Up on the Bluff: LUCC Stipends

Alan Duff

It’s that time of year again, where debates addressing the deficit and spending ceiling between Republicans and Democrats begin. Simple solutions are nowhere to be found, and compromises are, while inevitable, going to involve solutions that don’t directly affect Congress.

It makes sense. Why would a bunch of millionaires vote to raise taxes on themselves? Why would they cut their expensive and generous Congressional pensions to trim a bit of the deficit? Unfortunately, a similar situation can be seen with the Lawrence University Community Council, where all of the representatives and officers are paid to do their voluntary, elected positions.

According to the Student Handbook, top-ranking officers are paid between 170 to 130 dollars per term, elected representatives 50 dollars a term and committee chairs 30 dollars a term.

The one stipulation is that they attend two-thirds of their meetings. This means that a representative could theoretically attend as few as three meetings and claim to have done their duties to get their honoraria.

They are, it should be noted, the only student-run organization that has elected members, which are paid a fixed stipend with our tuition money. Apparently it’s easy to justify a salary when you control the checkbook.

Though Lawrence isn’t currently facing the deficit issue the government is, members of LUCC shouldn’t think of themselves as more deserving of a paycheck for doing their elected work because they have the means to give themselves money without oversight.

Picture the following situation: There’s a club on campus; let’s say it’s the Lawrence University Male Performers Yachting Club, aka the LUMPY Club. They decide that they would like to award payments to all their officers for services rendered during the school year equal to the amounts that LUCC officers receive.

Assuming they have a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Public Relations Officer, that would total to 1,860 dollars a year awarded to the officers of LUMPY, a fraction of what LUCC awards itsofficers each year.

Now imagine if every student-run organization on campus were to then ask for the same treatment. The costs would be ridiculous. It doesn’t seem unfair to ask that student officers be awarded the same amount that our LUCC representatives are, with little to no oversight.

This of course would never happen. LUMPY, upon requesting funds from LUCC Student Finance Committee for the purpose of paying their officers would immediately be assaulted with a battery of questions.

Why would paying the officers of your organization benefit the Lawrence Community? Why do you deserve to be paid for performance yachting you like to do on behalf of a student organization? Why is there so little oversight with these payments? What’s the point of all theserhetorical questions anyway?

Something needs to be done to fix this. The simplest and fairest way to solve this problem would be for LUCC to strip themselves of their payments through the steering committee and amend the Handbook.

If an argument is made that LUCC officers go above and beyond the typical student organizational workload, that is a legitimate consideration, but I want oversight in place to ensure that an officer can’t just sit down at a meeting, mumble a bit and then be paid for it.

If theyfind this idea too unsettling, then additional checks should be put into place that ensure they have to work to get paid. By asking representatives to clock hours, and be paid only for time they spend outside of meetings, with a cap on payments they can receive, this could be done. Not only would it not affect representatives who are doing their work, but it would also encourage lazy officers to do their duty.

I like to imagine that our campus isn’t so divided that our LUCC is as dysfunctional as Congress-I have yet to see a two-party system originate between some make believe divide between the Con and the College, the arts and the sciences or the Wisconsinites and those darned Southerners.

Hopefully, with a bit of prodding and pushing by students, LUCC will reconsider the payments they receive, and if not remove them, at least make the officers more accountable if they wish to receive their money.