Leaders of OU student governing bodies receive scholarships, stipends as compensation

Students who hold leadership positions on some of Ohio’s governing bodies receive scholarships and awards issued by the university as forms of compensation for their jobs.

The positions of President, Vice President, and Treasurer in the Student Senate and Graduate Student Senate—two organizations with decision-making power and influence in the OU—are awarded various scholarships and rewards based on leadership level.

Jim Sabin, a university spokesman, said the treasurer and vice president of the Senate each receive biannual scholarships while they serve in those specific positions, in addition to individual non-resident fees if applicable. The chairperson receives a full scholarship, plus non-resident fees, if any.

For the 2021-22 academic year at the OU Athens campus, the total cost of tuition and in-state fees is $12,840, and out-of-state tuition and fees total $22,810, according to the university. website.

Sabine also said that the scholarships are paid for through the OU’s Central Scholarships Group, and approval for the scholarship was granted in 1994 by Gary Moden, Associate Emeritus Dean and Professor at Patton College of Education.

The Senate Compensation Scale for graduate students is slightly different from the Senate Compensation Scale. The treasurer and vice president of the commission each receive an additional stipend of $5,000 per academic year. However, the President receives a full scholarship, as well as a stipend of $15,000 per academic year.

These amounts are funded from the graduate school’s core budget, Sabine said.

Although the position of GSS chief is more compensated for than the two other officer positions, Charlotte Yang, GSS Treasurer and Ph.D. Any compensation helps her balance her schoolwork and her responsibilities at GSS, a student studying translational biomedical sciences, said.

Given the workload she had in the Public Security Agency, Yang said that the $5,000 salary is not enough, but it’s better than nothing. Without her, she said she wouldn’t be in her current position as a cashier but she would still be a part of the body because she is so dedicated and considers it her “happy place”.

“If I don’t get paid, my priority will still be my research because this is my fifth year, and the epidemic has slowed me down from lab research last year,” Yang said. “If I don’t get paid, it would be a disadvantage for me.”

Remington Burwell, GSS Vice President and Ph.D. A student studying plant biology, also said that his salary does not represent the work he does in his position, although he understands why the university shapes his wages in this way.

The $5,000 salary, Burwell said, is based on the five-hour workweek model. As per University policy, working hours as a student are set at 20 hours per week, and therefore the position of Vice President is compatible with other work obligations at the OU.

Despite his understanding, Burwell said he wishes more positions within the GSS would be pushed for more valuable work to be done by the body. Like Yang, he said knowing the salary influenced his decision to run for office, as his academic program is his priority at OU.

“Adequate pay goes along with motivating people to do the job, so if there are more positions, more executive positions that are paid and that fit into the graduate student’s lifestyle, I think that would be very attractive and lead to success,” Burwell said.

Unlike Yang and Burwell, Joseph Eliquim Kofi Ziurklui, GSS chair and candidate for the master’s program in financial economics, said knowledge of compensation did not influence his decision to run. For him, the biggest motivating factor in his decision to run for president was his passion for serving others. He said compensation is a secondary factor.

“It (the compensation) has helped me reduce the fees that I will pay this semester and what I will pay next semester, and I think it is a good thing because you have to be able to be in a sound mind so you can serve and then work effectively, and not think about any other financial obligations.” “Of course, when that happens, you have a divided interest, which will affect your ability to serve and act as mandated.”

Like Yang and Burwell, Senate Treasurer Simar Calkatt, a junior student studying financial business analytics, women’s studies, and gender and sexuality, said one of the reasons she put her passion and effort into her campaign for treasurer was because of the semi-scholarship she was receiving.

She also said that she sees her scholarship as a way to invest more time and energy in on-campus life rather than getting another job on or off-campus, and that the scholarship is not offered without obligations.

“It is important that we use the grant to ascertain why time and effort is devoted to (the organisation),” Kalkat said. “I think a lot of people would misinterpret it, like, ‘Oh, you’re going to get this position, and it’s like an automatic scholarship. You don’t have to work for it. You get this scholarship because you dedicate 10, 15, 20 hours a week to it.”

Becky “Elisa” Evan, student council president and a fifth-year student of pre-law political science, sociology and criminology, and Elena Tartal, vice president and senior in political science and criminology, said the compensation they received did not influence their decisions to run for office.

Evan said she is grateful for the scholarship she is receiving, as it removed financial constraints and allowed her to be more present in her responsibilities in the Senate.

Reflecting Evan’s view, Tartal said the scholarship reflects the student’s workload in the Senate and provides her with more opportunities to work less out of the body, allowing her to focus more on that.

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