No raise for prez in budget
By Karena Walter
What started as a budget proposal for the 1997-98 school year turned into a full-fledged debate last night as the University Students' Council narrowly rejected an increase in the president's salary from $20,947 to $24,000.
In a secret-ballot vote, council moved by a 25-23 margin that the salary remain the same as this year and only increase with inflation.
An amendment to the budget was proposed by Brad Johnston, a social science representative, who suggested increasing the salary with the cost of living was a more acceptable raise.
VP-finance Chris Keith said the costs involved in Board member jobs are not reflected. VPs must take at least one course and their pay must be in line with other schools, he said.
"I don't think being a VP or president entitled them to a better lifestyle than what's enjoyed by the average student," Geoff Van Hartan, part-time and mature students' representative, said. He compared the money given to the Board with that of students on OSAP.
"I think we may be hurting the accessibility of VP or president positions," said VP-communications Jerry Topolski. He said that students with a dependent may not be able to afford to take the job.
Education representative Jason Oyston spoke in favour of the increase and as a former VP-finance at Wilfrid Laurier University said Western's council is responsible for a much larger budget. He added CEOs in the real business world would be paid far more than the council president.
But Scott Sullivan, VP-student affairs, spoke in favour of the amended motion and said the USC should be viewed not as a corporation but as a council. "I'd love it, but I don't need it to live," he said. "What's right for us is to take a salary that can get us through the year not live like kings." He added Board members get the benefit of putting their experience on a resumé.
"People would do this job if you gave them $5,000," Saugeen-Maitland Hall representative Justin LaLonde said, but he added the money should be given to compensate the Board for doing effective jobs.
The secret ballot was then met with some opposition from councillors. "How can councillors be accountable to their constituents?" Van Harten said. "It's a way for councillors to cop-out."
The amendment to freeze the president's salary but add for the cost of living was upheld, but the VPs will be allowed up to $1,000 in benefits to pay for tuition and books. About $0.25 per student will be collected to cover this cost. VPs will also be earning 98.5 per cent of the president's $21,282 salary.
Student fees were originally slated to be $242.79 for the 1997-98 year but will be dropped down $1.21 because the pay increase was not passed.