The Student Government Association (SGA) is restructuring how it compensates its workers in the coming months, in part by moving to an hourly wage system.
This change has caused cuts to stipends for Marketing Communications Officers (MCOs) and interim proxies starting Jan. 1, 2020, when the hourly wage system takes effect. Interim proxies are the individuals that take over for SGA employees that study abroad during interim.

The change to an hourly system is in accordance with federal law, SGA Chief Financial Officer George Bongart ’20 said.

“If you average out how much work they’re doing, especially when it comes to coordinators, to how much they’re getting paid, they’re well under the minimum wage,” Bongart said. “The government doesn’t like that. So starting Jan. 1, we’re switching from stipend to hourly – the normal $9.90 rate – and that is causing us to pay our coordinators more.”

“So starting Jan. 1, we’re switching from stipend to hourly – the normal $9.90 rate – and that is causing us to pay our coordinators more.”
– George Bongart ’20

The transition from stipends to hourly wages means branch coordinators will be compensated more fairly for their involvement. The relative increase in pay for coordinators has necessitated the restructuring, which Bongart and other members of SGA are preparing for.

“We have taken action to allow [coordinators] to cut back on some stuff so we don’t have to pay them as much,” Bongart said. “But that is causing our budget for branches and other workers to be cut down, such as the MCOs.”

Aside from the federal law, one of the causes of the compensation restructuring involves deciding which officers should receive compensation for their work and which should not. While the MCO holds significant responsibilities in certain branches, their role is more diminished in others.

Claire Shaw ’21, coordinator of the Student Organizations Committee (SOC), chose to move the stipend from the MCO to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of their branch.

“This year I chose to move the stipend from the MCO to our CFO because SOC rarely requires marketing and other promotional designs,” Shaw said. “This was something discussed last year.”

Other branches, such as the Volunteer Network, don’t choose to issue stipends to their workers.

“The work is split up equally among different members so that all of the officers do about the same amount of work – none of whom get stipends,” said coordinator of the Volunteer Network Katie DeFoe ’20. “Because of this, the stipend cuts will not affect our branch.”
Overall, the changes to pay structures within SGA will cause all branches to reconsider how they manage their individual workloads.

“The work varies a ton between the different branches, and some branches need an MCO to put in more work,” Bongart said. “Other branches need their financial officer or another position to do more.”

During the restructuring process, SGA executives maintained open discussions with branch coordinators and other affected parties to ensure proper transparency as these changes occurred, according to SGA President and Vice-President Devon Nielsen ’20 and Ariel Mota Alves ’20.

SGA will continue to consider how it structures itself in the months leading up to the switch to an hourly wage system, with more changes to positions possible. The specifics or extent of these changes have not been established.

marand1@stolaf.edu
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