By Jacob Solis
Heated debate over senator pay ends with much ado about nothing
There was plenty of back and forth on Wednesday evening as the senate of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada debated two bills that would substantially change how ASUN senators are paid.
At the moment, senators receive their money at the end of the semester as a stipend, in one lump sum. That sum is equal to the cost of six undergraduate credits, as per the ASUN constitution. One of the bills proposed on Wednesday would have more than doubled that sum from six credits to 14.
Now, senators can only change their own pay by legislation if the student body approves the raise via a ballot measure. ASUN senators got that ballot approval back in 2008, when students overwhelmingly passed the measure with 73 percent of the vote. However, even though the senate has been able to raise its pay for eight years, each and every session has declined to do so with reasons ranging from simple forgetfulness to simply not wanting to, according to ASUN President Caden Fabbi.
The other bill on the table that night would have removed the stipend altogether, replacing it with a wage. Thus, instead of tying senator pay to tuition costs, it would instead be fixed to whatever Nevada’s minimum wage is. For reference, that number is currently $8.25 per hour. On top of this, however, the number of hours a senator could theoretically be paid for per week would be capped at 10.
It was this particular provision that sparked the debate.
The issue at hand for more than one senator at the table was that many elected officials within ASUN work more than one job as an employee of the university. If this second measure were to pass, that would, by amending ASUN law in the Statutes of the Associated Students, cap a senator’s hours across all their university jobs at 10 hours per week, even if they work more hours in actuality.
The crux of the debate was that many elected officials within ASUN work other jobs on campus. Limiting all these officials to 10 hours a week would, in the eyes of some senators, turn away students from wanting to be a senator at all. Thus an amendment was proposed that would have done away with the cap, at least partially.
However, federal law mandates that student workers be allowed to work no more than 25 hours per week, as studies have shown an inverse relationship between grades in school and hours spent working. This point was made by Sandy Rodriguez and James Beattie, director and associate director for student engagement, respectively.
On top of that, the argument was made by Sen. Jacob Boult of the College of Liberal Arts that being a senator was a public service. As such, the money was not what mattered so much as the duty.
With that argument in mind, the senate voted down both bills.
Jacob Solis can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.