In the midst of this campaign season, the significant power of the Georgetown University Student Association presidential and vice presidential positions have been a topic of campus discussions. Over the past year, the two students filling these positions, Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Connor Rohan (COL ’16), have used their power to create sweeping change on several issues, including sexual assault and mental health. Yet, we should consider the time that is required from these individuals to create significant change. With such a tremendous time commitment, students filling the positions may find it difficult to support themselves monetarily through other paying jobs. Therefore, monetary compensation should be administered in a way that continues to promote the selflessness behind the job.
Students who join GUSA on work-study have taken on the time commitment in exchange for advocating on behalf of the student body. Connor Rohan is a work-study student who decreased his work time to three hours per week as a result of his commitment to GUSA.
However, for positions like president and vice president that carry so much opportunity to reform the campus, students should not have to spend out of their savings or reduce their own costs significantly in order to adequately meet the time requirements of the position. These students should get paid so that they are not deterred from running because of concerns about how they will balance a job and their office duties.
GUSA executives would not be the first students to be paid for taking on a time commitment in service to the university and student body. New Student Orientation coordinators receive D.C. minimum wage — $10.50 an hour — for their work throughout the year. They may be paid up to 15 hours a week for time that they self-report. While the president and vice president already receive a small stipend of $1205 for their work, the stipend cannot always sustain a student’s costs throughout the semester. The costs of providing additional stipends to the executive are relatively small when considered in comparison to five NSO coordinators each receiving up to $157.50 per week.
However, the commitment to advocating on behalf of the student body is a selfless one, and it should remain so. Payment could be limited to students on work-study.
This should be distributed on a monthly basis at minimum to remain in accordance with the work-study limitations that the student must be paid at least once per month. As the extra pay would only be given to students on work-study, it would be partially funded by the government, which would further reduce the costs to the university. The stipend could be administered through the Center for Student Engagement, in a similar way that NSO coordinators receive pay for their work through the CSE.
In the future, the administration may want to consider expanding the pay beyond only students who are on work-study, as many students who do not have work-study rely on income from their on-campus jobs.
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