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WU to pay all student leadership positions by leadership award

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Emma Innes

Staff writer

After inquiry by a committee, Willamette University has decided to pay all “student leadership positions” through leadership awards. The change was announced at the April 15 ASWU meeting. Leadership awards are considered financial aid, so the award cannot be taxed. Changes will be made to the way leadership awards are distributed: the amount will be deposited into personal bank accounts in halves at two separate points during a semester. The current plan is to distribute the first half mid semester and the other at the end of the semester. Currently, leadership awards are paid in full at the end of a semester.

While hourly workers’ pay varies depending on the amount of hours worked, the leadership award is a set semesterly amount. So while student leaders will no longer be able to accrue sick hours, they will be paid the set amount through the leadership award as long as they hold the job, regardless of changes in hours—income is guaranteed. Affected positions will no longer be mandatory reporters unless they are working with minors, and will no longer be required to complete HR training. Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) senators previously raised concerns regarding loss of rights, since those paid by leadership award are not considered university employees. Lisa Holliday, associate dean of students, said that student leaders paid by leadership award will not be losing any rights beyond those listed above.

The positions that will be paid using leadership awards are: ASWU Executive Board members, ASWU Senators, Collegian employees, Willamette Event Board (WEB) Officers, Sexual Assault Response Advocates (SARA), Community Service Learning (CSL) & Campus Recreation (CREC) program leaders, Opening Days leaders, Jump Start leaders, Community Action Fund for Equity and Sustainability (CAFES) committee members, Residence Hall Association (RHA), Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) interns, Panhellenic Council (PHC) members, Interfraternity Council (IFC) members, Gender Resource Advocacy Center (GRAC) student employees, Students Organizing for Access to Resources (SOAR) student employees, Student Athelete Advisory Committee (SAAC) members, Office of Multicutural Affairs (OMA) student employees and Mosiacs, a mentoring program for multicultural students.

Lisa Landreman, vice president of Student Affairs, was the one who requested for a committee to investigate student compensation. According to a document provided by Lisa Holliday, what caused the inquiry were equity concerns—students not being paid what their work called for compared to others—and to better comply with Oregon’s labor laws regarding University students, which says that university students participating in extracurricular activities are not university employees.

ASWU Treasurer Michael Burke (‘23) was the only student who was on the committee. According to a presentation he gave at the April 15 ASWU Senate meeting, the rest of the committee included: Holliday, Andrea Doyle Hugmeyer (Director of GRAC, Confidential Advocate), Anthony Stafford (Director of Campus Recreation), Dana Monaghan (Assistant Vice President of Human Resources), Gordy Toyama (Director of Office of Multicultural Affairs), Laura Taylor (Associate Provost for Academic Finance, Associate Professor of Economics) and Sarah Kirk (Associate Provost, Professor of Chemistry).

According to Burke’s presentation and Holliday’s document, once the committee decided to shift to leadership awards, they followed a process to create the amount each position would get. First, the committee created a master spreadsheet of all student leadership positions and went through the list to see who should be hourly and who should get a leadership award. Then, they placed the positions into the following categories: lead, supervises two levels of students; coordinator, supervises one level of students; finance, oversees funds for an organization; staff, does not oversee students. Lead, coordinator, finance and staff positions are paid at different levels. To decide the amounts for each position, the committee calculated the minimum wage over the hours of work each position is expected to accrue over their employment period. The committee is also adding extra pay to positions where students assume risk and for positions that require certification.

Burke’s presentation explained the changes and asked for feedback on the size of the ASWU leadership awards. ASWU [has been restructuring] to increase student involvement and accessibility, and adding pay for Senators is part of their plan. Senators will receive $500/semester.

During the feedback portion of Burke’s presentation, Chief Justice Sam Johnston (‘21) said that the $750 award for his position was too small, saying that the amount should be closer to $1000. Burke said the $750 amount was based off the estimated three hours a week of work for the Chief Justice position. Johnston responded that four or five hours is the reality of what he works. Johnston also noted the standard justice position was left off the list of leadership award amounts provided to ASWU, and that they should be compensated similarly to Senators.

Senator Kristin Jradi (‘21) said it would be helpful to see a breakdown of how the leadership award amount compares to what the hourly pay for each position would be, and expressed concern about how ASWU positions are paid compared to other student leadership positions on campus.

Senator Col Lockard (‘22) asked if other colleges use leadership awards. Holliday stated that Portland State University uses leadership awards. Reed College, which is also in Portland, pays all [student employees an hourly wage of $13.25 with rare exceptions]. $13.25 is the current [minimum wage] for the Portland Metro area. Marion County’s [minimum wage] is currently $12 an hour, but will [increase] to $12.75 July 1. Leadership award calculations were based off the $12.75/hour amount.

All Collegian positions are being moved to leadership award, and Holliday presented the amounts to the Collegian executive team on April 15.

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