SGA president looks toward compensation for members

Chris Whitmore (left), Student Government Association (SGA) vice president, and Michael Grosch, SGA president, meet with the rest of the SGA board on Tuesday, Aug. 28. Grosch plans to discuss the idea of SGA member compensation soon. PHOTO BY MEGAN FAVIGNANO.

Michael Grosch, Student Government Association (SGA) president, wants members of SGA’s executive board to be compensated for their time and work.

As members of SGA, students have weekly meetings that last a couple hours. They also sit on SGA committees, which meet in addition to SGA’s weekly meeting. Along with this, student leaders have to work with other departments and administrators.

“SGA can be a lot of work. Giving members some sort of compensation would be helpful on several levels,” Grosch said. “We’ve had several members have to resign or not apply for SGA because they don’t have the time to invest because they are always working, trying to pay their tuition.”

At the spring 2012 Officers’ Summit, Grosch said another SGA student suggested the Delegates’ Agenda take on the task of making SGA positions paid. Grosch said that recommendation really sparked the idea of something he and his colleagues could accomplish.

John Ginsburg, director of the University Center and student activities and SGA adviser, said the idea has been brought up in the past, but no one has taken much action.

“It’s challenging to develop a proposal to do that. It’s never been done,” Ginsburg said. “I think students of SGA have been intimidated to get that started or just didn’t know how to navigate the system.”

Christopher Venable served as sergeant-at-arms for SGA in spring 2012. He said he heard the topic come up a few times during his term on SGA. Venable didn’t completely disagree with the idea, but he had some concerns about making paid SGA positions for students.

“Whenever you add an incentive to any sort of leadership role, you have to make sure to safeguard against people who are in it for the incentive rather than the position,” Venable said.

Ginsburg said one of the biggest challenges would be determining who would supervise SGA members to ensure they are doing the appropriate amount of work. He said when the proposal is created with that in mind, it’s easier to hold people accountable.

While it’s difficult to determine who is running for the right reasons and who is running for the wrong reasons, Ginsburg said he hopes voting students would be able to choose the proper candidate during the election. He believes a pay incentive would give students who normally wouldn’t run for SGA positions the incentive to do so.

“There may be some people not running because they think they’re too busy, but if SGA can replace one of their employment positions, then they have an opportunity they didn’t have before,” Ginsburg said.  “And I think more people running is a good thing. In any election, if you have a bunch of positions running unopposed, no one is going to vote.”

Grosch had the same idea in mind when he thought about proposing paid positions. He said historically, it’s been difficult for SGA to keep all the positions filled. Students wouldn’t run for them, or they would drop out later because of their busy work schedules.

“They are all important positions that can’t be gotten rid of, but they need their seats filled,” Grosch said. “Being paid will certainly be a nice incentive for someone to campaign for a position.”

To move forward with this proposition, SGA has to research schools with paid SGA members to see how it works for them. Once this occurs, Grosch wants to tailor Webster’s proposition to meet the unique needs of its students.

The general body of SGA would vote on the idea once research is gathered and a proposition is created. Then it must go through the administration for approval. It can be a long process, but it’s one Grosch plans on putting into action.

“I think people have tried in the past and then moved on or forgot about it,” Grosch said. “One of the things I promised as I campaigned was ‘Follow Through’. This is what I want to do different. This will be the year SGA takes action.”

Grosch has been doing most of the research and work himself over the summer, so he has yet to receive much input from other SGA members. His plan is to ensure all positions get some kind of compensation for their work.

Most of the details are still in the research phase, but Grosch expects a finished proposition either by the end of the school year, if not by the end of the fall semester. If the decision to have paid positions for SGA would be made, it wouldn’t go into effect until next school year at the earliest, Ginsburg said.

“You don’t want to vote to pay yourself,” Ginsburg said. “If you end up getting elected into a position next year and get to be a part of it, well that’s sort of just the way it works.”

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