Volume 93, Issue 18

Thursday, September 29, 1999


Councillor asks for student vote on pay

Cola deal foes flat at U of T

Pot charges put on shelf by crown

Toronto police prevent march to take back night


Buzz Mecca

Caught on campus

Councillor asks for student vote on pay

By John Intini
Gazette Staff

Pay increases to Western's council leaders will be at the top of the agenda at tonight's University Students' Council meeting.

Ray Novak, a social sciences councillor, will be raising a motion which calls for a student referendum on any salary increase for the council's president and vice-presidents which exceeds the Consumer Price Index.

At present, all raises to the council's top posts which fall above the CPI, a statistic which measures the cost of living from one year to another, are voted on by the council.

"Students pay the salaries of the USC and should have a say," Novak said. "This is obviously not an issue right now, but I'm just trying to build accountability."

The recommended referendum question would be a simple yes or no query added to the annual spring presidential election ballot, Novak said. He added it would be cost-free if the vote was conducted at the same time as the presidential elections.

USC President SzeJack Tan said students already have a voice in the decision, since it is the students who vote for the councillors. Tan added the issue will be one which generates good debate at the meeting.

"Usually we reserve referendums for major student fee issues like the health plan and bus pass," he said. "They're usually significant questions."

Many of the council's voting members do not view the issue as a significant concern. Huron College councillor Chris Sinal said he was insulted by the motion.

"This is a representative system. When student's vote me into office they are giving me the final say," he said. "This seems to be an indication of a lack of trust."

Sinal added the motion is insignificant based on both the minuteness of the increase and the rarity of the occurrences.

The last time a pay increase above the CPI was passed by council was in 1998, Tan said. There have only been two such occurrences over the last 5 years.

According to Michael Rubinoff, president of the faculty of law and a voting member of the USC, putting areas of compensation to a referendum is something which should not be taken lightly.

"Salaries are definitely an issue we have to be careful with," he said. "Putting compensation issues in the ballot box is serious due to the low voter turn-out and the need to be fully informed when making decisions of this nature."

Novak said the informed voter issue bothers him. "If students are educated enough to work all summer to pay their student fees, they are educated enough to know whether the student council deserves a pay increase," he said.

Jeffery Clayman, student senator at large, also said he had some reservations with Novak's motion.

"What exactly would we be setting as a precedent? We have an elected council for a reason. Issues which don't impact the students directly should be left in the council," Clayman said.

Sinal added council members are better off making such decisions since they have a greater breadth of knowledge on the issues.

"Who's a better judge then those who work in the system? Students are busy enough and don't have time to worry about whether council positions need a raise," he said. "We do. It's our job."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999