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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Executives scold ASUA senators for stipend vote

    ASUA senators Stephen Wallace (left) a pre-physiology sophomore, and Bryan Baker, a history and education junior, listen to discussion during the weekly ASUA Senate meeting last night in the Tubac room of the SUMC.
    ASUA senators Stephen Wallace (left) a pre-physiology sophomore, and Bryan Baker, a history and education junior, listen to discussion during the weekly ASUA Senate meeting last night in the Tubac room of the SUMC.

    After over a half hour of heated discussion, failed votes and a compromise the executive vice president called “”arbitrary,”” incoming senators know next year’s pay – for now.

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona decided on a $1,400-per-senator stipend for next year’s class at last night’s weekly meeting at the Student Union Memorial Center. The stipend is $100 less than the amount current senators make.

    Although yesterday’s vote has already been finalized, the senate may revisit and possibly change the stipend during next week’s meeting. With six challenged votes, it was ASUA’s most divided senate meeting in three years.

    After the vote, ASUA Executive Vice President Jessica Anderson chided the senate for their behavior during the decision-making process.

    “”I’m disappointed in the decisions today; I’m disappointed with the research the last two weeks – you were given two weeks to understand all the changes that were proposed, and there has been so much fluctuation just in this meeting, I know that a lot of it wasn’t sincere,”” Anderson told the senators. “”I honestly think it deserves to be reconsidered next week, because … I don’t think enough thought was given to any one of the votes.””

    The fundamental difference that spurred the senate debate focused on how senators should view the stipend. Some felt that lowering the stipend to $1,300 was necessary in the current state of financial uncertainty. Those wanting the amount to stay at $1,500 said that if the stipend was lowered, senators might not be able to live off the amount.

    Students contemplating a bid for the Senate may think twice once they see that the stipend is “”extremely low,”” said Sen. Bryan Baker. “”Literally, to be on senate last semester, I had to work at Highland Market – just so many things, just so I could buy groceries.””

    In addition, a senate candidacy may only be possible if the stipend pays for their expenses, he added.

    Sen. Jimmy MacKenzie countered Baker’s comments, saying that being a senator is about service, not stipends.

    “”When you run for senate, money should not be an issue to you,”” said MacKenzie said. “”I didn’t know there was a stipend when I ran for senate.””

    Sen. Matthew Ellis echoed MacKenzie’s sentiments, saying that the stipend should never be thought of as a substitute for revenue needed to live.

    “”We all ran for this position to advocate for students to make a change on campus, not for the stipend,”” Ellis said. “”The stipend shouldn’t be a means to support yourself. It never was.””

    Perhaps the reason some senators were against keeping the stipends at the current amount was due to their individual financial backgrounds, Baker said.

    “”Two senators now have said that they didn’t – and I say this in all respect because you guys are my friends, but they’ve said that they, you know – the Senate stipend is a bonus for them,”” said Baker. “”That’s because they, and I myself, were born into families where it doesn’t matter.””

    After a motion to change the stipend to $1,300 failed, the Senate voted on a compromise that was meant to satisfy both those advocating the current amount and Senators wanting to lower it $200.

    “”You set it to $1,400 because it’s higher than 13, lower than 15, but there was no actual reason for picking that number,”” Anderson told her colleagues. “”It is an important and symbolic change, and if you’re going to decrease it, it should be for the right reason.””

    ASUA President Tommy Bruce was also on hand to tell the senate what he thought of the stipend vote.

    “”It’s important to understand that a stipend does not define you as a senator, does not define an elected position,”” he said. “”No amount in this entire office can pay for anybody’s education, can make sure people can live and afford to have a normal day-to-day life. It’s just not the reality.””

    In order to give back to the students and show that being a senator is not about the money, Sen. Stephen Wallace, who was re-elected to a second term, will donate $100 of his stipend back to ASUA.

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