The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Student Association should not be immune to budget cuts

    At Wednesday’s Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) meeting, six candidates in tomorrow’s Student Association (SA) election participated in a Q&A session. We appreciate the candidates’ seeking us out, and their willingness to engage in discussion. Many interesting questions were raised concerning a variety of topics such as online voting and impending budget cuts, but one in particular deserves recognition.
    The question dealt with the salaries, totaling $18,045, that the eight-member SA executive council receives. Each salary is listed on page 40 of the SA Constitution, found at the SA Senate’s Web site. The candidates fumbled the topic around for a few minutes, until someone asked, “If elected, would any of you commit to giving your salary back to the school?” For the first time they were hesitant to speak.
    After a brief pause, Drew Cleek stated that if elected, he would give the SA President’s salary of $6,120 back to the fund for student organizations.
    On Thursday, YAL sent an e-mail to several hundred students to raise awareness of the salaries and encourage other candidates to address the issue. In response, Robin Tierce has pledged, if elected, to relinquish 30 percent ($750) of the SA Treasurer’s salary to the student organization fund as well.
    Again, our intention is not to endorse any candidate, but rather to shed light on the SA exec.’s little-known salaries. These two candidates made independent decisions to adopt it as a part of their platform. Our hope is that as a result more students will seek information on the inner workings of our SA, where its funding comes from, where its funding goes, and most importantly, how many students actually benefit from the funding.
    We know the SA exec. council, with three of its members being unelected appointees, essentially write themselves a yearly check totaling $18,045. The SA also annually appropriates $25,000 in funding to the university’s 300-plus student organizations. This means that the combined salaries of eight SA exec. members amounts to nearly 75 percent of the funding which thousands of students in over 300 student organizations receive. Does this distribution of funding not seem slightly concentrated and disproportional?
    The funding for the Night Route, student events and organizations is derived from a combination of a 2 percent food and beverage tax placed on Starkville restaurants, as well as a tax rebate from on-campus sales. As is the case across Mississippi, Starkville’s tax revenue is decreasing. Consumers are simply spending less of their hard-earned money on dining and entertainment. Sending student lobbying groups to the Capitol to rub shoulders with lawmakers isn’t going to change this fact. When university budget cuts inevitably affect our SA, we propose that instead of more increases to taxes and tuition, the SA tighten its own belt beginning with the executive council salaries.
    Of course, the argument against reducing salaries is that SA exec. members work long hours and are underpaid because their service to our student body is invaluable. Meanwhile, the SA cabinet, which does most of the SA’s groundwork, and the SA Senate, which is accountable to students rather than administrators, both work without monetary compensation. These students work on SA for the experience and out of a sense of duty to the school they love. Why can’t these principles carry over into the SA executive council?
    The purpose of the Student Association is to proactively seek out student interests, ideas and concerns. Instead, it has become a breeding ground for career politicians, bloated bureaucracies and monopolistic tendencies. Tell the candidates to focus more on seeking out all students, and focus less on using our SA to advance their self-interests and political careers.
    Matthew Burrow is a senior majoring in political science and the president of the MSU chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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    Student Association should not be immune to budget cuts