Published: Friday, April 20, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2012 15:04
She was crying in the hallway after she found out.
Lyndon State College’s Student Government Association financial controller Julie Austin was the only executive board member not given compensation for her work this year. The three other members of the SGA executive board were given half of the compensation they asked for.
President Nick Russo, Vice President Sean Siciliano, and Administrative Vice President Meghan Dolyak received compensation for their work with the student government. Originally all four executive board members requested one thousand dollar stipends, and three elective representatives requested fifty-dollar stipends.
Two and a half hours of discussion, and eight separate votes later the SGA came to this agreement by a 42 to 15 vote. Haley Craig made the final motion. Craig said she thought that the amount was a good middle ground after other payment numbers were thrown around.
Austin was taken out of the compensation discussion after Alyssa Sylvia brought up that Austin had said she would not seek compensation when running for financial controller last year. She changed her mind when she found out how much work was involved. She was upset not to be compensated for the hard work she puts in.
Russo has mixed feelings about the result.
"I was not disappointed necessarily in the outcome so much as I was disappointed in the way it happened. The students at Lyndon State College got to see first hand tonight what it is like to be in Washington, D.C. where people are kind of all about their own opinions and not necessarily about what they really think is best for the greater good. I am very thankful that they decided to give us any money at all. I don't think they had the right motivations behind not giving compensation to [Austin]. I think she was the most deserving of it and it was a real shame she was not compensated."
Some of the motions that failed included the full amount for all four executive board members, 1,000 dollars for each. Both a motion to “move on” and a motion to give the board nothing were thrown out and failed. Rachel Keller motioned to give the full 1,000 to Russo, Siciliano, and Dolyak. Torrance Gaucher suggested Russo, Siciliano, and Dolyak get 600 dollars each, When that failed, Adam Norton motioned for the three to only receive 200 dollars each, and had a separate motion for them to receive 375 dollars each.
It came down to how much this year’s executive board deserves, if any. Many students at the meeting were uncertain the board should receive anything because they volunteered for the job. Amanda Curran, SGA class of 2014 representative, says that every one of her peers that she has talked to was against the stipend completely. Tyler Dumont, a writer for the Critic, made the point that politicians from small towns don’t expect pay, and that he would never accept pay because not only is being an elective representative a good experience, but that he was there because he wants to be there.
Justin Chenette says, “When you volunteer to run for office, you make a commitment for service above self. While I appreciate the reduction in the amount after two years of fighting, my dissatisfaction of the SGA continues. We need leaders that are more concerned with moving this campus forward rather than receiving a bonus check.”
The point was also brought up that this executive board has not been successful in representing the student body outside of SGA.
Not everybody was against the stipend however. Former SGA president John Kleinhans assured the group that the executive board puts in many hours behind the scenes.
Associate Dean for Student Affairs Jonathan Davis says the Lyndon SGA executive board is the most dedicated of all the college student governments he has seen. He laid out some points for why they deserved payment.
Each of the executive board members is required to work five office hours per week. Davis said that Russo not only maintains his five hours, he played an active role in the new food service search, and went above and beyond helping out clubs. Siciliano put in a lot of effort during the club fair, he does a lot for web maintenance on the SGA site and updates the calendar, and has done a lot of work for spring day this year. Dolyak does lots of work making sure the SGA website is user friendly, making sure all the clubs are represented, she makes sure everybody knows the contact information of the clubs, and has done a lot of work for the leadership conference. Austin makes sure everybody knows about the business office, she helps with club budgeting and troubleshooting when it comes to club funds.