By MacKenzie Herring
The Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) have a senate made up of primarily freshman and sophomore students. As this does not accurately represent the student body, ASLC has been discussing the rate of turnover and is looking into strategies that will incentivize members to return.
At the meeting on Nov. 2, Senator Hannah Posey-Scholl ’20 suggested a raise to the senate stipend in order to encourage senate members to return.
“Since attending senate last year and being on senate so far this year, I’m trying to find a way for senators to want to come back,” Posey-Scholl said. “Both last year and this year I believe I’ve seen an entire new senate.”
The group had briefly discussed both Portland State University’s (PSU) and the University of Portland’s (UP) senate stipend at a meeting in late October. UP allocates $1,000 per year for each senator and PSU allocates $600, while LC allocates $100. Although both university’s student government are not identical to ASLC, the group found issue with the discrepancy.
The representative for the Queer Student Union, Sam Seagren ’19, suggested that the current stipend unfairly impacts students of lower socioeconomic standing.
“If there isn’t a financial incentive to be on senate you’re going to end up with less representation of students who don’t have the time to be on senate because they need to spend their time earning money,” Seagren said.
In contrast, Chief Justice Natalie Sounders ’19 voiced concern over whether or not an increased stipend would attract the right candidates. If candidates are attracted to the position due to the financial incentive, Sounders suggests that members may be less committed.
“Because they see the price tag, it’s not necessarily the people who are the most dedicated and who want to do the job,” Sounders said.
At the end of the meeting the group was conflicted over whether or not the effects of an increased senate stipend would be beneficial or would truly solve the low rate of return.
On Nov. 9, ASLC again discussed an increase in senate stipend but focused largely on the logistics regarding any change to payment.
Student Organizations Coordinator Alden Chatfield ’19 spoke about where the money for an increased stipend would come from and the difficulties of accessing any raise. ASLC currently recieves stipends from the student fee portion of tuition payments that goes towards funding all clubs and activities. Chatfield was worried not only about finding the money, but about doing so in a way that would be fair to other organizations.
“The raise would have to run through the student fee,” Chatfield said. “We couldn’t introduce the payment outside of the traditional structure.”
ASLC also discussed raising the student fee but came to the quick conclusion that it would be very difficult to pass and unfair to the student body.
Reaching an end to the discussion, Senator Quinn Vinlove ’21 stated his opinion that the money senators currently receive is appropriate for the job and that finding senators with passion and dedication could be best done by keeping the stipend at the current amount.
“We’re in here because we’re very passionate about this and I think it would be in our best interest to preserve that,” Vinlove said.
After discussing the stipend at length over the course of two weeks, the organization was not able to reach a conclusion regarding the realistic possibility of raising the stipend. It also still disagreed over whether or not the group should look into a raise any further.