Dear SF Foghorn,
I am writing in response to the recent opinion article written in last week’s Foghorn about ASUSF Senate’s Finance Committee and the budget process in order to provide additional information that may prove helpful to your readers.
While I commend the Foghorn on covering such an important topic to students, I found the article to have information that may lead readers toward misunderstandings about the budget process. Below are some points for clarification:
• As with every annual ASUSF budget cycle, the amount requested exceeded the amount available, requiring that each budget be cut in some way. The Committee is in the difficult position of making these decisions based on the proposals submitted in order to submit to ASUSF Senate a balanced budget proposal. ASUSF Senate has authority for final approval.
• The Senate executive stipends were set three years ago, and have been frozen at the same amount since that time. This compensation for Senate executives is on par or lower than many schools. Examples of compensation at other institutions include tuition remission, room, board, priority registration and other benefits in addition to stipends.
• The Senate executive stipends are higher than any other funded account due to the level of responsibility and time requirement. These executives are the leadership for the organization that has the responsibility for student advocacy for all of ASUSF, the undergraduate student population of USF. According to their constitution, at minimum executives must maintain office hours each week (12 for President, 10 for VPs); attend weekly e-board meetings; serve as a mentor to 4-6 senators; lead 1-2 committees of students; and maintain regular communication with constituents and senators. These are the outlined responsibilities and do not include individual responsibilities of each executive, or the initiatives that necessitate advocacy for students. On average, Senate executives work an estimated 20-30 hours/week, not including peak times of year such as the budget season when the Vice President for Business Administration worked approximately 50 hours/week.
• ASUSF Senate has considered several resolutions/proposals this year on issues such as keeping tuition increases low, extending crossroads hours and shuttle service, installation of lockers on campus, continuation of the MUNI Class Pass program, and so on. ASUSF Senate’s productivity should be measured not only by the resolutions passed, but other initiatives as well such as: committee representation/shared governance initiatives; revamped superfund and funded account budget process via Orgsync; funds distributed to support campus life through these two committees; student voice on smoking ban; budget transparency given presentation at Club Presidents Council in Fall 2008; creation of LGBTQ position; climate survey and social justice week; intentional community action process; senator code to ensure accountability; mid-year and year-end performance reviews for executives tied to stipend allocation; use of constituent email messages and revamp of senate website to improve student access to Senate.
On a personal note, I would advocate for higher student stipends across the board for key leadership positions at USF.
At the same time, I think the positions should be seen in the context of wonderful opportunities to gain skills and knowledge, while serving the greater good.
I support the dialogue that is happening between SF Foghorn and ASUSF Senate, and would encourage it to continue in the weeks ahead.
Note: The 2009-10 ASUSF Budget was presented on Tuesday, April 21 at the ASUSF Senate meeting in Xavier Chapel, and will be approved at Senate’s final meeting on May 5.
These are open meetings and all are welcomed to attend.
Dr. Gregory V. Wolcott
Director, Student Leadership and Engagement & Advisor to ASUSF Senate