Senators present plan to change member stipends

Undergraduate Student Government Senator Kate Oh and Executive Director of the Academic Culture Assembly Luis Vidalon-Suzuki presented a plan to change the way stipends are determined for USG members at the Senate meeting on Tuesday.

The stipend is the compensation students receive for serving as an elected or appointed USG official. Under Title X, all USG officials are currently paid by a predetermined stipend that is specific to their position. Oh and Vidalon-Suzuki proposed to pay all USG officials by an hourly rate, determined by the minimum wage of Los Angeles County. In 2018, minimum wage is expected to increase to $13.25 per hour.

According to Oh and Vidalon-Suzuki, the proposal is part of an effort to make USG more accessible to students, especially those who cannot afford to take an unpaid position or a position that is not at least minimum wage.

“Right now, USG boasts about being diverse and being accessible to students, but it clearly isn’t,” Vidalon-Suzuki said.

While next year’s administration has complete discretion over how to allocate funds if the new stipend system is passed, USG Vice President Austin Dunn stressed that a joint effort between the current administration and next year’s administration will be vital to its success.

The cost of the new stipend program will fluctuate per year, depending on the number of USG members elected. However, Vidalon-Suzuki estimated that the program will call for $54,489 more than the current budget. If the new stipend system is passed, the USG President’s salary will decrease by about $2,000, and the USG Vice President’s salary will decrease by about $845.

“During the [USG] Presidential election, accessibility and having students [in USG who] reflect the student body were hot topics,” Vidalon-Suzuki said. “We think this is a perfect way to do so.”

The proposal will be voted on at next week’s USG meeting.