By Cindy Szelag
Staff Writer for The Baylor Lariat
A recent survey of the salaries of student government leaders in universities across the country has started a debate on whether or not campus leaders should be compensated.
According to the 'Student Government Salary Survey' conducted by Student Leader Magazine, 70 percent of all schools surveyed compensate their student leaders in some way. Eighty-eight percent of state universities pay their officers in some form, while only 46 percent of private universities offer compensation for student government officials.
Of the 150 schools who responded to the survey, 72 were public, 52 were private and 26 were community colleges.
According to the survey, the highest paid student government officials attend the private University of Miami, where the Student Government president receives a $19,140 tuition scholarship. In the public college and university category, Washington State University's Associated Students president receives a salary of $15,643 per year.
Student Congress has an annual budget of $32,000. The student body president, internal vice president and external vice president each receive six hours of tuition per semester, said Gannon Sims, a Conroe junior and student body president.
In addition, these officers receive their own offices and a special parking permit. They still have to pay for the parking permit like any other student, Sims said, but it has a bar code that allows them to park in the 15-minute parking area outside of the Bill Daniel Student Center.
Student Congress also has one laptop computer that is used during meetings for minutes and budget information. The laptop is a new addition this year, Sims said.
Dub Oliver, director of student activities, said the officers have been given tuition compensation for at least the past 10 years.
However, last year there were four offices who received the tuition, Oliver said. The student body president and vice president each received the six hours, and the secretary and treasurer each received three.
This year, the positions of secretary and treasurer have been combined to form the position of external vice president. The tuition hours have also been combined, so the external vice president receives six hours also, Oliver said.
According to the results, the Student Government Association at Texas A&M University has an annual budget of $300,000. The officers do not get any compensation other than special parking spaces, which they still have to pay for.
Rice University's Student Association has an annual budget of $40,000 to $50,000, according to the results of the survey. Its officers do not receive any compensation either.
Three officers of the Student Government Association at Texas Tech University are salaried. The annual budget of the Student Government Association is $92,000. The president and two vice-presidents are given a check every month, adding up to $6,000 a year. These three officers also receive free parking spaces, the survey said.
At the University of Texas, the Student Government Association annual budget is $71,830, according to the survey. The president is paid $4,000 and the vice-president $2,500 per year, plus tuition waivers. The financial and executive director is paid $2,000 per year.
Sims said he thinks the tuition waiver offered by Baylor is a fair method of compensation for student government leaders. The president and vice-president are required to work twelve hours a week, although they usually work more.
'I think the method of payment that we receive is very gracious, and it is earned,' Sims said.
He also said he does not agree with the payment of salaries to leaders at other universities.
'Most of the people from state schools are salaried, and I don't think that's appropriate at all,' Sims said. 'Sure, you're working for students, but I think you have to remember that you are a student.'
Oliver said there is always the danger of students seeking the positions just for the money.
'I think the essential thing is, if you're going to call it a student leadership position, it needs to be free of doing it just for the compensation,' Oliver said.
However, he did not think Baylor's compensation for leaders was excessive. Oliver said one reason Baylor's Student Congress officers deserve the tuition credit is because they are required to attend classes full-time.
'There are some universities where the student body president only takes one class,' Oliver said. 'It ceases to be a student leadership position if you're doing a job full-time and going to school part-time.'
Baylor's student body officers also have to maintain a grade point average of 2.5, Oliver said. Because of this, the payment does not overshadow the academic performance of the students.
'The academic enterprise of the institution is pre-eminent,' Oliver said.
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