About a month ago, Helen Wood reflected the job outgoing ASG President Jon Webber has done. Wood, who serves as the Center for Student Involvement director and Associated Student Government adviser, expressed how content she was with Webber’s tenure. But having worked with six previous Northwestern ASG presidents, she said she’s always impressed with the people that come in and take up the laborious job.
“It takes a lot of energy, and it takes a lot of time,” Wood said. “The job is a lonely one. You’re taking a full-time job without pay.”
The fact is, about 80 percent of private universities compensate their student government officers with some sort of stipend or scholarship, according to Executive Director Butch Oxendine of the American Student Government Association, which compiles data on student governments nationwide.
Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, gives its Student Government Association president about $5,000 a year, which Oxendine said adds up to "pennies on the hour" considering the 40 plus number of hours she puts in per week. Northeastern University in Boston gives its Student Government Association a full tuition waiver and meal plan that adds up to about $24,000.
Compensation opens up the playing field because "otherwise, you just have rich kids running (because) it limits the pool you can draw from," Oxedine said. Many students might not be able to run for their student government because the time commitment would not allow them to work.
Oxendine said compensation for being active in one's student government is about the equivalent of athletes getting scholarships or newspaper staff members getting stipends. The Daily does offer small stipends to staff members who work at least twice a night.