Widgets Magazine

ASSU officials reap significant salaries

Though elections for ASSU offices are rapidly approaching, a point that is often overlooked during the voting process is compensation for student government officials. A significant proportion of ASSU officials, both elected and unelected, receive stipends, with the largest peaking just under $10,000.

Different branches of the ASSU draw significantly different amounts in compensation for officials. The Executive's slice of stipends goes to the President, Vice President and their cabinet, including their Chief of Staff. (ANASTASIA YEE/The Stanford Daily)

ASSU salaries change slightly year to year. The budget is calculated each spring following elections, reflecting important changes. Each new president determines the composition of their cabinet, so the number of paid officials is never the same.

Currently, under the operating budget for 2010-11, the president receives a personal stipend of $8,250, while the vice president receives a stipend of $8,500. Both typically receive an additional $1,500 stipend, meant to cover summer housing expenses. Last spring, former ASSU Vice President Kelsei Wharton ’12, who resigned earlier this quarter due to an injury, transferred $1,000 of his stipend to general discretionary funds because he spent part of his summer off-campus.

As a point of comparison, the executive stipends are at a similar level as resident assistant (RA) salaries. RAs earn 75 percent of the cost of room and board.

This year, under ASSU President Angelina Cardona ’11, executive cabinet chairs each earn a stipend of $800. Cardona’s chief of staff earns $2,500, bringing the total of all cabinet stipends this year to $35,750, down from $40,550 for last year’s cabinet.

Last year’s ASSU President, David Gobaud ’08 M.S. ’10, gave up $2,000 of his own salary to provide $1,000 in salaries for members of his larger cabinet, including new graduate student-specific positions.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) also includes several paid positions, most notably the body’s chair, who receives $4,700.

The Undergraduate Senate compensates select members, as some positions entail a higher time commitment. The Senate Chair receives $3,000, while the Deputy Chair receives $1,000. The senate secretary is compensated $800. The chair of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, Rafael Vazquez ’12, receives a stipend of $2,000.

In a winter quarter meeting before the transition, some senators expressed confusion about which of their peers receive compensation. From last year to this year, the Senate decreased salaries for the Chair and Deputy Chair, by 29 and 50 percent, respectively. The Senate parliamentarian is no longer compensated.

For students hoping to run for class president, there is no monetary incentive — those positions are unpaid.

“I think the current compensation levels are adequate for the positions,” said former Senate Chair and recently appointed Vice President Michael Cruz ’12. “There’s a lot of work that goes into each position, so any compensation is much appreciated.”

The highest-paid unelected official in the ASSU is Elections Commissioner Stephen Trusheim '13, who draws $3,000 for his position. (ANASTASIA YEE/The Stanford Daily)

Cruz said he did not weigh compensation as a factor in his decision to run for elected office; he preferred instead to focus on “how much social good and social change I can make.”

Cruz took office following Wharton’s resignation. He admitted that he still does not know how the ASSU will handle the transition in terms of compensation.

“We’ve been more focused on making sure the transition of the work has been going well,” Cruz said.

Cardona said that the ASSU would try to prorate salaries for those who moved to different positions following Wharton’s resignation, using time spent on the job as the main metric to determine compensation levels.

Cruz discussed the pay level of student government officials in terms of the amount of time an individual can commit and the individual’s financial situation.

“I think it depends on the individual’s circumstances,” he said in reference to students’ decision to run for office.

Unelected paid positions in the ASSU include representatives on the Nominations Commission and the Elections Commission. The chair of the Nominations Commission is currently compensated $1,650, while the Elections Commissioner is compensated $3,000.

“The time commitment for being on the Elections Commission is particularly high,” wrote Elections Commissioner Stephen Trusheim ’13 in an e-mail to The Daily.

He described the job as requiring “year-round work” and “about two months of constant round-the-clock work” to ensure that ASSU candidates, class president slates and special fee groups meet ballot deadlines.

Salaries for ASSU officials were under scrutiny last spring, when then-senator Alex Katz ’12 presented two amendments to a bill before the Senate to cut executive salaries. His final amendment, to collectively cut the salaries by $3,000, was rejected 7-1.

NEW ASSU Salary Info

(Courtesy of the ASSU)

  • Seriously

    Can someone tell me what the ASSU has done to merit these payments? Give me a list of 5 things you have done this year to benefit the student body. I invite any of the ASSU exec or future hopefuls to respond.

  • Meanwhile…

    According to tax returns, 3 (count them, three) of the Stanford Daily’s employees are paid a total of $104,500, about 1/3 more than the entire student government. Really, Daily?

    In all, the Daily paid out a total of $333,384 (that’s 319% of the ASSU’s salary budget) last year to 79 employees, making the average salary of a Daily employee $4,274. Looks like the student government is downright frugal compared to this organization.

    Another fun fact: the Daily asked for ~$90,000 in Special Fees last year, because they “couldn’t make ends meet.” Fancy that.

  • ?

    3 (at least) of the stanford daily’s employees are full-time and not students. also, the daily puts out a paper every weekday. why does the “food czar” of the gsc deserve a $1,000 salary??

  • Unfair

    I understand that ASSU execs put in a lot of time and effort into their positions. But many student leaders at Stanford put in at least half the time and are not compensated. Student leadership positions on campus should not be compensated positions, period.

  • @unfair

    Could not agree more. The money used to pay ASSU execs would be better spent if it was contributed directly to student groups.

  • Meanwhile…

    I agree. I hope the Daily leads this charge by not compensating their student leaders, as we all agree is right and proper.

  • Meanwhile…

    and, of course, using the cost-savings from that to stop requesting Special Fees from the student body. Imagine what the Daily could do with $333,384 not being paid to salaries! They could stop asking us for $90,000, and instead give every student more money in their pockets.

  • Daniel Bohm

    To meanwhile…
    As a writer, columnist and editor at The Daily, I can tell you that writers are not paid, neither are columnists. I get paid $8 an hour for editing.
    There is your full disclosure. Also, if you want anyone to take you seriously, or to respect your comments, put your name in front of them.

  • Meanwhile…

    Thank you Daniel Bohm. I’m happy to hear that you are a paid employee of the Stanford Daily. I hope you support me and the rest of the commenters, as well as the tone of this article, in taking away your salary — it is, after all, equivalent to the hourly salary of the President and Vice President, and well above the hourly salary of the Senate chair. I expect that you can agree that this is all a tremendous miscarriage of justice.

    Or do you feel that your work is somehow more valuable than that of the elected officials? More useful? Should be compensated where our elected officials should not be? None of these opinions are valid without defense, for which you have provided none.

    If you want anyone to take you seriously, or to respect your comments, stop holding up a double standard.

  • ASSU

    ASSU should not be paid for being student government. I honestly do not think the ASSU is effective (just look at their botched planning for Big Game Week –it was disgraceful and the response by one senator in particular made me extremely angry due to the lack of accountability and motivation to do anything) and the excuse that they invest so much time in their work which justifies their exorbitant salaries is ridiculous –like others have mentioned, other clubs/activities invest hours and hours, yet often they don’t receive any money at all when special fees are rejected.

  • read this

    http://www.stanforddaily.com/2011/03/04/editorial-assu-stipends-are-justified/

    Most ASSU people, especially the execs, work their asses off. Have some respect for the sacrifice they are making on behalf of the student body.