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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Senators debate merit of raising their pay

    ASUA Sen. Jared Cohen tries to convince his fellow senators to consider lowering their pay for next year during their meeting yesterday in the Agave Room of the Student Union Memorial Center.
    ASUA Sen. Jared Cohen tries to convince his fellow senators to consider lowering their pay for next year during their meeting yesterday in the Agave Room of the Student Union Memorial Center.

    In a split vote that included harsh words of disappointment from some senators yesterday, the ASUA Senate approved a stipend proposal that will continue to give $1,500 to each senator next school year.

    The proposal passed with a 6-3 vote. Sens. Jared Cohen, Amanda Collins and Seema Patel strongly opposed the proposal, instead opting for senators to make $1,100.

    Sen. Lauren Abbott was not in attendance to vote. Sen. Dustin Cox was also absent, but his vote was carried by Sen. Amy Drapkin.

    Drapkin feared that lowering the stipends would hurt diversity in the senate. Fewer students would run for Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate in the future, since they would not be paid as much to compensate for senate work, she said.

    “”There’s no way I can have a job with this position right now. It’s just not feasible,”” Drapkin said. “”I think a lot of others would agree.””

    Cohen disagreed and said senators should examine all avenues, including taking on a second job to pay for personal expenses while not forgetting why the senate is there in the first place, he said.

    “”We’re here for the students. We’re not here to get paid ourselves,”” Cohen said. “”If you’re looking for compensation for everything you do in life, you’re going to come up short on everything.””

    Lowering the stipends would not just affect senators. It would save ASUA $4,000 that could be used to fund programs and clubs that need the money, Patel said.

    “”We were talking about the people who wouldn’t be able to run because the stipends would be lowered,”” she said. “”But I’m worried about the other students. I’m really disappointed about that.””

    Since money saved by lowering the stipend would probably be distributed evenly among programs, the amount would not be noticeable enough to fund events that otherwise would not be funded, said Sen. Jason Ernst.

    The approval of a lower stipend would cause students seeking a senate position to give up on their chances. People who would have been beneficial additions to ASUA would instead stay with their previous jobs, said Sen. Mark Copoulos.

    “”I know ASUA has been accused in the past of being this elitist organization that doesn’t really represent the students,”” he said. “”And we’re falling right into that trap.””

    Copoulos followed up his concerns with an anecdotal example as evidence of why it is so important to keep the stipend at its current level.

    “”Maybe some day, some kid is going to walk into that ASUA office who’s fed up with the realities of this campus who would like to be an ASUA senator. He’s going to look at it, and he’s going to say, ‘Oh, you know what? I can’t afford to be a senator, because I have to make tacos at Café Sonora, and I have to, you know, work my desk assistant job,”” Copoulos said. “”That kid in Café Sonora deserves a position here.””

    If senators were able to get by on their lowered $1,100 stipends, they may be forced to cut down on their amount of ASUA work, Drapkin said.

    UA students have elected a competent group of senators for next year that will do their duty without attention to stipend amount, Ernst said.

    “”I don’t think cutting their stipends will make them work less,”” he said.

    Once ASUA starts lowering stipends, it is a slippery slope that can have dire consequences in the form of a continuous drop in stipends each year, Drapkin said.

    Drapkin’s argument that lowering the stipend would cause a multi-year negative chain reaction is flawed, Cohen said.

    It is pure speculation that should not affect how they vote this year, he added.

    “”We are not in a position to judge what direction the stipends are going to go after this year,”” Cohen said. “”That’s not what we’re here to talk about.””

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