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Rutgers University Student Assembly does not reach decision on bill

<b>Students queue to speak at the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s meeting the evening of Feb. 19 at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus. </b>AARON SAVAGE
Photo by Photo by Aaron Savage | The Daily Targum<b>Students queue to speak at the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s meeting the evening of Feb. 19 at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus. </b>AARON SAVAGE

After hours of debate, the Rutgers University Student Assembly never reached a decision Thursday night on a controversial bill that would offer more than $10,000 in monetary compensation for the group's executive board.

The proposal, which would allocate $15,904 a semester to compensate its 12 executive board members, was neither approved nor rejected.

“There is no resolution as to whether the bill is active or not, it’s just tabled indefinitely,” said Jacob Nieman, vice president of RUSA.

But if the proposal is passed at another time, an amendment has been made to the bill stating that RUSA must obtain 100 percent of the funding for the stipend from an outside source, said Nieman, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

If an outside source does not fully fund the proposal by the end of the summer, then the bill would be null and void, Nieman said. Outside sources include grants, a corporate benefactor or even a very wealthy alumni, he said.

Sam Clark, author of the bill, gave a presentation on the proposal before amendments and motions were made. He noted that the proposal would go into effect next year, not this year.

Money would not come from student fees, said Clark, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. He said his greatest goal is not having the bill negatively affect other student organizations.

“One of the weaknesses of the bill that I openly admit is that it does not outline where the money is coming from,” he said. “If this does come to fruition, we’d be looking primarily at grants.”

Justin Lucero, treasurer for RUSA, explained why other student organizations will not see budget cuts as a result of the proposal.

“Student fees are collected and certain groups are directly advised, so they get a budget assigned to them,” said Lucero, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “… If we keep this cost within the budget we are assigned each year, it won’t spill over to other groups.”

Clark, who has been working on the proposal for three months, said one reason he wrote the bill is because he strongly believes students from all walks of life should have the opportunity to run for RUSA without having to work multiple jobs.

“I would be a better parliamentarian if I didn’t have to work two jobs,” he said.

According to the proposal, the president of RUSA would receive $2,688 each semester and be required to work a minimum of 16 hours per week.

The vice president and treasurer would both receive $1,680 each semester and be required to work at least 14 hours per week.

Many have speculated whether people would run for RUSA positions simply to receive the stipend. But Clark said the average RUSA pay would only be about $9.50 an hour.

Rutgers students have seen many improvements at Rutgers due to the work of RUSA, Clark said. He believes the executive board and committee chairs deserve to be compensated and will work more diligently if paid.

“Who here remembers the L route?” Clark asked. “RUSA is responsible for replacing the L route with the LX route that we all know and love.”

But after the presentation, there still was no decision to approve or reject the proposal, Nieman said.

A second bill was passed at last night’s meeting that will establish a veteran seat in RUSA. RUSA is a growing body for all students, and veterans represent a significant part of that population, said Natasha Marchick, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

“Veterans need the academic resources and voting resources that every student on campus has,” she said.

The seat will be chosen by RU SERVS, a student organization on campus that represents all Rutger’s University students who have both undertaken the responsibilities of defending our nation’s freedom and being a student, she said.

“Rutgers is currently number three in the nation for veterans," she said. "We want Rutgers to be number one.”

Avalon Zoppo is a Rutgers Business School first-year student majoring in pre-business. She is an Associate News Editor of The Daily Targum. Follow @AvalonZoppo for more stories.