Joseph Arquillo, LSOE ’17, has proposed a referendum for this week’s Undergraduate Government of Boston College election that would eliminate stipends for executive officers in UGBC. In order to get on the ballot, the referendum requires Arquillo to obtain signatures from one-eighth of undergraduate students, which he had not as of Sunday night.
For the 2016-17, UGBC’s budget allocated $4,000 for the president’s stipend, $3,500 for the executive vice president’s stipend, and $2,000 for the vice presidents of each of UGBC’s divisions. The stipends account for $17,500 out of this year’s budget of $328,000.
Russell Simons, UGBC president and MCAS ’17, said in an email that he thinks stipends for UGBC executive positions are fundamental to make sure students have equal access to leadership roles at BC.
“No student should be precluded from serving in these positions, representing the voices of their peers, and playing essential roles in campus dialogue, because of financial constraint,” he said. “The alternative would be a system that unacceptably discriminates against students who rely on a source of income to make their attendance at the University possible.”
Arquillo ran for UGBC executive vice president last year, with Niki Patel, CSOM ’17, as the presidential candidate, and placed third. He was vocal in the campaign about his intention not to accept the stipend if he won.
Arquillo pointed out other clubs that put in significant amounts of time and do not get stipends, including Relay for Life, the Campus Activities Board, and the Student Organization Funding Committee. Representatives from CAB and SOFC declined to comment.
“Somebody who is a student leader on campus, who puts in countless hours in helping put on Relay for Life, as well as the running club, it just for me is very dismissive of all of the countless hours of work that I’ve put in,” Arquillo said.
He said people he has talked to about the referendum are surprised by the amount of money that goes toward stipends. UGBC’s budget is funded by about $36 of every undergraduate’s $330 annual student activity fee. The stipends amount to less than $2 out of that total fee.
Arquillo thinks officers who have work study should be able to allocate some of their work study hours toward UGBC, in order to continue making money while also serving in their roles.
Mark Miceli, the associate director for student engagement in the Office of Student Involvement, who is an adviser to UGBC, said that in his 14 years at BC this issue has come up periodically. In 1985, members of the UGBC Senate voted to prohibit the president from granting a stipend to the EVP or any other member of UGBC appointed by the president, only to have it vetoed by the outgoing president, Jeff Thielman, BC ’85. It came up again in 2007, when the Senate considered an initiative to eliminate the stipend and create a work-study program on a need-only basis.
Miceli said every student has the right to try to get a referendum on the ballot, and said he’s not for or against it.
“Generally speaking, when you look at undergraduate student government, the role and responsibility of UGBC is to really be the student voice,” Miceli said. “A lot of the time that work that’s required for these positions is extensive, and offering students a stipend is a way for some of them to be able to do it and not have to have an off-campus job.”