SG cuts salaries, but its tasks should remain the same

Student Government passed its budget last week, one that is smaller than past years. Overall, SG is operating on $147,870 less this year. With such a drop in expenditures, there are bound to be cuts, and we’re pleased to see that SG salaries are among these.

The budget includes $12,025 in salary cuts for the legislative and executive paid positions, the Kernel reported last week. It is positive and encouraging to see leaders in SG lower their pay in a tight budget, freeing up more money for student services and projects — the kind of things SG has an obligation to do. After all, student fees do pay SG staff’s salaries.

But it is also important for students and SG members to realize that reduced compensation should not translate to reduced work. SG members are elected and paid with student money — public money — and are public officials by default. With the addition of their titles, these individuals lose the luxury to ease on work ethic, especially for monetary reasons.

Some have called for SG members to forfeit their salary in the past and use all the remaining funds for student services, but there are several reasons this wouldn’t be wise.

First, salaries bring accountability. A paid position has more weight and responsibility with the job. Also there is increased pressure to deliver results with a salary. And in this case, it’s a partnership. Students give some of their money and SG staff supply funding and services to the students.

Salaries also allow for more time for members to focus on their duty as SG officers instead of working at other jobs. True, this point isn’t foolproof, and some officers could take a paycheck without earning it. But it is better to rely on how the system is supposed to work rather than placing an increased strain on these students. They did want this responsibility and there should be functions, salaries included, to ensure that they can do their job effectively.

Lastly, even if SG dissolved paid positions and used the extra money for projects or services, there’s no guarantee students would actually see the results from the funding boost. And considering the track records of past SG administrations, it is more likely than not that the money would do little good.

But there are other areas of the budget SG could cut to free up some funds. The administration will be spending $1,500 for cameras for the Johnson Center so students can view a Web feed of the workout areas on the SG Web site. The cameras would allow students to see if it is crowded or if machines they want to use are open, SG President Nick Phelps said in a recent Kernel article.

The idea might have some merit, but when the budget is already tight, it’s a questionable expenditure. Somewhere on campus, a student organization could surely benefit more from $1,500 than students will benefit from seeing the inside of the Johnson Center while they’re still at home.

It’s comparable to having a camera monitor the Kroger parking lot so you’ll know when a good spot is available. Students might be able to check on machines or crowding, but what they see will surely change during the 15-minute drive or walk to the center. There’s not going to be anything to stop one of those freshmen in Blanding Tower, just a jump away from the Johnson Center, from taking your beloved machine — and nor should there be.

With such a reduced budget to work with this year, it’s promising to see that SG officers are so willing to cut their own salaries to continue supporting campus services. But when every dollar counts, putting cameras in the Johnson Center isn’t quite a worthwhile expense.