A Monetary Incentive for Heart and Soul
It seems absurd to retrace and retract the money that student senators have been collecting since fall 2005, when they had no idea their paychecks were unconstitutional. However, in response to this recent revelation, the Senate referendum is right to examine Senate wages anew. Judging whether or not senators specifically should be fiscally rewarded from the student activity fee is difficult. Senate’s situation must be considered in comparison to the effectiveness of other student organizations, relative to their systems of compensation.
The Student Finance Committee is a perfect example of a disorganized, cumbersome organization with a history of unpaid workers. Although Senate recently passed a provisional stipend for SFC, before now the committee has been relying on inconsistent volunteers with no incentive to tackle the confusion left behind by last year’s disgruntled, unpaid workers. At the start of the semester, with every organization’s budget on hold for scrutiny, the SFC was effectively unresponsive to e-mails, uncoordinated in its varying explanations of what was going on and disorganized in its budget reviews, upsetting many people. Positions on the SFC were subject to nearly 100 percent turnover in the past, suggesting utter frustration with the position. If paychecks offer incentive to organize the disorganized, the SFC is the group that needs them most, and the student body needs SFC.
But the senators’ situation is different. Presumably the student body elects passionate senators who are devoted to acting for the change students want to see but don’t have the time or motivation to pursue themselves. This vote of confidence in each senator’s ability — something that doesn’t apply to the SFC — should instill a sense of responsibility in the senator to act on the wishes of a critical student body. Nonetheless, the argument still holds that senators need monetary incentive to work hard and effectively. In order to ensure that the best senator be elected and not just the senators who can afford not to get paid, payment is necessary.
Any organization that is accountable to the student body must run efficiently, and paychecks foster healthy competition and provide incentive for hard work. However, in light of the excessive amount of work each of these organizations at Oberlin has proven to require, no payment system should be uncapped. Organizations that fail to complete their assigned tasks in a reasonable amount of time should not be rewarded for the seemingly endless hours spent producing no visible results. This creates a disincentive to efficiency, defeating the purpose of monetary compensation in the first place. Alternatively, stipends encourage students to complete more work in less time.
The stipend system currently outlined by the constitution for Senate does not take into consideration the often varying amount of work put in by each senator, and it therefore is not as effective as hourly wages in compensating senators fairly. Currently, Senate is hoping to get quorum on hourly wages, but there is no cap on the amount of hours they can bill.
The capped wage should not exceed 12 hours’ worth of work per week — the highest stipend the Review compensates, though it routinely takes far more hours to produce a weekly paper. It is only right that the members of our student government are held to the same standard of efficacy as the other student organizations of this institution.Editorials are the responsibility of the Review editorial board—the Editors-in-Chief, Managing Editor and Commentary Editor—and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the Review.