Committee members’ new stipend brings controversy

Some say stipends won’t help the process, but could do just the opposite.

JP Leider

Even though members of the Student Services Fees committee will receive stipends for the first time ever this year, University expectations haven’t changed.

Jerry Rinehart, associate vice provost for student affairs, said that while stipends helped draw more interest to the process, the committee has seldom had problems with student dedication.

“Occasionally, there may be a slipup, but by and large, the quality of the student committee member participation hasn’t been a real issue,” he said.

The fees committee decides how $22 million in Student Services Fees will be awarded to various student groups and administrative organizations.

For an estimated 50 hours of service on the committee come spring semester, the University will pay $500 to general members and alternates, $600 to subcommittee chairpersons and $750 to chairs.

Staff committee members will not receive stipends.

The creation of stipends, along with several other major changes to the fees process, came out of an advisory committee commissioned by Rinehart after last spring’s controversial fees process, where he overturned several committee recommendations.

Some advisory committee members argued creating stipends would encourage students and allow more to apply for committee membership.

This fall, almost three times as many students applied to the committee as last year.

Rinehart said stipends might help students think of the fees committee as a job, but they mainly exist to recognize the large sacrifices students make to help the University with the fees process.

Steve Wang, a former Student Services Fees chairman, said that while stipends won’t increase expectations of members, he expects the general public and fellow committee members will watch the students more closely.

“Because of the fact that they’re getting paid, people will be more critical of what the committee does,” he said.

Committee members should realize they will be carefully watched, Wang said, and should take a larger role in being responsible students, because the fees process is “a pretty serious charge.”

While those involved in the fees process have expressed satisfaction with the record number of applicants this year, some, like former fees committee member Aaron Solem, said stipends might do more harm than good.

Solem said stipends won’t help the process, but could possibly do just the opposite.

“Before, when you had volunteers, you had people who really cared and knew what was going on about the process,” he said. “You always had the most involved students, the students who knew what was going on.

“Now you’re just getting a bunch of kids who possibly might mail it in because they’re getting paid $500.”