Student organization leaders compensated more than local peers

Student leaders of the University’s most influential student organizations are compensated substantially more than their counterparts at other D.C.-area colleges, according to figures from a top University administrator.

Student executives of the Program Board, Marvin Center Governing Board, Student Association, WRGW, and The Cherry Tree yearbook receive University-funded leadership awards in the form of merit scholarships credited to their student accounts. The Student Association president receives a $15,000 scholarship while the student government presidents at American and Georgetown universities receive $8,500 and $1,000, respectively.

“As an act of recognition and compensation, these University awards range from $3,000 to $15,000 for an academic year,” Assistant Vice President of Student and Academic Support Services Helen Cannaday Saulny said.

The $3,000 scholarships, sponsored by the Board of Trustees’ Joint Committee on Faculty and Staff, are awarded to applicants who demonstrate leadership on campus. According to the Student Financial Assistance Web site, other larger awards are given to elected student officials as well as the mascot and members of the pep band and dance, cheerleading and debate teams.

Saulny said the motivation behind giving generous scholarships to student leaders is to ensure qualified and motivated students aren’t deterred from running for the positions due to financial concerns.

“Given the time commitment in discharging the duties of these positions, students often have to give up employment opportunities or choose not to run based on the need to earn funds to meet educational expenses,” Saulny said.

SA President-elect and current Executive Vice President Jason Lifton said the presidency was a serious time commitment, similar to the number of hours a week estimated by students at other universities. According to the bylaws of American’s student government, the president must submit timesheets confirming a minimum of 18 hours worked per week to receive his or her compensation. Of the total $8,500, $5,000 is given for working 20 hours per week throughout the summer.

“I don’t run for this position for the money,” Lifton said. “It’s hard to not have a job as a college student and the scholarship does help with the burden of GW’s incredibly high tuition.”

SA President Julie Bindelglass, a junior, declined to comment for this article.

The origin of the leadership awards differs between universities. Georgetown Student Association President Calen Angert said his compensation is provided directly from the university, similar to GW. Andy MacCracken, President of American University’s Student Government, said his stipend is generated from student fee money.

Managers of Maryland’s and Georgetown’s student radio stations are unpaid. GT Wrobel, manager of WGTB at Georgetown, estimated that he spent between 5 and 15 hours per week working for the station with no compensation. At GW, the WRGW station manager receives a $15,000 scholarship.

The yearbook editor at Catholic University is unpaid and the University of Maryland does not provide the compensation given to its yearbook staffers. American’s yearbook editor in chief receives a stipend of $2,700, less than one fifth the $15,000 awarded to editor in chief of The Cherry Tree.

The executive vice chair of Program Board receives a $7,500 scholarship. Wesley Callahan, the current vice chair declined to discuss his award “upon direction from [the Student Activities Center,” which oversees all student organizations on campus, including Program Board. Callahan has been elected next year’s executive chair of Program Board, and that position receives a $15,000 scholarship, Saulny said.

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