Executive candidates debate pay at St. James

Modi and Mortimore discuss changes to board members’ pay at the final debate of the SA election

Story updated on April 6 at 5:49 p.m. with a comment from Brittney DaCosta 

The wages of the Student Association’s (SA) board members might change again, if Value Voices Virtue (V3) is elected, according to the slate’s director of equity candidate, Sheldon Mortimore.

Bylaws that were changed at the SA’s Spring General Meeting in March included a nearly 26 per cent decrease in wages for education and constituency representatives. A 24 per cent increase for members of the board’s executive members was also passed, as well as a 5.8 per cent increase in campus directors’ pay.

The SA funds The Dialog.

Under the new structure, education and constituency representatives, as well as campus directors, will make $14.25 an hour while executives will make $17. According to the current bylaws, which expire on May 1, the constituency and education representatives made $5,000 per year for five hours a week, which works out to $19.23 an hour.

At yesterday’s election debates at St. James, Mortimore said that V3 slate would push to “correct” the decreases in constituency and education representatives’ pay and decrease executive wages.

“Going on (the board) and looking at the pay structure is not important,” said Mortimore. “Going in there, hearing the voices of the students, focusing on the students, that is what the Student Association is all about.”

Riddhi Modi, Act Now’s candidate for the director of communications internal position, defended the changes to the board’s pay structure and said that they would benefit future board members, and help ensure that “everyone feels that they are paid according to what the work is.”

She said that prior to the pay changes, the executives and campus directors made between $13-$14 an hour. The idea behind the pay changes, according to Modi, was to make wages more “equitable and equal.”

Under the new pay structure, SA board executives will make $35,360 a year pro-rated. An investigation by The Ubyssey, The Gazette and The Varsity student newspapers indicates that the average wage for 16 universities’ student union executives is $34,970.

“Until you are in that (executive) position, you really cannot know what the work is,” Modi said. “And all of the executive positions aim at being present there in comparison to the other positions.”

Act Now’s Alex Stewart, Brittney DaCosta and V3’s Harjit Singh Dua were not at the St. James debates and had statements read on their behalf. Stewart and DaCosta did not attend any of the three debates.

Burrowes was sympathetic to DaCosta’s workload and the demands on her as a mother, but added that time management is part of the director of campus life role.

“I had a project today too, and I’ve had projects all week and I’ve still been here for each debate,” said Burrowes.

At the debate, chief returning officer (CRO) Charles Wilson said that DaCosta was unable to attend the debate because she couldn’t get an extension on an assignment.

DaCosta did not appreciate Burrowes’ comment about her being a parent. The Act Now director of campus life candidate said that Burrowes should have left the CRO’s explanation stand rather than getting personal.

DaCosta said that for the last year she has successfully juggled work and her personal life as the director of campus life.

“I have given my all to my position, so I don’t think that it was right for her to mention that,” said DaCosta.

Today is the last day that students can cast ballots for the election. Polling stations close at 4 p.m.

Facebook Live video of the SA executive debate at St. James


Executive candidates debate pay at St. James