The Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Senate recently met to discuss a possible extension of stipends to all senators, a privilege currently limited to the President, Vice President for Finance, and Senate Secretary. The subcommittee on stipends met Thursday, March 21 in order to review the possible implications of expanding stipends and to establish a basic blueprint for a proposal to initiate the stipends for the next academic year. The subcommittee will be compiling a comprehensive proposal and presenting it to Senate for approval in the next few weeks.
While deliberation continues, ASPC President Sarah Appelbaum PO ’13 said that, as a goal, it was important for her to leave stipends as a legacy for next year’s Senate.
“It’s an important issue for me because I personally experienced the impact it had on my schedule being on Senate last year and being President this year. I know that for some, being on Senate would be prohibitive because they can’t necessarily afford to not work,” Appelbaum said.
The ASPC president currently receives a stipend of $1,500 annually, while the Vice President for Finance and secretary are paid annual stipends of around $1,000, although their stipends are officially determined by the Budget Committee at the annual budget hearings. Currently, the subcommittee is considering stipends of between $500 to $800 dollars for each of the twelve uncompensated senators, with a total new cost between $6,500 and $10,500. All current and proposed stipends are funded by ASPC.
According to Appelbaum, she and Vice President for Finance Faye Wang PO ’13 have proposed using the funds previously allocated to Metate, the now defunct Pomona yearbook, in order to offset the cost of stipends.
“The priority for us is to not impact clubs and other student groups. We think that by possibly using money that before was allotted to Metate we will be able to prevent that from occurring,” Appelbaum said.
The debt incurred by Metate currently stands at around $30,000. The yearbook annually received $16,000 in order to insure its publication, but now that ASPC has terminated its publication, Appelbaum said that they are considering using some of that money to begin providing senators with stipends.
The subcommittee also proposed possibly using ASPC’s reserve funds for the first few years to fund stipends while using the $16,000 to pay back Metate’s debts and then proceeding to codify stipend expenses in the budget.
Appelbaum believes that it is important to compensate the labor of the senators, especially given the political and fiscal autonomy of ASPC.
“I think there is also a historical significance in having ASPC be distinct from the college,” Appelbaum said. “It changes the power dynamics when a student is employed by the college.”
First-year Class President and subcommittee member Nico Kass PO ’16 sees the proposed stipends as just compensation for the work that senators put in.
“There’s the thought that people will decide to join Senate for the money, but that’s just not going to happen. The most we could possibly be paid is $800 a year, and that’s nowhere near what we could be paid for doing any other job,” Kass said.
Scripps Associated Students (SAS) President Emily Jovais SC ’13 said she can see both sides of the issue.
“I go back and forth. You don’t do this job for the money, but on the other hand, it does take away the ability to have another job on campus. Also, giving people a stipend increases accountability. You know you’re getting paid for it,” Jovais said.
None of the proposed stipends would be implemented until next year at the earliest.
“Some senators have expressed concerns over making a decision to benefit ourselves, but Faye and I have done most of the research into this, and both of us are graduating next year. Also, all current senators would have to go through the election process again. Even with a stipend, being on Senate is not lucrative,” Appelbaum said.
Senate’s current compensation policies are fairly standard in comparison to other 5C student governments. SAS provides its president with an annual, taxable stipend of $1,800 and its two treasurers with $900 each.
“The original idea was to pay the president and treasurers the equivalency of the maximum work allotment earnings,” Jovais said.
Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College continues to pay its president $7,000 annually, an amount that is matched by the CMC Dean of Students Office to a total of $14,000 each year, a number that dwarfs the stipends earned by corresponding student government leaders at the other 5Cs.