Letter to the Editor: Free tuition rightfully awarded to student leaders

I was very disappointed to read about Ed Klotzbier’s statement regarding the removal of paid tuition for the Student Government Association (SGA) executive board and the Northeastern News editor-in-chief (“Student leaders may lose scholarships,” Feb. 22). I served for a semester as a General Councilor for the Resident Student Association (RSA) last year and witnessed firsthand the unbelievable amount of work, effort and care that e-board members of such large, encompassing organizations put into their positions.

And they do not receive full tuition. I have had roommates who were highly involved in the aforementioned organizations; one is the Assistant National Communications Chair for RSA and another is Assistant Vice President of Administration and Public Relations in SGA. They both put an amazing amount of time and effort into fulfilling their duties. Such responsibilities include heading committees and holding weekly meetings, reporting to the executive board and maintaining communication with, respectively, the General Councilors and senate, and working office hours for the organization. At a minimum, 10 hours a week are spent completing these tasks. And these are the assistants to the e-board. E-board members spend hours more doing the same things, as well as attending e-board meetings, holding more intensive office hours and acting as a liaison between students and Northeastern administration, as well as between Northeastern and the national leaders of the organization. Once again, although I cannot speak to the responsibilities of the editor-in-chief of The Northeastern News, I am sure she spends just as much time and effort as the leaders of SGA, RSA, Council for University Programming (CUP) and any other large, school-wide organization I failed to mention.

I find two significant things wrong with Ed Klotzbier’s statement. First, I do not see the correlation between SGA setting up direct elections and the need to switch the e-board’s compensation to a less-valuable stipend. He claims, “As we go toward a university-wide election, we should have a very structured deal in regard to what SGA compensation looks like.” I think this established tuition compensation looks pretty structured. Certain established positions of these organizations do not pay tuition while serving. Seems clear to me.

Second, Klotzbier said, “From my standpoint, free tuition is not the right way to compensate them.” I strongly disagree with this statement. One reason is that the stipend these six people would be awarded under his plan would be paid out of our Student Activities Fees, which every student pays, rather than the scholarships, which the University absorbs the cost of. Also, it calls into question the motivation of those students who worked hard to earn their positions and the influence it affords them to aid the students of this university, not the tuition benefit.

Anyone involved would tell you free tuition for a year is not worth all that those people do.

The main benefit of awarding them tuition, as I see it, is, for those students who need to work to stay at Northeastern, doing so alleviates the stress of a job and affords them the opportunity to continue serving organizations in which they are deeply involved.

When these students are working so hard for us, I see no reason to place additional obstacles before them. Getting the benefit of free tuition is not the reason these students get involved. Any student who, during direct elections, would dispute these students’ right to the opportunity and convenience of free tuition while serving in their positions would not understand the effort and care the e-board and editor-in-chief put into their jobs. A stipend of lesser value is not an acceptable substitute; rather, administration should extend this privilege to other student group e-boards like RSA and CUP that put in similar effort.

– Lauren Kling is a sophomore biology and education major.

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