Guest Viewpoint

(Maisie Plew/Emerald)

For many years the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) has employed a policy providing stipends for student organization leaders. This stipend is not compensation for hourly labor, and never has been, but rather an incentive and small reward for those students dedicating personal time to lead extracurricular activities within the college community. Student organizations are essential for a successful and well-rounded college experience; the University of Oregon would not be the same without them. This is why ASUO has prioritized student organization leadership stipends in its budget for years — in fact, the University of Oregon is the only university who has such a policy. That's right. We are the only university who pays its student organization leaders.

ASUO is baffled as to why this is not common policy across American universities, but it provides us an opportunity to lead and set a national precedent of how to treat student organizations. It also fulfills  another promise made over the summer to increase student organization stipends.  

Opportunity comes with responsibility. And to ensure the precedent ASUO sets will lead other universities to effective policy decisions, an interbranch workgroup was formed to evaluate and recommend changes to the current stipend model. The driving force behind the workgroup was their mission to increase access to leadership and ensure ASUO engages in equitable use of the I-Fee. The I-Fee is accumulated from payment that every student makes to fund ASUO and its programs, such as LTD Transit, student organizations, legal assistance, and many of the services you find in the EMU. The recommendation from this workgroup’s analysis and policy creation is a new model to calculate a respective organizations stipend amount. The proposal has been given the name TOSS (Tiered Organizational Stipend System).  

The key flaw found in the current model is how stipend amounts are calculated solely on the basis of clubs’ budget and size. The TOSS workgroup found this inequitable. 

Many student organizations are dedicated to invoking strides of communal activity across campus that may not have a large club base compared to others — like our multicultural organizations for instance. Because the current model does not allow ASUO to consider campus impact, the amount of programming an organization facilitates, and community reach in its stipend calculation model many essential clubs have been under-stipended; while some larger clubs have engaged in perfunctory spending just to retain their large stipend which, again, is the sole factor used to calculator clubs stipend amount. TOSS fixes this issue.

The TOSS model is composed of four tiers in which a student organization may be categorized, along with different stipend distribution options that clubs can individually select, each tier carrying different qualifications and minimum/maximum stipend limits. ASUO prioritizes transparency, and we want to give you the most accurate and clear information possible. Below, the differences between tiers and how your student organization is categorized will be explored.

Tiers

Categorization 

Tier 1

An organization with little involvement with the greater student body. 


Organizations in Tier 1 hosts meetings and events primarily on club focus. Little oversight by ASUO, no requirement to submit bylaws, does not need to have an elected leadership or complete the PFC budget process. This tier is designed for Student Organizations that have yet to complete six months as an organization but are required to have at least five members and to send at least one leader to all ASUO Program Council meetings and other required workshops. Organizations are allowed to immediately apply for ASUO recognition. This tier does not have an individualized budget but can access the ASUO Surplus. No stipend for leadership.

Tier 2

An organization with some involvement with the greater student body. 


Organizations in Tier 2 advertise meetings and programs to the entire student body and hold at least two regularly scheduled organization meetings a month. 


ASUO oversight for Tier 2 mandates bylaw submission, an elected and structured leadership team, attendance of a leader to all ASUO Program Council meetings and other required workshops, and completion of the PFC budget process. This tier has an individualized budget and can access additional funds through the ASUO Surplus. There is no stipend for leadership. If a student organization requires membership dues, tier 2 is the highest tier that is accessible to their organization. 

Tier 3

An organization with steady involvement with the greater student body. In order to access this tier, a student organization must have proven to use a budget for at least a year and have at least $500 in programming. 


Organizations in Tier 3 must advertise meetings and events to the entire student body and hold at least two regularly scheduled organization meetings a month. Organizations also must coordinate at least 3 programs targeted and advertised to a broader audience beyond consistent club members. This tier has an individualized budget and can access ASUO Surplus if needed. 


ASUO oversight for Tier 3 mandates bylaw submission, an elected and structured leadership team, attendance of a leader to all ASUO Program Council meetings and other required workshops, completion of the PFC budget process, and submitting an end-of-the-year progress report. Elections for the leadership team must be overseen by a designated ASUO position. Student Organizations in this tier can receive stipends for up to 3 elected leadership members.

Tier 4

An organization with high involvement with the greater student body. In order to access this tier, a student organization must have proven to use a budget for at least a year, have planned at least 4 programs in the previous year, and have at least $500 in programming. 

Organizations in Tier 4 advertise meetings and events to the entire student body and hold at least two regularly scheduled organization meetings a month. Organizations in Tier 4 must coordinate at least 4 programs targeted and advertised to a broader audience beyond consistent club members. 2 of the programs must service at least 40 students and/or an additional 20 people than the consistent members at 2 programs and/or 1 program that serves at least 100 students. This tier has an individualized budget and can access ASUO Surplus if needed. 


ASUO oversight for Tier 4 mandates bylaw submission, an elected and structured leadership team, attendance of a leader to all ASUO Program Council meetings and other required workshops, completion of the PFC budget process, and submitting an end-of-the-year progress report. Elections for the leadership team must be overseen by a designated ASUO position. Student Organizations in this tier can receive stipends for up to five elected leadership members.

Stipend organizations will individually choose one of four distribution options below to best fit their club needs and vision:

Tier 3 Stipends 

Option 1

  1. President $230

  2. Vice President $185

  3. Treasurer $185

  4. Total Sum: $600

Option 2

  1. Co- President $215

  2. Co- President $215

  3. Treasurer $170

Total Sum: $600

Option 3

  1. Co- President $200

  2. Co- President $200

  3. Co-President $200

Total Sum: $600

Option 4: Organizations may have up to six stipend positions in Tier 3, these positions will still receive a total of $600 monthly to be equally dispersed among all positions at the discretion of PFC. Organizations must provide position descriptions of each of the stipend positions including daily, weekly, monthly and term-related tasks for each position so that PFC can allocate the stipend amounts.

Notes: Numbers are monthly, options are based on student organization choice. Student organizations in Tier 3 choosing Options 1, 2, or 3 do not need to present stipend role descriptions, but must present descriptions if choosing option 4. Tier 3 organizations must have at least three stipend positions allocated during the budget process, if positions are not filled during the year then funding stays in the account. 

 

Tier 4 Stipends

Option 1

  1. President $230

  2. Vice President $220

  3. Treasurer $220

  4. Open Position $215

  5. Open Position $215

Total Sum: $1100

Option 2

  1. Co-President $230

  2. Co-President $230

  3. Treasurer $220

  4. Open Position $210

  5. Open Position $210

Total Sum: $1100

Option 3

  1. Co-President $220

  2. Co-President $220

  3. Treasurer $220

  4. Open Position $220

  5. Open Position $220

Total Sum: $1100

Option 4: Organizations may have up toeight stipend positions in Tier 4, these positions will still receive a total of $1100 monthly to be equally dispersed among all positions at the discretion of PFC. Organizations must provide position descriptions of each of the stipend positions including daily, weekly, monthly and term-related tasks for each position so that PFC can allocate the stipend amounts. 

Notes: Numbers are monthly, options are based on student organization choice. Student organizations in Tier 4 must provide stipend descriptions for the two open positions if choosing Option 1,2, or 3, and must provide descriptions for all positions if choosing option 4. Tier 4 organizations must have at least five stipend positions allocated during the budget process, if positions are not filled during the year then funding stays in the account. 

If you are a part of a student organization — whether you are a part of its leadership or not — it is important for you to fully read the chart above. It is what will be used during your organization's budget hearing to determine if your organization will receive leadership stipends, and if so how much. 

Again, we would like to stress that stipend amounts are not compensation for labor, nor are they meant to reflect the amount of hours a student organization leader puts into their organization. It is also a separate model and logic used to calculate ASUO stipends. ASUO leaders are elected by and serve the entire student body, have weekly work hour requirements and cannot falter in their commitment to the student body or risk losing their position.

Student organization stipends have been, and will continue to be under TOSS, funded by the I-Fee — also used to fund ASUO’s stipends. The I-Fee is conceived through payment from every student, not just a specific constituency, and ASUO believes the use of these funds should reflect such; the I-Fee should be used to engage and create opportunities for the entire student body. Tier 3 and 4 reflect this, awarding higher stipends to organizations who advertise meetings and programs to the entire student body. 

In the upcoming months, student organizations will have an opportunity to put themselves into a tier they see as most reflective during their standard Program Finance Committee (PFC) budget hearing for the 2022-23 school year. Since budgets and stipends are set one year in advance, TOSS will become fully integrated by next Fall. 

ASUO understands that organizations were required to halt many of their activities due to COVID. To mitigate furthering this impact PFC will be analyzing programming and meetings from years past, as well as future plans, while formally categorizing a club — PFC highly encourages clubs to consider the same factors during self categorization.

In addition to fairly utilizing the I-Fee, TOSS increases accountability for both ASUO and student organizations. Clubs will be required to track meetings and events through Engage, keeping a record of the level of outreach and achieved benchmarks. This allows both ASUO and the club to receive the accurate designation and stipend amount, and gives clubs who are attempting to raise their stipend a progress report.  

In the past ten years club recognition required an array of qualifications to earn recognition: exist for six months, proof of five meetings with over five attendants and have a complete executive board. Recognition allows access to the ASUO surplus and stipends as well as vital resources for clubs attempting to grow, but ASUO has heard many complaints that earning club recognition is too difficult. TOSS makes club recognition much more accessible, and turns recognition into a designator for a club attempting to grow, rather than proof a club has grown.

All tiers come with recognition. Therefore the minimum to become ASUO recognized, and enter tier one, a club only needs proof of five members and a mission statement. This allows even the smallest clubs access to greater funds in order to help their vision flourish.

TOSS’s allocation of stipends increases the total funds doled out to student organizations. This, coupled with the stipend increase for ASUO officials, will currently raise student’s I-Fee by 3.3%. ASUO understands asking any student to pay more for their already encumbering college fees is a serious matter. This is only occurring because we, the ASUO Executive, strongly believe this will create more opportunities for student organizations and will open more paths towards leadership. An increase of this size has been standard for each school year.

This new model comes with a vision, a vision that greatly outweighs and justifies an I-Fee increase. As clubs attempt to move up the tiers, campus will become even more effervescent. More campus wide activities representing fabulous interests and identities will flourish into our weekly college experience. Clubs deserve to benefit from this effort, an effort that benefits the entire campus community.     

If you have any questions regarding this change, please contact ASUO’s Communication Director Sam Simonett at asuocomm@uoregon.edu.

Sincerely,

The ASUO Executive