Senator working on amendment to pay certain secured club members
Senator Oliver Price ’20 says he plans to bring his amendment, still a work in progress, to a vote in February.
Charles River Senator Oliver Price ’20 is working on an amendment to the Union Constitution to pay certain members of secured clubs. Price said he hopes the Senate will vote on the amendment in February so that secured clubs would have the rest of the spring semester to become wage-eligible.
Price told the Justice on Wednesday that if his amendment passed, secured clubs would have the option to request to be promoted to a new tier of wage-eligible clubs. The Union’s Constitution defines a secured club as “an organization recognized by students as sufficiently important to necessitate annual funding and secured status through the Constitution.” This includes WBRS 100.1 FM, Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps, Waltham Group, Brandeis Television, Student Events, Archon Yearbook, Student Sexuality Information Service, the Justice and the Brandeis Sustainability Fund, per the constitution.
Under Price’s amendment, if the Senate voted with a two-thirds majority to make a particular secured club wage-eligible, the club would be able to petition the Allocations Board. A-Board would then decide whether, which and how much certain club members would be paid.
Price said that he thought club members who go “above and beyond” deserve to be paid for their time. “If you’re working 10, 20, 30 hours a week, you should be paid for one or two of those hours,” he said. He pointed out that other colleges and universities — such as Boston University, the University of Maryland and more — pay members of radio stations, paramedic teams, publications and other groups similar to Brandeis’ secured clubs.
According to Price, secured club members who were approved to be paid would not be paid for every hour of their work. He explained that they would be paid for only a few hours per week depending on how much work they typically did. A-board would set a cap of about $500 total per semester, he said. Price said that University Chief Financial Officer Samuel Solomon told him that paying members a stipend would not be possible, so offering wages for only a few hours a week would generate about the same amount of money.
Price said he is still working on the specifics of the amendment, but he currently wants secured clubs to be able to pay members who are not necessarily club leaders, but whose tasks resemble professional positions and take up a lot of time. He mentioned audio technicians in WBRS as an example of secured club members who could be wage-eligible despite not being club leaders.
He also explained that not all secured clubs could become wage-eligible. Price predicted that Brandeis TV would likely not become wage-eligible. “There’s a lot of clubs … but some are clearly way more work than others,” he said. Price emphasized that he does not plan on setting specific criteria for what would make secured clubs wage-eligible. Rather, he said he wants to leave that to the Senate’s discretion.
In an Oct. 14 email to secured club leaders, Price wrote that his amendment would make “these positions more competitive and accountable” and that it would “[open] up these positions to students who otherwise must find work study jobs on campus.”
Price explained in his interview with the Justice that he wants some of the provisions of this amendment to be in the Bylaws rather than the constitution to make them easier to change. According to the Union’s constitution and Bylaws, the student body votes on constitutional amendments, while only the Senate votes on proposed changes to the Bylaws. Price said, for example, that he wants a provision in the Bylaws saying that up to four secured club members could be paid in case a club wants to be able to pay five members. He said that if a secured club has good reason to pay five members rather than four, they should be able to.
According to Price, he has received mixed reactions to his proposal. Solomon said the proposal was feasible, Price said, and he also had support from Class of 2022 Senator Joseph Coles. Student Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21 seemed receptive as well, Price said.
Other than at WBRS, Price said, secured club leaders have not been as open to the idea. After sending out an email to leaders of all the secured clubs on Oct. 14, he got very little feedback, he said.
Waltham Group President Theresa Weis ’20 told the Justice on Friday that while she was not opposed to the amendment, she wants to talk to other members of Waltham Group and better understand how the amendment would work before making a decision.
Weis explained that because her position in Waltham Group takes 20 to 30 hours per week, she no longer has time to do work study. “People are giving up their jobs to do this kind of work,” she said. She emphasized that she thought the Waltham Group executive board and coordinators deserved to be paid for their time, but expressed concern that A-board would not be able to pay all 90 of them.
Weis also said she was concerned that wages would “change the culture” of Waltham Group, which is a community service club. “On the one hand, of course we should be paying [members]. … However, if you look at it from another stance, community service is about community service, and so by paying members of Waltham Group, it might change the incentive of people joining,” she said.
Weis said she would discuss the amendment with the Waltham Group executive board and coordinators at an upcoming meeting.
In an Oct. 17 email to Price, Justice Managing Editor Jen Geller ’20 wrote that the Justice does not want to receive wages under the amendment. “By entering into this amendment by being paid, our club is further accountable to the Allocations Board,” she wrote.
Geller continued that she could not give the Justice’s opinion on the amendment as a whole until she spoke with the editorial board about it. “They may have thoughts on the amendment and weigh in as a board, but this does not detract from the fact that maintaining our journalistic independence relies on us not taking part in this for our own club leaders,” she concluded.
BEMCo Director Michele Etzbach ’20 declined to comment on the amendment for liability reasons.
Although Price expressed some disappointment at the lack of interest from secured club leaders, he said that he still wants the amendment to pass “to make it easier for future generations to get paid if they ever wanted to.” He explained, “This amendment could pass and no clubs could opt to become wage-eligible. That would be fine. If 10 years from now, a club wanted to get paid wages, language would be there.”
—Editor’s Note: Justice editor Emily Blumenthal and staff writer Joshua Aldwinckle-Povey are members of WBRS 100.1 FM.
—Editor’s Note: Justice editor Jocelyn Gould did not contribute to this article. Justice editor Jen Geller did not contribute to or edit this article.