ASUO to reform stipend model to encourage student leadership

ASUO Executive checked off one box on their bucket list this week — Senate unanimously voted to pass the official stipend model reform at the meeting on Oct. 28.

Upon entering the office last year, ASUO Executives made it clear that the stipend model was problematic. The team made the reformation of the model one of its main goals. Over the summer, a committee lead by ASUO Finance Director Shawn Stevenson drafted a new model for the stipend and recently presented it to the Senate as well as student groups.

Stevenson, who has background working as one of the members of Program Finance Committee, said last year the committee felt strongly that the current stipend model is no longer appropriate with the growth of student groups.

“We really want to create a system to better the situation,” Stevenson said. “[This model] will allow an increased subsidy on campus.”

Student leadership stipend allocations are based on the funding level of a student group. Executive said it feels that it’s not fair for some newer groups who have small funding but are still making a big difference in the community, Stevenson said.

According to the stipend model last year, only ASUO recognized programs with at least $1,250 got stipend money for its leadership roles. By adding Class Zero, which identifies programs with funding from $500 to $1,250, ASUO will be able to pay stipend money for up to two leadership positions for new programs.

Senator Jason Selby, among other senators, supported the new model. He also mentioned UNICEF, a student group re-founded in March 2014 that has done many campaigns that exceeded its minimum funding, and said the model will benefit the program tremendously.

Asian Culture Communication Association was the only student group showed up at the stipend model forum on Oct. 23. Its president, Gaoyang Cheng, was curious about the changes but content to know that ACCA will not be affected.

“It’s good that leaders in smaller groups can get some stipend too,” Cheng said. “It’ll encourage them to grow even more.”

The reformed stipend model also classifies several outgrowing groups into a new category: Class Five. Four groups that exceed their services on campus, including the Women’s Center, Safe Ride, Designated Driver Shuttle and Multicultural Center are the only groups with at least $100,000 in funding on campus.

“What the model did is to give them a choice to ask for one new position each year,” Stevenson said.

The senate also voted to pass departments under Department Finance Committee to be considered Class Five on Wednesday. Stevenson said at the meeting that ASUO doesn’t fund educational departments, therefore it cannot pay stipends for teaching assistants.

Some of the departments that can benefit from the new model include the Campus Zero Waste Program, Holden Leadership Center, Oregon Athletic Bands and Mills International Center.

In an interview earlier this year, ASUO President Helena Schlegel told the Emerald the reform is to assure student leaders “that they don’t have to make tough choices about whether to take on campus roles that may be vital to their personal growth.”

PFC will have the power to decide stipends for qualified groups and programs with a ⅔ vote of whether they can get additional paid leadership positions.

The reformed stipend model also ensures the stipend money for each position has to be in the range of $50 to $250 a month. Stevenson said ASUO wants to encourage the leadership positions, but the stipends are not meant to substitute a living wage.

“That’s why we also edit out any hiring language,” he said. “We want to make sure that stipend is not equal staff pay. It is to compensate student leaderships.”

The Senate also voted to dispense stipends monthly to programs and senators; it will also allow an individual to hold at most two stipend positions at the same time.


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Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen