The second legislature of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) convened Monday evening to discuss an informal compensation proposal for some GSGA executive members and conduct a first reading of a proposed financial reform bill.
GSGA Executive Vice President Vineet Tiruvadi (18G, 21M) asked for feedback on an idea to compensate GSGA executive members, except for the president and the vice president, $1,000 annually from student activity fee funding. Tiruvadi has not yet written a bill.
Twelve students comprise the 2017-2018 GSGA executive board. The GSGA president and executive vice president appoint all executive board members, after which the legislature must approve the president and vice president’s selected candidate by a simple majority vote.
“[Compensation] lets the exec board know that they are working for the students,” Tiruvadi said. “This is a way to not only compensate them for their time and their effort, but it’s a sign to actually demonstrate to them that. … This is a responsibility that you have to the student body to do your job.”
Tiruvadi said he excluded the president and the vice president from the proposed compensation plan due to the two receiving other benefits from their positions, such as increased contact with University administration, students and divisions.
Legislators expressed reservations about the proposal, with multiple legislators calling the proposal “fishy” for compensating only appointed executive members.
“You’re giving money to people who weren’t elected. That just doesn’t sit well with me,” Legislator Sydney Kaplan (19L) said.
Legislator Byron Wratee (18T) voiced his doubts about the merits of some current executive board members.
“I know some people on the executive board, and I’m pretty sure they don’t deserve $1,000,” Wratee said.
GSGA Vice President of Finance Deepa Raju (18B) questioned the proposal’s impact on future GSGA executive member applicants.
“Without a monetary incentive, you know that whoever is in that position is in there because they are genuinely interested in the job,” Raju said. “I feel like when you have monetary incentives sometimes that changes why people might sign up for a job.”
Wratee echoed the Raju’s sentiments.
“I’m really worried about the type of people that will now apply,” Wratee said. “I see this [being a legislator] as service to Candler [School of Theology]. I want students who want to serve, not someone that’s working.”
Tiruvadi said that compensation could help attract students who otherwise could not participate in student government due to monetary and time restrictions, adding that executive compensation is already in place at peer institutions, such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, where Tiruvadi also serves as a member of the graduate student government association, but he agreed to take legislators’ doubts into account for a formal proposal in the future.
“This is great for temperature taking,” Tiruvadi said. “I heard exactly what I needed to hear to do a little bit more of the homework and the research.”
Tiruvadi emphasized that the proposal is entirely subject to the GSGA legislators.
“[Compensation] should be up to the legislature to decide whether this is something they want, what the amounts would be, what the concerns would be,” Tiruvadi wrote in a Feb. 26 email to the Wheel. “I think our team this year has done an amazing job, and I want to set up a system that can ensure future GSGAs improve on our foundation.”
GSGA also conducted a first reading of Raju’s proposed financial reform bill, which was previously discussed at the Feb. 6 GSGA meeting.
The proposed bill would require divisional councils to provide transition plans to their successors to avoid future financial complications.
A divisional council’s transition plan would include monthly account statements for the academic year; their speedtypes, or account numbers; their divisional accounts; a list of all active, probationary and deactivated organizations; a copy of the GSGA monetary code; and a rough financial timeline for the academic year.
Raju’s bill also states that divisions must follow a specified timeline in the financial transition between academic years.
“[The bill] requires that organizations get their requests into the divisions by a set date, that the divisions transfer that spreadsheet to the vice president of finance by a set date, that way everything can get to [Associate Director of Student Governance Services (SGS)] VonYetta [Hunter] in the SGS office in time, so that they have it before the summer, and it will be transferred in the beginning of the year,” Raju said.
The proposed financial reform bill would also require divisions to keep $5,000 of anticipated semester budgets as “pending” to prevent divisions from over-budgeting to organizations. The divisional councils set and approve budgets in spring semesters, but their allocated amount is typically received in the fall semester. Divisional councils can approve student organizations’ request for funding, but they can’t disperse the funding until the divisional councils actually receive the money once the Add/Drop/Swap period ends. Next semester’s budgets are typically based on the previous semester’s budget, but GSGA cannot guarantee exactly how much each organization will receive because enrollment numbers sometimes fluctuate.
The divisional treasurer would formally approve the pending $5,000 Oct. 15 for the Fall semester and Feb. 15 for the Spring semester.
GSGA is set to vote on the bill next week.
Clarification (3/1/18 at 7:58 p.m.): The article was updated to reflect that Tiruvadi’s informal proposal to compensate GSGA executive board members is not a formal bill.