Student Government’s recent passing of a bill that would provide a payment to hard-working members is a misstep, especially during a time of financial crisis for USF. While educational programs face dissolution, students struggle to find classes amid the newly redesigned schedules and everyone copes with the ever-atrocious parking situation, SG is rewarding its members for doing their jobs.
SG senators passed a bill in an 11-8 vote that would allow members to receive $150 or a gift of equivalent value for the fall and spring semesters, paid for by Activity and Service (A&S) fees. Some senators said the opportunity for members in good standing to receive a monetary reward for hard work and dedication would motivate SG senators to be more involved in activities, ultimately benefiting the student body. Other senators said the incentive would be a misallocation of funds and compromise the integrity of SG.
I have to agree with the latter.
Being an SG senator undoubtedly requires a major commitment. There are painstakingly dull – and frequent – meetings to attend in addition to the responsibility of managing a budget totaling more than $10 million. But that does not mean members deserve any kind of reward for participating and fulfilling the duties of their positions.
Student organization leaders bear a very similar burden to that of the senators (minus the SG’s mega-money budget). They figure out how to accomplish their needs on a budget, organize events, promote activities and ultimately lead a group of people for what they feel will benefit the student body.
By volunteering to participate in a leadership capacity – as SG members do – it is implicit that such involvement is a trade-off of hard work and dedication for the ability to directly impact USF and its students. To ask for a financial reward for performing these duties is like asking for a check after volunteering for the Salvation Army – it undermines the value of the contribution.
The reward will come out of students’ pockets. A&S fees are included as part of every student’s tuition every semester and funds most of the projects approved by SG. Students do not have a say in what the Senate approves to use the money for, but they should have a say in whether or not to reward them for it.
“We should be here for the students,” Sen. Charles Sherrard said during a debate over the bill in Tuesday’s SG meeting. “There’s a lot of better things we can do with the money than give it to ourselves.”
There is also the issue of whether or not the payment will actually change the quality of SG. Supporters of the bill are calling it an incentive that would create a better student Senate and improve SG’s effectiveness. However – as any professor could preach – presence does not beget effectiveness, and having SG members who show up for meetings and log dispassionate work hours does not equal a more productive Senate.
As Sen. Peter Baker said, “the desire to do something would be misplaced” and muddied by the possibility of financial return. Trying to motivate senators to work by using money or gifts is basically a bribe to make up for indifference that could be better spent helping students.
Renee Sessions is a senior majoring in creative writing.