Money well spent

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At first glance, paying the Student Senate, Elections Board, Judicial Board and two executive branch positions seems like it would cost a lot of money. With 25 voting members and three nonvoting members in the Senate, each being paid about $200 a month, several thousand dollars would be paid to the senators every month.

Yet, it’s only fair that the Senate is compensated for its work within student government. Compared to the millions of dollars that students pay in student fees each year, the stipend is a small drop in the bucket, especially if it pays for itself by producing a more efficient and effective student government.

The decision to make these positions paid will not increase the amount of fees that students pay, so everyone wins.

Besides, it’s about time that PSU starts rewarding these positions for their hard work. Many schools across the country pay their Senate a monthly stipend, including the University of Oregon.

It is well worth the cost to provide checks and balances that were missing with the 2007-08 student government. Last year, President Rudy Soto made the unfavorable decision to spend $5,150.72 on an office remodel that led to debates about whether he should be impeached or not.

Not only was a considerable amount of student fees wasted on a small portion of the student body, but it also consumed the government’s time on dealing with possible disciplinary actions rather than discussing student affairs. Even though Soto was not impeached, it’s hard not to wonder what opportunities the student body may have missed out on due to the lack of checks and balances that would have prevented such spendthrift.

According to the ASPSU Web site, the Student Senate is responsible for approving the student fee budget, confirming appointments, constitutional revisions and the ASPSU budget, as well as ASPSU bylaws and guidelines. Any branch of government that has deciding power over how our student fees are spent should be revered and rewarded for their responsibility. Their twice-monthly meetings are open to the public, so you’re welcome to watch their hard work firsthand.

With all branches of the government functioning properly due to monetary compensation, hopefully unwise choices can be avoided in the future. With all of the divisions, not just some of them, receiving a salary, a sense of equality will be established that was missing last year.

When people are paid for their service, they typically are more engaged and dedicated than if they are volunteering. They are more apt to feel as though they are a vital part of the team and also don’t have to worry as much about an after-school job that takes time away from their government duties. It is essential to have these positions filled in order to have a well-rounded perspective of PSU and ideas on improvement that will benefit the student body.

Current student body President Hannah Fisher reinforces this opinion. “Now more students will have the opportunity to advocate for themselves and others. When the position was unpaid, those who could not afford to work for free were disenfranchised from advocacy,” Fisher said.

But things are looking up in the ASPSU office.

“We have already seen increased activism in the Senate. Not only are they meeting and making quorum two to four times a month this summer, but they have already run successful campaigns. They protested and provided testimony at city hall and are currently working on the concern of a student who came to a Senate meeting and told the senators about a waste of student fees in regard to $7,000 of tricycles for the children’s center that have been locked away,” Fisher said, giving a few examples at how the PSU Student Senate contributes to the vitality of the school.

In sum, Fisher believes, “When there is an active Senate who is able to advocate for the student body, everyone benefits. What they have already accomplished is an example of what is to come.”

It is exciting to see such positive strides forward when the 2008-09 school year hasn’t even officially started yet. Hopefully, it is an omen of good things to come.

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