Forum

Incentives for student leaders should be considered

This year’s student body election for student body vice president for finance (SBVPF) features a 100 percent increase in candidates: from one to two.

In the last election, senior lighting design major Jon Mark ran unopposed, and while he has done a commendable job as the SBVPF, it is clearly in the campus’ best interest that more than one or two candidates run for these important student body positions.

As the official student government website describes, the student body vice president for finance is “the financial representative for the entire undergraduate and graduate student population at Carnegie Mellon.” The SBVPF has extremely important duties that dictate the operation of many crucial student organizations and activities — duties that are too important for a candidate to win by default. This apathy toward crucial student positions also applies to more than just the student body vice president for finance; the competition for student body president is just two tickets this year.

The key to fixing this problem lies with discernible incentives. The heads of student organizations put an extraordinary amount of time to ensure that our campus functions as it should, and this monumental time commitment likely deters many potential candidates.

A system of incentives could attract qualified and dedicated candidates to help run our campus organizations and government, and keep our campus community performing at its best.

While options for incentives are plentiful, one incentive could be payment for serving in positions of leadership. After all, the SBVPF’s assistant is paid while the SBVPF goes unpaid. Payment could motivate students currently compensated for a position to move to higher positions that are currently unpaid.

Another incentive could be units. After all, many of the skills that students learn through leadership positions are also taught in the classroom, including handling finances, drafting proposals, and presenting plans of action to others on campus.

Many qualified candidates hesitate to run for important positions around campus, due to the time commitment of the job.

A system of incentives alone would not remedy this problem, but it could help motivate many of these individuals to take a greater role in our campus community, and reward those who are already devoting a great deal of their time toward campus activities.