Students fail to attend a forum reviewing the stipend system

Charged with suggesting changes to Portland State’s student stipend system, the Educational Stipend Policy Review Committee held an open forum yesterday to solicit input from students.

The problem was, barring two student members of the committee and a Vanguard reporter sent to cover the forum, not a single student showed up.

The committee is holding a second forum today Thursday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. in SMSU room 236.

Among issues that the stipend committee are considering are an across the board increase to stipends, and reorganizing the matrix for determining stipend levels to make the system more flexible.

“There has been almost no student input on this committee, which will be making a recommendation for the way student fees are being allocated,” said Myron Kingsbury, a student who serves on the committee. Kingsbury receives a stipend himself, as station manager of campus radio station KPSU and also as a comic cartoon contributor at the Vanguard.

“This still requires approval of the student government, but by that point I highly doubt there will be room for recommendations and input,” Kingsbury said.

Over 1,000 students at Portland State receive stipends for what the university describes as “para-professional” jobs at the university. These jobs include student government leaders, student group coordinators and campus media employees. Stipend positions pay a flat monthly rate, typically between $200 and $700 a month, depending on the job’s perceived commitment level.

Stipends are funded by student fees, which all students pay each term. The student fee is currently $137 per term for full-time students, but may increase by $30 in 2007 if the current student fee budget is approved.

A recent survey conducted by the Vanguard revealed that many students who receive stipends work far more hours in a typical week than the hours listed in their job descriptions.