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Press Clipping: Daily Northwestern "Paying Student Government Officials"
This article about the SG Salary Survey appeared in the Daily Northwestern at Northwestern University in Illinois.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Paying student government officials

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.

Webber, a Weinberg senior, didn’t expect the presidency to consume so much of his time. On top of trying to fulfill his campaign promises, Webber soon learned he was always on the job – whether it be meetings or e-mails, whether it be with administrators or his constituents.

“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.

American Student Government Association  

The American Student Government Association will provide all Student Government leaders and advisors nationwide with networking, research, and information resources and will teach them how to become more effective, ethical, and influential leaders on their campuses. ASGA also will promote the advancement of SGs, conduct research as the nation’s only “SG Think Tank,” and advocate the importance of having a vibrant, autonomous Student Government organization at every institution in America.

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