Editorial Board 1998-99
Tonight the University Students' Council will vote on a motion to give the council's sitting legal affairs officer and communications officer a raise.
The motion is being brought forward by USC President Ian Armour and VP-finance Dave Small who feel the motion is justified, based on the amount of work they have seen legal affairs officer Jennifer Quick and communications officer Warren Tilston put into their positions, since they took office.
Under the proposal, both positions would receive a $1,000 pay increase for their honoraria, effective Jan. 1 of this year. This means both Quick and Tilston would be paid $500 more this semester than they were originally supposed to.
While the council's ability to make fair and unbiased decisions is not under debate, the fact is councillors should not be deciding on how much their colleagues or friends should make. By bringing this motion to the council now, members will not be deciding whether the work load for these two positions justifies the pay increase, they will be deciding if Quick's and Tilston's work so far deserves a raise.
Although the officers will each only receive half of the proposed $1,000 increase, this motion will shake students' confidence in the council. Regardless of whether the raise is justifiable, some will see this expenditure as the council's way of rewarding themselves for the "good" work they believe they feel they have done this year.
Traditionally, pay increases for any students working for the USC, volunteer or not, commence at the beginning of the next council's term. This precedent should be followed in this case.
Council should not be debating whether to give a pay increase effective immediately. Council should be debating whether the yet unknown communications and legal affairs officers for next year should be paid more, effective Sept. 1.
Also, if council votes for a pay increase for the two positions, it could start a voyage into the murky waters which separate the designation of volunteer and that of employee. The more these positions are being paid, the less they become voluntary and thus, work by future holders of those titles could be more financially motivated than anything else.
Another cause for concern in the proposal is the fact that future communications and legal affairs officers will be required to work a measly 15 hours per week. At $4,000 for the eight months of the school year, that equation adds up to be more similar to employee status than anything else. If those positions are to get $1,000 more, then those "volunteers" should be putting in a little more than 15 hours per week.