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By Mark Brown
Last night's University Students' Council meeting turned into a heated debate over whether the USC legal affairs officer and communications officer deserve pay increases and if those increases should be retroactive.
The debate, which consumed most of the meeting, stemmed from a motion proposed by USC President Ian Armour and VP-finance David Small to change the pay structure of the positions and to increase the honoraria a person occupying either of these positions would receive.
In a roll call vote, council voted in favour of an amended policy to increase the honoraria by $1,000 for the legal affairs officer but not to make it retroactive to Jan. 1. However, the motion to increase the pay for the communications officer was defeated by council.
USC legal affairs officer Jennifer Quick said she was not concerned that the motion was not retroactive. "My concern with the motion was not whether it was retroactive or not. My concern was for the position itself."
Quick stressed the importance of the legal affairs officer position to the USC. She added she wanted the value of the position to the corporation to be recognized by the council.
"I'm quite comfortable with my situation. I was well aware of what I got myself into," said Warren Tilston, communications officer, upon hearing the council's decision.
Michael Rubinoff, the undergraduate student representative on the Board of Governors, was one of the most vocal in his opposition to the posted motions. "This is getting absolutely out of control in the office.
"As far as I am concerned this is a bonus," Rubinoff said. He added he cannot justify supporting a motion to increase the honoraria for these positions without first seeing a job report.
A related policy which will affect these two positions also passed last night and comes into effect immediately. The motion suggests a new pay structure for both the legal affairs officer and the communications officer which will give them their honoraria in installments rather than in a lump sum at the end of each semester.
However, council did not realize an amendment was not made to the legal affairs officer's pay schedule which was worded in a way which includes a retroactive $1,000 pay increase, not an increase which comes into effect in May.
"The honorarium won't increase, so the monthly payments won't increase. I think that's how everyone interpreted the motion."
Armour added he was happy with the results of the votes even though one of his motions was defeated. "I just lost a motion to council and I think it's great. I can't be disappointed when democracy reigns.
"It sounds like people were hesitant with the communications officer because they want justification on a new position that was created last year," Armour said, adding people were more comfortable to make a decision regarding the legal affairs officer because the position has been around for a number of years.