Stipend bill would encourage greed

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Keene is a senior majoring in public policy, political science and economics.

Last week, a student body officer introduced a bill to the Student Senate that, if passed, would have provided a $1,250 stipend to student body officers for each semester they served.

Luckily, the bill didn’t pass. But the flawed logic possessed by the bill’s author is no less dangerous just because the bill didn’t make it through this year. This bill would have represented student politics at its dirtiest, and would decrease the quality of student body officers significantly.

That the decision over whether or not Student Body Officers are paid lies with the Student Body Officers themselves is just asking for corruption. If they have the power to give themselves a pay increase, they’ve got no reason not to.

There is a reason why the most recent amendment to the U.S. Constitution forces congressional pay increases (also proposed and voted on by members of congress) to take effect only after the next election. This ensures that Congress can’t simply vote themselves into Scrooge-McDuck-sized piles of wealth without the American people getting a chance to kick them out before the pay increase goes into effect.

More importantly, the bill would lead to a lower quality student senate overall. Contrary to the bill’s insistence that “financial awards…incentivize talented candidates,” it would do precisely the opposite. It would encourage students to get involved in student senate leadership for all the wrong reasons.

That senators run simply to add a line to their resume instead of to make the school a better place is a big enough problem now. Adding an additional $2,500 a year incentive would further work against the general improvement of Student Senate. Instead of recruiting “talented candidates,” it would entice greedy candidates, more interested in a hefty paycheck than in tackling the tough issues that face the student body.

If officers remain unpaid, only those most dedicated to the work of the job would consider running. We need more of those candidates, not more candidates in it for themselves and their resumes.

The bill also claims that those elected would be encouraged to work more diligently in their position, but there is no obvious reason why that would be the case. Why would it be? What about a guaranteed paycheck of $1,250 a semester improves performance? The pay isn’t conditional on improved performance, if anything this would encourage even more laziness.

The author points out in the bill that student body officers used to be paid in the past, but this is not a compelling reason to start paying them again now. The university’s budget is tight, and there are many better things to spend spare money on, perhaps even ones that might improve the average student’s college experience.

That senators commit a large portion of time each week in the senate that prevents them from pursuing other career opportunities, and should therefore be paid for their work, is frankly ridiculous. There are many, many benefits to serving in the student body leadership that would far surpass, on a resume, the value of working at some other job.

Like an unpaid internship, serving in senate is an investment promising to pay off in future, better career opportunities.

That is payment enough. This senate had the good sense to vote the bill down, but it could be reintroduced. Hopefully future senates share this good sense.

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