The Undergraduate Student Government does the student body a great service in many respects: Members of the organization work around the clock to keep students informed and involved and Program Board, which is nestled under USG, successfully brings a variety of compelling events and high-profile speakers to campus.
But one matter that needs examining in light of the USG election is internal spending within the organization. Last year, the USG president made about $11,000 while USG vice president made just under $9,000 for the academic year. Senators each made about $2,000 and Program Board and USG directors made about $4,500.
The Daily Trojan believes USG and Program Board senior members should receive proper compensation for the long hours they spend working to better student life. We do not, however, believe the current amount of internal spending on salaries is the most effective way to use USG funds. Even considering that all salaried members are active, current spending seems excessive for an organization with a $2 million annual budget; it seems that many of these annual stipends could be reduced and still adequately compensate our representatives.
USG already has an impetus to carefully evaluate some of its finances in light of administrative changes in the past year. For example, Program Board might need an increase in funds because the university’s new security policy means more security staff will likely be hired for larger events, such as Springfest. Because programming directly impacts students most immediately, it should continue be a priority for USG as a whole, especially in light of reorganizing internal spending.
Meanwhile, USG should also examine how involvement and action are factored into pay within its various departments.Senior members of USG have access to university officials in a way that is unique and important, and there is no doubt that the continued efforts of USG members will lead to impactful results in the near future and beyond. But across-the-board salaries for USG members, particularly senators and directors, might not be optimal if there are significant differences in the time and effort given between individuals. Though all USG members play an important role, it would be beneficial to assess whether each individual’s salary appropriately correlates to tangible results.
The current system also potentially brings other problems, including creating an incentive for students to run for positions or get involved because of the salary and privileges, which include frequent contact with high-level university administration that no other students come close to having. Student leaders should obviously take on USG roles to serve the undergraduate population, and service requires sacrifice. Certainly, members of USG sacrifice their time, but their work should be compensated in a way that still optimizes overall spending, especially when their salaries are funded by the student population at large.
Regardless of who wins this year’s election, the new president and vice president should seriously re-evaluate USG’s spending. Undergraduate students pay $57.50 each semester for USG. As much of that money as possible should go back to the students, and internal reform could help USG reach new heights in upcoming years.
Staff editorials are determined by the senior editorial board. Its members include Eddie Kim, Rachel Bracker, Daniel Rothberg and Sheridan Watson.