By Nikki Papatsoumas
In a shocking move, the Albany Students’ Association Executive are increasing their pay by $26,000 and this money will come straight from students’ pockets.
Late last month, ASA held its Annual General Meeting (AGM). As part of the heated meeting, which was attended by roughly 80 students, changes were made to ASA’s constitution.
As it stands each ASA Executive receives an honoraria – which is paid in lieu of wages and in recognition for work – as opposed to an hourly wage.
This is funded through the student services levy as part of of the association’s service level agreement contract with the university.
At the AGM, changes were made to the constitution which will see honorariums go from $28,000 a year to $54,000 – a $26,000 increase.
Before changes were made to the constitution, ASA’s President Lance Walsh received an honorarium of up to $10,000 a year. This has now increased to $17,000.
The executive say they will be using funding provided via the association’s service level agreement to cover the increase, but this is yet to be secured from the university.
If they can’t secure the money the association’s budget will have to be re-arranged and funding could be taken from core services such as clubs and societies or advocacy.
Walsh stands by the controversial decision, despite facing mixed feedback at the meeting.
“I think the executive need to be properly funded and have an incentive for helping other students. I think the executive’s decision to put $26,000 towards exec honorarium will be beneficial.
“The changes to constitutions makes it easier for an executive to be dismissed provided they have not done what they signed up to do,” he says.
PhD Student Mike Horrell says he is highly concerned that the executive have made changes to ASA’s constitution before money has been obtained from the university as part of service level agreement bids which are currently taking place.
“When they don’t obtain more funding specifically for wages next year there’s only one place the shortfall can come from, out of the services that ASA provide to all students,” he says.
“It’s a case of taking from the many to give to the few. The whole process has been completely dishonest.”
Horrell says some pay needs to be involved to attract people to the position, but doesn’t believe an increase is warranted.
“The ASA is a student union, it’s a non-profit organisation that is supposed to be students working for the betterment of students, not a corporation that can be exploited by those at the top.
“The reward of helping others and gaining experience should be why students join the executive. The pay-out at the end shouldn’t be expected and certainty not guaranteed.”
ASA’s Office Manager Jacqueline Adams says being on the executive has never been a job.
“The focus of the governance committee should be on improving student educational outcomes and experiences whilst studying,” she says.
“Whilst serving on the executive, students are able to gain wide-ranging skills including exposure to high-level management of the university.”
She says she has concerns around the budget, especially if the university does not agree to fund the increase.
“If the President is unable to negotiate the required increase in our contract with the university to cover the increase in the honoraria, the balance will need to come from cash reserves, which would be unsustainable,” she says.
ASA Advocate Penny Lyall says if the university does not grant money to the association, she is concerned about where it will come from.
“I would be concerned if any money were to be directed from the services and activities that the Advocacy Service currently provides.
“Advocacy is an essential and necessary support and safeguard to our students and as such I see it as a primary and critical function that the ASA performs.”
Do you think ASA Executive deserve a pay rise? Did you know the executive position was paid? Send an email to email@example.com