Proposal would increase student stipends 10 percent

A Portland State committee set to review the student stipend policy is finalizing a proposal that would increase student stipends by 10 percent across campus.

The stipend increase is based on time commitment and job descriptions of what students encounter during their work. If the proposal is passed, it would take $3 of the $30 student fee increase per student to be enacted next year, according to Tonantzin Oceguera, director of Student Activities and Leadership Programs and stipend committee member.

“I think it still acknowledges the cost of living has increased,” she said. “Students need to be paid at least equitably in that sense.”

The increase includes a matrix of five categories: students working in student organizations, student management positions in student funded services, student organizations, university service organizations and positions that require exceptional responsibility.

The categories range from 6 hours a week to 21 hours a week, and include paid wages from $235 per month to $940 per month.

Wendy Endress, dean of students, assembled the Educational Stipend Policy Review Committee in mid-September to review a stipend process that remained untouched for nearly three years, since 2003. When the proposal is finalized, it will be sent to Endress for review, and then submitted to the faculty senate that will determine if it will be initiated, according to Oceguera.

Myron Kingsbury, station manager of the Portland State radio station KPSU and committee member, said the Student Fee Committee still must vote on the proposed increase, but has already put aside the $3 per student amount to go toward the increase. The Student Fee Committee is charged with allocating over $8.1 million in student fees to Portland State’s nearly 100 student groups, including athletics and the Vanguard.

Many students who receive stipends say they do not receive enough money to live off the stipends, but administrators say stipend jobs are available to students as a learning position with compensation, rather than a means to fund their living

Kingsbury said that most students in positions such as his own are required to work long hours beyond the 20 hours a week prescribed by the stipend. He said at KPSU his job at station manager requires enough work himself and a person hired outside of the school.

“I’d be happy if there were a station manager outside,” he said.

He felt there were other options, such as tuition remission, that would work better for students in this position, but does not believe the university administration would agree to such a policy.

“The university doesn’t care enough to make tuition remission happen for student employees,” Kingsbury said.

Oceguera said this update would make the working life more affordable and realistic for students, although she does not think the stipend is meant to be a living wage. She said a strong amount of student input into the decision making process allowed for them to make an informed decision.

“For me it acknowledges the work and time commitment that students put into student groups,” she said.

Todd Bauch, coordinator of the Outdoor Program and committee member, said five stipend paid students work within the outdoor program. He said that since the stipend had not been changed since 2003, and the minimum wage has increased since then, it was time to recalibrate the stipend.

Bauch said the work students do should not take longer hours than what is designated.

“We’re from the standpoint that people are students,” he said. “They can’t be working for 35 hours when getting paid for 20.”

The stipend committee held two public forums to hear comments on and discuss the possibility of an increase. During the first forum, the two student committee members and a Vanguard reporter sent to cover the event were the only students who attended.

The new policy revisions will also move stipend policy from only being included in the SALP policy manual, to be added to the SFC guidelines in order to cover student groups not part of SALP.