Student summer salaries come into question

Despite significant cuts across the board to the Student Association’s budget, four positions will still be receiving summer salaries this year in addition to their regular paychecks.

The position of WNYO general manager, along with the S.A. president, vice president and director of finance will each receive a summer salary even though there are no official rules requiring them to be on campus over the summer.

The S.A. budget committee has recommended a decrease for each of the four salaries in the upcoming fiscal year. According to Lauren Atkinson, director of finance, the general manager has been recommended to now make $600, down from $750. The director of finance has been reduced to $910, down from $1,050. The president $910, down from $1,050 and vice president $515.20, down from $552.

S.A. has yet to formally reach an agreement on next year’s budget.

Many clubs and organizations have faced severe cuts as S.A. attempts to balance the budget, but a summer salary is still necessary, said Kelli Ariel, general manager of WNYO. The radio station is legally required to stay on-air the entire year to keep their FCC license.

"In order to get that license we have to run the whole year through, including the summer," Ariel said. "If it does go off air and it doesn’t come back on by itself, we need somebody here to be able to turn it back on at the station."

Because the station must stay running and functioning year round, summer DJs have to be trained and supervised to make sure all regulations are complied with.

Ariel said the station would also be installing a new automation system over the summer to allow for as little interruption to broadcasts as possible. She plans on spending several weeks on campus learning how to use the system so she can train fellow station members to use it in the fall.

"During the summer the GM is the only acting person who is available to do these things," Ariel said.

Although the general manager is not required to be on campus during the summer, they are expected to ensure the station is running on the air year round, Ariel said.

Also in question was an account in the executive section of the budget for $1,500 a year to pay an executive director salary for WNYO. Initially it was unclear what the account was being used for, however it was determined that the money is used to pay a consultant.

The FCC requires that WNYO have a consultant contracted to the station.

"It’s a consultant that’s contracted to advise any operational needs for the radio station," S.A. President Steven DiMarzo said.

The payroll account has been going to professors with expertise in the broadcasting field. The account was under the executive budget, but has since been moved to WNYO’s budget.

Just as the general manager needs to be on campus during the summer, the president and vice president have responsibilities that they say need to be taken care of during the off-months.

The president, Vice President TJ Scandaliato said, has to spend most of the summer on campus "laying the groundwork" for the coming semester.

The vice president’s responsibilities for summer include setting up a legislative agenda, but mostly assisting and supporting the president with whatever needs to be done.

The president must handle renewing contracts with Centro and other organizations, help SAPB start planning, attend committee meetings and work with college council. Most of S.A.’s programming and events for the fall semester are also planned over the summer.

"We still have work over the summer," DiMarzo said.

DiMarzo pointed out that the nature of the presidency, vice presidency and director of finance position come with commitments that require them to be on campus over summer or at least work from home if they can’t be on campus.

"Maybe S.A. needs to become a little more fiscally conservative, especially when dealing with ourselves," Scandaliato said. "I believe that there definitely need to be cuts made, but I can understand both sides of the situation."

Scandaliato said S.A. has in fact made cuts to itself, not just clubs and organizations.

S.A. eliminated an item in the executive section of the budget called "Nutritional Compensation," which cost $800. The budget item amounted to adding extra money to the Plus Plans of the president and vice president. The money was divided between the two executives and then split in half for each semester, meaning the president and vice president each had $200 a semester to spend on Plus Plan, courtesy of S.A.

The purpose of the account was to create a buffer for Plus Plan and compensate the executive staff for having to grab meals on the go. The thought was that it would make it easier for executives to quickly get something to eat for lunch or dinner in between meetings.

The account has been wiped clean for the coming school year in the interest of saving money for other student organizations.

"We decided it wasn’t necessary, we had a feeling it was going to get cut because it was $800 that could go somewhere else," DiMarzo said.

Scandaliato said that the compensation was "absurd" and he planned on forgoing it, but he feels it has forced S.A. to look at the budget and ask ‘Do we need this and how is it going to benefit the student body?’

"We should not have that much money for arbitrary things," Scandaliato said.

Though the salaries are still quite large, Scandaliato said the massive time commitment involved makes not having a paycheck difficult. Both S.A. heads will be giving up lucrative part-time jobs for their S.A. positions.

Scandaliato won’t be working over the summer this year and DiMarzo will be leaving an intern position in the admissions office.

"We’re all just normal students just like everybody else, so in a sense, wherever we can make money, it’s kind of necessary," Scandaliato said.

Where Scandaliato recognizes the importance of using as much of S.A.’s money as possible for the students, DiMarzo is quick to point out that a summer salary is needed to allow students to take on a head S.A. position.

"It’s a necessity because you really can’t have a second job doing this," DiMarzo said. "I think we do more work than we get paid for."