The Sham that is the CUSC Compensation Proposal

Alec Hoffman, Contributing Writer

I would like to preface my opinion with a congratulations to the newly elected Clark University Student Council Executive Board. Amid one of the few competitive CUSC elections in recent history, you have all prevailed because the student body believes in your message. Now, I ask, as your constituent, for you to prove yourselves capable of your responsibilities and to reject the egregious Compensation Proposal.

The stated purpose of the Compensation Proposal is to “provide monetary compensation for the Clark Undergraduate Student Council Executive Board consisting of the President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary as well as committee chairs.” The proposal then proceeds to cite the E-Board bona fides, referencing their advocacy campaigns and other means in which they have addressed institutional gaps. Fair enough. However, the following section, the ever-important “Why must we do this”, falls far short. When asking to take a whopping $37,047 (and 50 cents) from Cumulative Surplus funds, the bar is set very high; the Council’s proposal has proven itself entirely inadequate. 

To provide some transparency for readers, $6,090 will go to each E-Board member over the year, while every Committee Chair will receive $1,812.50. The source of these funds? Cumulative Surplus. You know, the same source of funds that went to such popular projects as GALA ($15,000), the Yearbook ($13,000), and the Downing Street playground. No less, as the Cumulative Surplus is comprised of the money that clubs do not spend every year, it is, therefore, the student activity fees of both current and graduated students. Thus, it usually funds projects that are significant to alumni and students alike. Aka. not putting the E-Board on a payroll. Anyone else think it’s a bit unfair that four people will receive more money every year ($24,360) than it cost to host GALA – an event that includes and is enjoyed by hundreds of students?

As anyone should when requesting $37,047.50, the proposal provides some facts to justify its lofty request. Facts backed by a whopping total of three (3) sources. Not to mention that two of these sources were written in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The only source published within the lifetime of a Clark freshman is a 2022 article stating that Tufts was considering paying its student council. Now, it is true that American University provides monetary compensation to its student government. However, AU is a school 3x the size of Clark and rather than $37,047.50 distributed to 11 people, AU opts for $22,000 for 21 people. That is $3,367.95 per person compared to AU’s $1,047.62 per person. I know that Clark is great and all, but are we $3,367.95 per person great?

Never mind that these proposed salaries will only be provided for 2 years so that future E-Boards may “reassess these numbers and look at additional means to allocate funding for compensation.” Conveniently enough time for the current E-Board to have graduated and run off with their ill-gotten gains. Doesn’t the 27th Amendment prevent Congressmembers from doing this?

I digress. My main issue with the Compensation Proposal is fairness. Why does the E-Board have to be paid now of all times? The proposal says that “this past year has proven to be an especially difficult time to serve as an Executive Board member due to having to piece together the council as a functional governing body with working structures,” (Whatever that means). What about other student leaders who have had to piece together their clubs as a functional body with working structures? Is your work as an E-Board member or Chair more valuable than the team captain or the club leader? What makes you worthy of compensation over John Doe of SPOC or Jane Doe of the Beekeeper’s Club? Not to mention that the CUSC E-Board are not the only student leaders who have put innumerable hours into advocacy and activism.

Perhaps it is time for the entire Clark community to decide if CUSC is worthy of special treatment. Perhaps it is time for this proposal to be put to a popular referendum. However, I believe that the E-Board has deferred to the Council because they are afraid Clark students would reject their bid to seize money better allocated to the student body, not to individuals. If the new Executive Board wants its legacy to be remembered for anything other than greed, it must defer to the people.