SU commissioners discuss pay raises

By Jon Roe

Is it time for more bucks for the Students’ Union bang?

The SU is looking at their policy for paying commissioners. Under review is the maximum honorarium each commissioner can be paid per month and the policy for reduced compensation for late reports. Currently, commissioners can be paid an honorarium of up to $400 per month and, if the commissioners’ monthly reports are late, they receive no honorarium.

The four vice-presidents read commissioners’ monthly reports to determine the honorarium each commissioner will receive, based on criteria like Student Legislative Council attendance, committee work and general SU participation. All of the reports are then reviewed by the president to ensure there is fairness across the different commissions.

A new policy, brought before the SLC Wed., Nov. 14, increased the maximum honorarium to $500 and introduced a tiered pay-reduction system for late reports. The increase would take effect in the 2008-09 term and wouldn’t result in an increase in fees.

However, the new policy didn’t make it past SLC after a split council and it was referred back to committee. The policy is expected to return to be voted on in SLC in January.

SU president Julie Bogle was opposed to increasing the maximum honorarium.

“Three years ago it was raised from $300 to $400,” said Bogle in the Nov. 14 meeting. “I personally feel this is a little premature.”

Vice-president events Richard Freeman was part of the discussions to raise the honorarium three years ago. Freeman, who served as an events commissioner in the 2004-05 academic year, highlighted some of the previous concerns in the Nov. 14 meeting.

“There was a lot of arguments [three years ago] that we shouldn’t be putting it up because of gravy train elected officials would be getting even more money for doing just as little work,” said Freeman. “It was pointed out: this is $500 and this is discretionary.”

Commissioners took home an average of $317 per month during the months of Sep. and Oct. In total, for the entirety of the 2006-07 term, commissioners made $3,300 on average.

“This is just setting the bar one level higher,” said Freeman in the Nov. 14 meeting. “It’s the maximum, not everyone will always get it.”

Freeman was supportive of increasing the maximum honorarium, noting that the increase would make the SU an attractive and viable option for students.

Kent Hawkins, a two-time events commissioner from 1999 to 2001, said he never did the job for the honorarium. Hawkins was a full-time student while serving on the SU and worked a part time job.

“[The honorarium] definitely wasn’t my motivation, I was just excited to be involved with the school community,” said Hawkins.

However, Hawkins noted he thought the increase was worth all the work commissioners do for the good of the students.

The late reports policy was also under discussion. Currently, if a commissioner hands in their monthly report late, they receive no honorarium for the month.

Academic commissioner Megan Martin felt the current late report policy was unfair.

“While it’s not unreasonable to expect people to submit reports on time, if the SU is planning on working on a corporate model, it’s not generally acceptable in the corporate world to not pay people for work that’s done,” said Martin. “We present the SU with the work that we’ve done, I think it’s fair that we get docked if we don’t submit on time, but to refuse payment for work that is done I think is just draconian.”

External commissioner Phil Hunter felt that students wouldn’t support increasing the maximum honorarium for commissioners.

“I think we have to look at it as, ‘would the students support their money going towards elected officials making more money?’” Hunter said in the Nov. 14 SLC meeting. “I don’t think that they would support it. That’s the way we should approach it.”

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