MSA ups leaders’ stipends

Still, the group’s total expenses come in at about $13,000 less than last year’s spending.

Speaker of the Forum, Junior William Damman, kicks off MSAs first meeting of the school year on Tuesday evening.

Image by Melissa Scharf

Speaker of the Forum, Junior William Damman, kicks off MSA’s first meeting of the school year on Tuesday evening.

by Erik Newland

The Minnesota Student Association voted Tuesday to increase staff stipends following concerns that members weren’t being paid enough.
At its first meeting of the semester, the undergraduate student government approved a budget that includes $44,000 for stipends, an increase of $6,750 from the amount dedicated to stipends in last year’s budget. Stipends for positions like chief of staff and chief financial officer increased this year.
The total expenditure of $164,400 was passed with little debate and reflected the group’s intent to shift focus from holding events to advocating for certain issues like mental health, President Joelle Stangler said during the meeting. Last year’s expenses totaled $177,450.
Without stipends, leadership positions in the student government wouldn’t be available to people who would need that time to work a different job, she said at the meeting. 
Despite a motion and discussion to increase Stangler’s pay, stipends for both Stangler and MSA Vice President Abeer Syedah will remain at $5,000 and $4,000, respectively.
Nearly all of the group’s money will come from student services fees, like last year — the total allocation is about $160,000. Students taking six or more credits must pay the $430.51 fee this semester.
“We are not a programming organization,” Stangler said during the budget presentation. “If we do programming, it should be mission-driven.”
She said she would like to see the amount of money MSA grants to student groups reduced. She said it makes more sense for the University of Minnesota to give money to Student Unions and Activities for that purpose.
Student groups didn’t use all the grant money they budgeted for last year, Stangler said. This year, MSA is reducing the event-budget grants it provides to student groups.
“If I could decrease them down to zero, I would,” she said at the meeting.
The group’s grants committee received $60,000 this year, an increase of $2,000 more than the previous year, in part due to a new special sponsorship grant program where MSA members work with partners including student groups. 
MSA also elected members to the Internal Management Committee to review the performance of MSA’s staff members who receive stipends.
The next MSA meeting will be held Sept. 29, where elections for vacant at-large representative positions will occur.