Being elected to a student body executive position can come at great personal cost. Campaigns can be expensive and exhausting, and the work is long, unpaid hours. Make no mistake about it, we’ve both taken on significant financial burdens to serve the student body the way we have this year.
For this reason, we have introduced legislation which develops a campaign fund for candidates and also sets caps on what candidates can spend. On our campus, anyone should be able to serve the student body.
If members of student government do their jobs well, then they spend a lot of time doing them. In the end, however, we’re still students. We have tests to take, assignments to complete, and papers to write. Being a student leader should not entail choosing school or leadership.
Burnout from “self-sacrifice” doesn’t help anyone. The “student” in student government ought to come first. Our new legislation hopes to address this concern. We’re proposing both a campaign fund and a small stipend for elected executives.
Does this mean we should give our student body leaders a lot of money? Of course not. We did the job for free. So will others. But under the present system, you’re always going to have a narrow field of contenders, and that isn’t how things should be.
Why do you think it’s so difficult to get people to participate in student government? For starters, it’s a thankless job. The student body should value our student government. Executive pay sends a message that student government is important, and that its leaders are expected to be hard-working and accountable. GSA and several other great student organizations pay executives with activities fee money, and for good reason.
Executive salaries would encourage quality and accountability in student government. Money talks, and no one knows this better than Carnegie Mellon students. Students should hold execs accountable, scrutinize them carefully, and reward them for their service. If the leaders aren’t doing a good job, they’re out of here. After all, the students are paying them.
We’ve had a great experience serving as your executives for this year; we got a lot done —mixed-gender housing, TartansRec Program, and TartansWiki, just to name a few! But we think student government can, and should, do more than that. Our legislation is a first step. Next year, you should run. That will be one step more. Thanks for a great year.