Image is everything.
At least that's the adage the University Students' Council decided to follow Wednesday night when they made the wrong decision for the wrong reasons as they passed their 1997-98 budget.
The controversy surrounded the proposal to raise the USC president's salary from its current rate of $20,957 to $24,000. Council voted by a slim margin of 25-23 against the pay raise.
The question is: Why?
The simple answer appearance.
It's no secret but by the amount of people who showed up at a recent rally it might just be the council have been actively pressuring Western's administration to freeze tuition fee increases. And on the surface, the decision to increase a student fee in the name of a pay raise may seem a tad hypocritical. That's on the surface.
The reality is that the idea of increasing the USC president's salary to $24,000 a year was not a raise, but rather a recognition of past inadequacies in compensation for the job.
For the amount of time and work the USC president puts in on the job, even $24,000 doesn't seem like enough. However, we all know that's not what drives students to run for the position.
But it doesn't hurt.
Student representation should not be prompted by financial reimbursement. However, there are two other factors which must be considered.
First comes the idea that you make the pay fair for the job. While $24,000 is still probably not enough, the poverty line would be a nice line to cross.
Secondly and most importantly an increase in pay might help make the job more attractive to a greater number of students. As it is, by the very nature of the pay scale some students may not be able to take the position, while others may pass it up for a better-paid position. A single parent certainly couldn't afford to do the job. Nor could any poorer individual who didn't live at home.
There's always an argument that financial situation shouldn't hamper one's ability to get into university. Shouldn't the same argument apply for the presidency of the students' council?
The president and by extension the vice-presidents are not normal students. How many students are responsible for a $13 million corporation and for representing students' interests to governments and the administration? How many students are sacrificing a year of their life (either scholastically or in the work force) in the name of student government?
Timing was of the essence here. If this motion came up at the beginning of the year it may have passed with little discussion. But instead of seeing the increase on its own merits the councillors lumped it in with other events which overshadowed what was the right thing to do.