AS Senate Passes Stipend Increase for Senators and AVPs in Fall Budget

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The Associated Students at UCSD (ASUCSD) Senate finalized their fall budget on October 21 during their weekly Zoom meeting. This meeting featured two key changes: an increase in senator stipends from $20 to $40 per week, and an additional 4 weeks of pay for the  current Associate Vice President (AVP) stipends in order to compensate the AVPs for work completed during the summer months.

The motion to increase senator stipends from $20 to $40 per week was introduced by Sixth College Senator Zaccary Bradt. According to Bradt, the increase in weekly Senator stipends will increase the budget for the overall 2020-2021 school year by $25,600.

AVP of Health and Well-being, Isaac Lara, initially objected to this measure, due to concerns over a lack of accountability measures in place.

Manu Agni, AVP of Transportation and Transformation told The Triton, “I think that going from $20 per week to $40 per week is reasonable considering the amount of work that they are expected to put in and I think that with that, and this is the really important piece, I want more accountability measures, so that senators who do not do their jobs [have]  their pay cut.”

According to Social Sciences Senator Jamila Francisco, this increase in senator stipends will  improve the accessibility of participation in student government.

“If the students don’t have the recourse to be able to participate in student government, then the only people you have leftover are those from wealthy backgrounds, maybe they have financial support from their parents and they can’t understand the difficulty of a lot of students. I know quite a large percentage of our students have Pell grants [or] they have financial aid. I think it [the Senate] needs to be a good representation of what our student population actually looks like,” said Francisco.

The motion to increase senator stipends from $20 per week to $40 per week passed 20-0, with 1 member of the senate abstaining from voting.

The motion to award all of junior AVPs four additional weeks of pay for their work over the summer months was proposed by Lara. The senior AVP of concerts and events and the senior AVP of student organizations were also awarded 1 week of additional pay.

According to Nicholas Butler, the Associated Students Financial Controller, this motion will increase the budget for the overall 2020-2021 school year by $4,300.

Senior AVPs are expected to work more hours during the week and manage larger staffs than typical AVPs. The senior AVP of student advocacy was not included in this because they have already received additional compensation via  the spring budget. 

The AVPs are technically not expected to complete any AS work during the summer months, and thus do not usually receive compensation during these months. However, they often complete AS related work regardless. 

As the AVP of health and wellbeing, Lara was expected to complete much more work than a typical summer because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“I think that  work happens every summer but because of how rapidly things were changing on campus… we [the AVPs] and other members of AS needed to be in those spaces where decisions were being made. I think that is what made the AVP backpay worth it,” said Agni.

According to Lara, the AVPs tracked their hours over the summer months in an effort to evaluate whether or not it was reasonable to request additional pay for their work over the summer.

Though the standing rules for senate worktimes do outline 20 hours minimum per week, that is meant for the quarter. During the summer, according to Lara, “about every single AVP worked about 20 hours minimum [per week]…We [have] never worked that much during the summer before.”

The Biological Sciences Senator, Mihir Pandya, initially objected to this motion, citing concerns over lack of communication between some of the AVP offices and the Senate, but ultimately allowed this motion to proceed to a vote.

The motion to award all of junior AVPs, including the senior AVP of concerts and events and the senior AVP of student organizations four additional weeks of pay for their work over the summer months passed 21-0 with 3 members of the senate abstaining from voting.

According to Bradt, the funds needed to facilitate these changes to the budget were available due to the limited campus events held this semester.

While the 4 additional weeks of pay for the AVPs were only approved for this academic year, the increase in senator stipends will remain in place for the upcoming academic years.

“The Senate stipends should still be able to be covered by the annual collection of the student activity fee, as it increases slightly every year for inflation, while these stipends have been stuck at the same level for several years,” said Bradt.

Although the senate approved these changes to their fall budget, these changes still need to be finalized before any of the aforementioned parties receive the additional compensation proposed in these motions.

According to Butler, the increase in compensation for these members of AS have been submitted to Human Resources and are currently under review. 

Sarah Naughten is a staff writer for The Triton.