At this point, many people within the University of Rhode Island community who are members of a Student Senate-stipended organization know how egregious and ridiculous the Student Organization Advisory and Review Committee (SOARC) stipend reviews are.
The Cigar featured an article and an opinion editorial last week on how Student Senate investigates its own stipends. This week, I’d like to delve a little deeper and talk about their reviews of other organizations.
During the two stipend reviews I attended for my positions within The Good 5 Cent Cigar and the Student Entertainment Committee, it was frustrating to have to re-explain the work I do as many times as I did. However, I do at least see the value in understanding as much as possible when making a financial decision. At certain times, though, watching people that have the fate of my stipend in their hands chew on ice, twiddle their thumbs and avoid eye contact gave me the impression that they simply weren’t listening.
It was angering to have to explain something as miniscule as the title of my job, for example. How can student senate review positions on campus of which they don’t even know the name?
In addition, I’d also like to know how they can possibly give fair and proportional attention to all organizations that are stipended since stipend review meetings only started on Feb. 24 according to the Senate website. I can’t speak for every organization, of course, but I have never seen any SOARC members at an SEC or Cigar meeting this year.
To be clear, I understand and wholeheartedly agree with the process of reviewing paid positions held on campus. A lot of money is at stake here and with funding being such an issue, it is important to be thorough and comprehensive. The purpose of a stipend review is one I agree with, however, the execution is not.
There are students at this university who put countless hours into thankless jobs on campus only for them to be told they aren’t worthy of a low-paying stipend by a group of their peers that showed little to no interest in them up until a few weeks ago.
Another thing I can’t seem to understand is if an organization does not agree with SOARC’s decision on a stipend-receiving position, it must file an appeal back to Student Senate. How is it possible to file an appeal to the same organization that made the original ruling? This, with the addition of the fact that Senate reviews its own stipends, is reprehensible. The lack of a checks and balances system here legitimately baffles me.
My solution, if anyone is to review positions on campus with stipends, it should be done by staff members with an extensive understanding of business and not students with full course loads and a lack of knowledge within most of the organizations they review.
If the current system is truly fair, why has this process only begun this year when plenty of these positions have existed long before the fall of 2015? Why can’t I or any of my peers here at the wonderful University of Rhode Island review their stipends? I am also a student here and I have taken plenty of business and political sciences classes.
Though I am Â coming to the end of my college career, I would hate to see Senate continue its self-serving reign because no one is holding them accountable. SOARC should be ashamed for being so ill-prepared and unethical during the entirety of the stipend review process.