The student body pays the ASCMC President far too much. The presidential stipend is currently $15,000, of which $7,500 comes from the ASCMC budget. This is $6,300 more than ASCMC pays for next highest paid position, the Social Affairs Chair, $6,000 more than the Pomona student body president receives, and $5,700 more than the Scripps student body president receives. Neither the Pitzer nor the Harvey Mudd student body presidents receive a stipend at all.
$7,500 is a lot of money, especially in the context of ASCMC. Our Social Life Chair is allocated $7,000 a year, meaning that the presidential stipend is larger than the entirety of our dry event budget, and nearly equivalent to the entirety of the budgets of the Junior, Sophomore, and Freshman classes combined. $7,000 is additionally over half of the entirety of Senate’s budget.
The truth is, this money can be better spent elsewhere. If we reduce the stipend by only $3,500, we could increase the entirety of the SLC budget by 50%, or increase dorm budgets by nearly 20%, or club budgets by around 7%. That’s a lot more added value for a lot more students.
Spending $7,000 of student money on one person adds no value to ASCMC. It not only prevents money from being spent on other, valuable programs, but also delegitimizes the rest of the board when comparing relative stipends. The next highest paid position on ASCMC is that of the Social Affairs Chair, who receives $1,200 a year. In other words, ASCMC’s stipend system is essentially saying that the President does approximately 14 times as much work as the Social Affairs Chair–even though ASCMC’s social chairs arguably have the highest hourly workload of the entirety of the Executive Board, having to set up, staff, and take down every social event (in addition to having to meet with members of the administration regularly). Other, lower paid members of Executive Board are further devalued, most notably the Student Security Director, who only receives $300 a year, only 1/50th of the Presidential stipend, despite having to secure and staff every single ASCMC social event.
Many defend the size of the stipend by pointing out that the stipend allows candidates who otherwise would have applied to be an RA to run for office instead, or that most presidents donate their salary back to ASCMC. I don’t buy these reasons. People should want to be on ASCMC because they want to serve their student body and improve their school, not because they get $15,000 out of the deal. Additionally, a system in which donation becomes the norm means that those presidents or presidential candidates that do not or will not donate their salaries back to ASCMC are criticized for their stinginess or greed, unnecessarily dragging the question of a candidate’s familial financial situation into an election.
For those concerned about such a drastic reduction to the presidential stipend, regardless of the massive additional value it will bring to the student body, remember that the Dean of Students office matches the amount that ASCMC pays its president – a donation provided from DOS singularly for the ASCMC president. As such, a $3,500 stipend from ASCMC means that the president would actually receive $7,000. In fact, this could be cause for further cutting the presidential stipend, considering that DOS automatically doubles whatever ASCMC pays its president.
I propose offering a constitutional amendment to reduce the Presidential stipend to $3,500, effective immediately. The amount of added value that we can bring to CMC with an extra $3,500 is huge. It’s time to stop compromising on where our student fees go, and reduce the presidential stipend to a level that allows CMC students to get what they deserve out of their student government.