Payment for StuCo Members and StuCo Elections

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Making StuCo Positions Paid

StuCo discussed the pros and cons of making StuCo positions paid. Rachel Bell ’10, President of Student Council, suggested that making the positions paid would “broaden the list of people who potentially could serve.” StuCo is planning to collect data or anecdotes to show that, historically, financial concerns have limited the number of students running for StuCo positions. On the other hand, administrators have voiced concern over whether payment for StuCo members would put pressure on the administration to fund other student groups.

StuCo members also suggested that StuCo positions be paid from the Student Activities Fund. Still, most members agreed that this could be problematic because StuCo oversees the Student Budget Committee, which allocates the Student Activities Fund; StuCo also has the ability to overturn SBC decisions. It was also suggested that the cost of paying StuCo be split between the administration and the Student Activity Fund.

Most of StuCo agreed that the student body should have the chance to voice an opinion before any decision about funding is made. StuCo plans to create a survey to judge whether or not the student body thinks that StuCo positions should be paid and also to hold a forum where students can voice their opinions in the near future. StuCo is also planning to write an editorial listing the pros and cons of paying StuCo members.

StuCo also plans to collect data on what other schools similar to Swarthmore do to compensate their Student Council members.

StuCo Elections

StuCo hopes to have students voting for new StuCo members by the third week in April. Still, StuCo hopes to know whether StuCo positions will be funded next year before position openings are publicized.


  • StuCo Lounge will be held on Tuesday, March 30th. The discussion will center on the potential payment of StuCo members.
  • The King of Prussia shuttle will be doing trial runs, hopefully this weekend and the weekend following. Interested students should sign up for the shuttle on the StuCo bulletin board in Parrish.


  1. 0
    Ragin' Cajun says:

    I have some political advice for STUCO. It's generally not a wise idea to consider paying yourselves in the middle of budget cuts. It tends to make people angry.

  2. 0
    Sonja says:

    Correction: Sorry about the date mix up. Due to religious observances, we will be moving the forum to a different date. Be on the look out for some time in the next week.


  3. 0
    Sonja says:

    In response to the concern voiced about the smoking environment of Paces, I would like to make sure everyone is aware of a forum on this topic tentatively set for Friday, April 2nd at 4pm in KOHL Coffee bar. The council would like to hear as many viewpoints as possible and would value any form of constructive comments. If there are any questions on the forum or student council itself, please feel free to email me at sspoo1 or any other StuCo member.Thanks for your comments!

    Sonja Spoo '13
    Appointments Chair

  4. 0
    Confuzzled says:

    Wait a sec – Rachel's email about the Lounge thing suggests that the only payment StuCo is considering is for work-study students. But this article makes it sound like they're talking about paying everybody. Which one is right? Also, would paying work-study students just be the same as covering the work-study component of their financial aid? That I'd be okay with.

  5. 0
    Mycroft says:

    While I understand that speaking "in person" is probably the most ideal way to go about debating this, the fact of the matter is that Andy Reid is right – most Swatties are not comfortable going up to other Swatties and telling them that they don't deserve to get paid. This is a sensitive topic about people who we see and interact with on a regular basis, so a face-to-face voicing of opinion is probably not the best way to go about resolving the issue.

    Furthermore, although I'll probably get bashed for this, having the meeting in a smoking environment prevents those students who can't be around smoke (asthma, allergies, hatred of the smell, etc.) from participating.

    All that being said, I can't believe that StuCo actually is considering paying themselves. There are tons of unpaid positions at Swat that are integral to our community and require a large time committment (e.g. RA Selection Committee, Housing Committee, SAC). Students serve in these positions because they care about the issues being addressed. Offering a monetary incentive is unnecessary to fill the positions on StuCo and, as okk said, undermines the intrinsic reward of doing the best job you can toward representing the student body.

  6. 0
    Luis Penate says:

    Dear Gazette readers,

    It is nice to see that students feel so passionate about this issue. Student Council appreciates your input and your concerns. Please, come to StuCo Lounge this Tuesday (from 10-11pm at Paces Cafe) to talk to us about it. IN PERSON, we want to see all of your lovely faces.

    I hope you all have a great week.

    Luis Peñate
    Student Events Advisor

  7. 0
    Andy Reid says:

    I'd just like to say that I don't think the chat about paying student council is going to work if you're trying to get a broad view of the viewpoints on campus… Swatties are awkward as hell, and I very much doubt that people will have the gumption to actually tell StuCo people to their faces that they shouldn't be paid, even if they think it. Fortunately, we do have the lack of courage required to post anonymously on articles like these!

    Also, how much money are we talking here? Because, like, doing some basic math:
    Say there are like 25 weeks in both semester, 10 StuCo people (is that right? something like that), and we're paying $8 an hour. Suppose each works 6 hours a week; altogether, it comes out to $12,000. That's, um, a lot of money.

  8. 0
    Urooj Khan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I would suggest that before Student Council does anything, it should have members rigorously log hours worked for StuCo, and state the activity. Something like:

    Activity: Charter Committee Meeting
    Hours: 2
    Accomplished: Approved re-charter for Knit-Wits, etc.

    Students who are concerned could evaluate the logs over say a period of a week or two, and then make a decision if they think it's worthwhile. I think StuCo *is* very different from other activities because they have a great deal of decision making power. DU can't do a whole lot about how the Deans' Office does or does not support students, but StuCo certainly can.

    I think the Media shuttle is awesome, and can't wait for the Bike program. Marx, is there a specific issue that you think there HAS been student outcry over that StuCo could actually affect? StuCo can do very little about Tarble policies (though it did extend the hours) or the food at Sharples. Things like "bike program" or whatever might sound like small achievements, but as someone who has been involved in these sorts of things, they require a lot of time and a lot of effort and bureaucracy to deal with.

    I also think that StuCo should ensure that no one who is currently in office and voted for the pay increase could benefit from it. That's how Congress figures out its pay raises, and removes the conflict of interest.

  9. 0
    Samantha says:

    I agree that electing representatives from dorms would be completely pointless and accomplish nothing other than provoking public rage about lack of representation for off-campus students.

  10. 0
    $TUCO says:

    The challenge still stands, STUCO. What have you accomplished? Why are you so awesome that you can justify raiding the Student Activities Fund? I know you guys are reading this.

  11. 0
    Just a thought says:

    I have a low cost alternative. $TUCO could actually start taking its job seriously THEN interest in $TUCO would increase THEN more people would want to run for $TUCO. The lack of talent and interest $TUCO claims to be concerned about is entirely of their own making.

    $TUCO accomplishing things = more interest in $TUCO = better candidates

    It's not hard, guys. I know most of you personally and you seem to be reasonable, smart people. What on earth happens at $TUCO meetings?

  12. 0
    Ragin' Cajun says:

    I have some political advice for STUCO. It's generally not a wise idea to consider paying yourselves in the middle of budget cuts. It tends to make people angry.

  13. 0
    A says:

    How exactly would electing student representatives by dorms do anything to make them more responsive, let alone go "a long way towards" it? Is there an oppressed group of Dana students somewhere, who day after day bring their lowly petitions to STUCO, only to have them off-handedly rejected by the Worth partisans?
    But seriously, how is organizing STUCO by dorm any less arbitrary than voting in reps. by class year, major, or whether they're of the pro- or anti-pasta bar party? In fact, isn't it kind of MORE arbitrary, since at least all those examples are ways that students, through their opinions, interests, and choices (or age, I guess) have actually voluntarily grouped themselves, and therefore might actually have concerns that are similar to each other and which non-members might not know?
    But housing is semi-arbitrarily assigned, it changes every year, and all the dorms are pretty much the same, really.
    Also I just can't imagine that among the students, their biggest concerns about the school that reps. need to address are based around what specific dorm they live in. And even if a toilet is backing up that keeps not getting fixed, I'm pretty sure the concerned students could just go to a STUCO member that they know from their classes, clubs, or sports teams, and tell them, and I'm sure the STUCO members have enough empathy to feel that student's pain, even though they aren't a member of that DK minority and therefore can never truly understand what they are going through.
    Not to mention that the dorm thing doesn't resolve the problem you posed in your call to action, namely: "a few people having control of so much in this school." And that it's slightly contradictory to assert both that student council hasn't accomplished anything, and that they have "control of so much." Can you control something if you don't actually do anything to…you know…control it?
    And maybe you should do some opinions polls to actually get data about whether what student council has done is popular/desired or not. I DO remember a public outcry (well, a public out-asknicely) for a Media shuttle, at least. If you go back to the DG column that reported minutes for the week they voted on that, I'm pretty sure people were happy about it. Not to mention that whether you want Student Council to get paid or not, it's true that this was an issue that has come up for a couple years among the students, mostly at the same time as NOTA campaigns. Whether you agree with it or not, this WAS a direct response to students.
    I don't have any particularly strong feelings about STUCO itself, but if you're going to call for the radical restructuring of something, you should probably have actual ideas, and those actual ideas should probably be demonstrably better than the current system, instead of just silly.

  14. 0
    seriously? says:

    Do you expect to vote on each of the members of every committee? How many students would actually want to spend their time on voting for 50+ people every time? What would be better is to have transparency in order to see how exactly committee members and leaders are chosen, the procedure and the people who actually pick these people. Then we could judge if the people we have in our committees are worthwhile and have been chosen properly.

  15. 0
    Marx says:

    Also, I should be constructive if I am going to criticize. A nice start would be to elect representatives based on dorms. I know this would exclude a small number of off-campus students but it would go a long way towards making student government more responsive to the community.

  16. 0
    Marx says:

    This is the exact problem. I don't remember any public outcry for a Media shuttle or bike share program. Most students (I know) are concerned with bread-and-butter issues like housing, food, and academics. STUCO is an insular organization and focuses on personal pet projects and does little to reach out to the people they supposedly represent.

    As for the committees, I have just one question. Who appoints people to committees? Last time I checked nobody was ever voted into a committee.

    Also, I should add that I have a unique insight into student government. I used to be on the inside of the system and saw how it didn't work.

    We need radical structural changes to our student government if it is ever going to work for the students. If we don't, we'll keep seeing hair-brained initiatives like this one.

  17. 0
    Ramya Gopal ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don't think that it's accurate to suggest "so few people" have control over this school, since the school does have many committees of which a significant portion have student representatives.

    As for things that StuCo has accomplished, media shuttle and bike sharing are the two most recent changes that come to mind.

  18. 0
    Marx says:

    Swarthmore's ruling class is obsessed with DG comments so I know that they've seen this challenge. I second Skeptical's motion. Let's hear it, STUCO. What have you actually accomplished?

    If you can't list anything, I suggest we reform student government so it works for the students. I am sick of a few people having control of so much in this school.

  19. 0
    Skeptical says:

    That too. I'd actually like to call Student Council out to post what precisely each one of them has done this semester. Like a specific "I have accomplished ______" this semester. Prove me wrong.

    I'm sure our funds will be well spent on paying them to make videos like this!!! How many man hours did this cost???

    Maybe we should pay people in every extracurricular. I would have joined DU if I didn't have to work my darn library shift…

  20. 0
    Deivid Rojas says:

    Dear All,

    Thank you for your comments, questions, and concerns. Though I will not respond to any direct comments here, I encourage you to directly write to me or set up a coffee/dinner date, if there are still concerns. I hope that we can have a respective and constructive conversation.

    Thank You,

    Deivid Rojas'11

  21. 0
    The Destroyer says:

    I don't really understand how cross dressing helps support our LGBT friends. Most of my gay friends do not cross dress.

  22. 0
    Bigger Picture says:

    I would encourage STUCO to look past its own concerns and see the bigger picture of economic inequality at our school.

  23. 0
    okk says:

    intro to psychology: when you provide an external reward (money) for an intrinsically rewarding activity (working on stuco), you undermine the intrinsic reward, and thereafter that activity will be done only for the sake of the external reward

  24. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Omg, Andy Reid actually wrote a kind of, sort of, tangentially relevant post! Is the new commenting system working??

    The funny thing is the "stuco should be paid" folks and the "stop spamming our email" folks are actually arguing fir similar goals: ensuring a diversity of opinion, and not just opinions of those in power. For the stuco paid peeps, this means ensuring people who can afford free work aren't the only ones giving opinions on stuco, and for the spam peeps this means ensuring that the people in power (stuco pres, people with links to administrators) don't have the ability to have their communication priveleged over everyone else's (not about whether it's a worthy cause, but about the fairness of the process).

    So, yeah… I don't really care about either issue. I'm just killing time. That is all.

  25. 0
    feeling pragmatic says:

    Isn't everyone at Swarthmore busy and unable to devote time in their own rights?

    Isn't there something to be said of the StuCo members that they cared enough about being members of StuCo that they made the time to do so?

    People join StuCo because they care about college-wide issues, not for the pay…so why start now?

    Should athletes, cultural and other groups now begin getting paid because they like a sport, or saving the environment?

  26. 0
    feeling peripheral says:

    While I agree that Deivid's use of his email power may have been a bit heavy handed, I would by no means call his email "spam." He brought up some extremely important concerns (though maybe not explicitly enough) about issues surrounding the Genderfuck party, namely that it does not so much allow for students to explore and challenge gender identities, but seems to instead reinforce standard gender dynamics, only with less clothing on both sides. While the Queer Symposium looks amazing this year, by nature a symposium limits the time and space in which to engage in these conversations. While our campus is technically "queer friendly," the fact that the majority of its students identify as straight naturally leads to a lack of "queer" spaces on campus (ideally, those who identify as queer should feel completely comfortable with their identity anywhere on campus. This is currently not the case), unless we intentionally change that. Again, perhaps the manner in which these issues were presented was not entirely appropriate, but it was a message the entire student body should take notice of.

    In regards to STUCO members getting paid, it seems to me that it is not "greedy politicians" hoarding away money, but busy students who have very real financial needs. I, for one, could not be a member of STUCO because I have to make time for work-study. I see paying STUCO members as a different issue than the hypothetical presented about paying members of clubs because STUCO is a decision-making body that has influence over many aspects of Swat life. I think it is essential to have a system in place that allows a diversity of perspectives to be heard in STUCO, and that is impossible if a portion of the student population cannot afford to devote that time.

  27. 0
    ummmmm says:

    STUCU sickens me. I now regret having voted in the last election. I know that student council is supposed to teach about democracy… but all Swarthmore STUCO has taught me is how greedy politicians are.

  28. 0
    Lil Wayne says:

    i thought that u had to actually produce something to get paid. all stuco seems to do is hold an endless series of meetings….

    also, i demand to be paid for writing this immature comment. i could have been working in the time it took to write it. the only way dg comments are going to get better is to pay comment writers.

  29. 0
    Seriously guys? says:

    The fact that you all see Deivid's email as spam is the reason why it was so needed. NONE of you think it was necessary to think about and give support to groups of people who live in fear for their lives if they were to be themselves. People who experience hate crimes, and threats. People who inhabit our community. Deivid's email was not spam thrown out arbitrarily or for some groups benefit. Deivid was doing what he should be doing – looking out for the student body and creating a voice for those who do not frequently have a voice.

    If you all view that as spam then thats sad.

  30. 0
    Andy Reid says:

    Susan Smythe brings up an interesting point, should we only pay people because there is no one willing to do the job for free? That's pretty much straight out of econ theory, though people might not like it too much… because there clearly are people willing to do it for free, although it seems to take some amount of tabling/harassment by current student council members to get enough candidates.

    Also, yeah, those emails from Deivid are getting kind of annoying in their frequency. I'd stop reading them, but sometimes they actually have useful information. He should just wrote a Daily Gazette column or something since too many of seem to use this site to procrastinate. Would it be relevant to the student body if I sent out an email, like, say, this one:

    "Dear Swatties:

    Hope everyone is doing well.

    I come with you with an interesting proposal. Does anyone want to play football tomorrow afternoon? It should be a pretty nice day outside, meet at Mertz field at like 2pm if you're interested. I'll bring a football.

    This last Saturday was around the one month mark until the NFL draft. Though I think the draft is great and fun time overall, its very purpose is very limited. Its limited in that people engage in football (some) in a festive/alcohol manner that almost serves as a justification to dress a certain manner (in your favorite team's jersey) and yell at your team for drafting scrubs like Matt Stafford. The draft also happens in a very limited space on ESPN. In essence, the real meaning of football gets lost.

    Hopefully, this will spark and engage more students in conversations about football, athletics, and exercise in general. I will be wearing a t-shirt and gym shorts, and invite people to do so too and stand in solidarity. Of course only do so if you feel safe and comfortable. Let's make it happen!

    Thank You all,
    Endorsed by Swarthmore Athletic Coucil"

    I would argue that this email was absolutely relevant to my point as satire… don't delete it plz DG staff?

    But seriously, football tomorrow on Mertz field.

  31. 0
    dole_groupie says:

    Also, what does "Endorsed by Student Council" mean?

    I'd really like some *transparency* here–the whole stated point of the constant spamming based on political interests of those sending the propaganda in the first place…

  32. 0
    Susan Smythe says:

    All I can say is that I started at the College in 1985 as the first Student Activities Coordinator, and this issue came up frequently then – that no one could/would do it without pay – and yet, clearly people have been for all this time. I think a more salient issue is what are the goals of StuCo, and what problems are they trying to solve, and are those goals and problems compelling enough to get people to work on them gratis. If an issue is truly important and worthwhile, people will give all kinds of time to it – for that see many other student organizations – but I think what StuCo has been missing – again – ever since '85 (and probably before) is a true mission. However, that being said, I think the current group is doing a good job of finding one.

    I will also say that I feel I have some scope to comment here – not only because of prior Swarthmore experience, but in my current role as Swarthmore Borough's Council President – we put a heck of a lot of time in, with no compensation – and there keep being candidates – because there are compelling issues.

    thanks – hope I'm not butting in too freely.

  33. 0
    Bob Dole says:

    So I'm not going to be able to make it to StuCo lounge. Instead I'll bitch here:

    I don't have a problem with paying StuCo members, in general. However, I don't want to see money going to those who abuse their power. In this case I'm thinking of using one's access to emailing the entire student body to spam us about all sorts of things.

    If a college VP is emailing us about a blood drive, that's ok with me. I don't think anyone would disagree and say that a blood drive is a bad thing. But saying that maybe we should crossdress, genderfuck style, to show our support for queering the community? Nothing wrong with that — don't get me wrong, if you want to go for it, please do. I support you. But what that email really amounted to was "Hey guys, I had a cool idea. I can email all of campus and tell them about it!" Which is not really cool.

    I needed to bitch about the spam where it would be seen. This seemed a good place.

  34. 0
    Tonks says:

    "StuCo is planning to collect data or anecdotes to show that, historically, financial concerns have limited the number of students running for StuCo positions"

    IF, financial concerns have limited the number of students running for StuCo, than isn't it logical that financial concenrs have limited student participation in other extra curricular activities as well? I understand why stuco would seek a solution in their problem by paying its members. However, isn't the bigger issue whether students on financial aid should work for a part of it when other students do not have to?

  35. 0
    Rachel Bell says:

    Jen and Will,

    All stuco members present at the meeting agreed that the student body should have a say in this, after the pros/cons have been thoroughly represented. More on those pros/cons to come. We only had 8/10 members present for the full meeting, so I'm guessing that's why Nick said "most" rather than all.

    Please let me know if you have any more questions.

  36. 0
    Deivid Rojas says:

    I believe that there was a student council consensus that student feedback on this issue is vital. No StuCo member disagreed with this.

    Perhaps because two of our members were not present, the writer did not write "all".

    Hopes this answers your concern.

    Deivid Rojas'11
    StuCo VP

  37. 0
    Jen says:

    "Most of StuCo agreed that the student body should have the chance to voice an opinion before any decision about funding is made."

    Most? Who didn't think we should get a say?

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