee chair positions.

Ultimately, voting was not unanimous, but the majority agreed that the Student Senate budget was not created to award student body officers stipends and doing so would have a negative impact on the Senate’s perception from fellow students.

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