The cheque's in the mail
Opinions / January 14, 2014
But is anyone paying attention to the KSA?
By The Runner
Every year, for as long as our editors can remember, the Kwantlen Student Association has had one item that seems to recur as a topic of discussion on their meeting agenda: how much they get paid. While a few occasions have resulted in the KSA officials reducing their pay, more often than not, the conversation results in an increase in pay, This occurred again at last week’s meeting, where they voted to give their executives a nearly 50 per cent pay increase, resulting in $960 bi-weekly paycheques, as of April 1.
While most student officials across the province are doing very important work to provide services to the students on their campuses, there are many instances where they are simply overpaid. We are all in favour of students being paid an actual living wage, but there are too many instances of representatives being paid exorbitant amounts to do nothing. It is rare for a student association to have adequate measures in place to hold their representatives accountable to students, and usually those in charge of holding anyone accountable are a part of the exclusive club themselves—fellow executives who want to get paid just as much as their counterparts. It goes a little something like this: “Oh, you haven’t done anything required of you in your job description? That’s okay, I’ll sign your cheque for you anyway, because I really need you to vote in favour of funding my event.”
At the KSA, the representatives have been so intently focused on their own pay that other, more important issues have fallen to the wayside. While other student unions have been diligently working to leave the Canadian Federation of Students, at Kwantlen, student organizers failed to collect enough signatures to try to leave the national organization this year. The KSA could also have been focusing on rising tuition costs, and better communication with students, but instead they’ve been sitting around discussing their wages, every year. Each time they discuss how much they should get paid, there is the underlying fact that they are actually discussing how much they want to get paid.
Student politicians often start out with good intentions, but give them a few months in the business and all of a sudden they think they know everything better than anyone. There is a degree of self-importance that comes with being an elected representative, because they soon figure out that no one else on campus knows, or cares, about what they’re doing. And sadly, they’re right. They walk around like they own the place, but do you even know who they are? What efforts have been made to make sure they wander out of the KSA office to actually meet people on each of our campuses? It is up to us now to let the KSA know that we are paying attention, and that this constant debate on how much they should get paid is not a conversation that needs to happen every single year.
It’s a tricky topic to deal with, because we want the best candidates possible to run for the KSA positions, so that we have the strongest people looking after our student fees and spending the money in a way that benefit us as students. But at the end of the day, it should be up to the membership of the KSA to decide how much our elected officials get paid—not the people who are essentially arbitrarily writing and signing their own cheques.