Justine Landis-Hanley helps you get to know your student representatives
USU Board Election campaigns are set to kick off soon, and a lot of us are falling into a state of voter apathy. Why should we bother voting at all, let alone worry about making an informed decision?
Possibly because, though it can be easy to forget, these roles carry with them not only substantial responsibilities, but substantial compensation. Some student representatives are paid more money per year than the average student will see during their entire Undergraduate degree.
This money comes from students. Given that, it is up to us to act as the check-and-balance for student representatives. This week, I spoke with those elected to paid positions of on-campus power, to compare their roles, responsibilities,and remuneration.
SRC PRESIDENT – Chloe Smith
Pay: Approximately $39,000 per annum.
The Job: Act as a representative to the undergraduate student body and advocate on their behalf for a variety of issues, like academic standards, safety and equality on campus, and the University Restructure. The President also chairs monthly SRC meetings, executive meetings, and manages the day-to-day operations of the SRC as an organisation.
Average hours per week: 20-25 in the SRC office. However, Chloe explains, the nature of the role requires the President to perform tasks outside of regular office hours, like approving Honi Soit pieces, writing reports or attending events on the SRC’s behalf.
Fringe Benefits: On-campus office (ft. couch).
SRC GENERAL SECRETARY – Split between Lachlan Ward and Georgia Mantle
Pay: Approximately $18,000 per annum, which is calculated on a rate of ½ minimum wage. However, because the position is split this year, Lachlan and Georgia each receive 1/3 minimum wage, which totals $12,500 per annum. “It’s weird,” according to Lachlan. “Split positions and thus factional deals actually waste the SRC money”.
The Job: The role of the General Secretary is to ensure the smooth functioning of the SRC. This includes organising the SRC’s O-Week presence, negotiating SSAF funding, preparing the SRC’s budget, and assisting office bearers.
Average hours per week: 8-9. However, Lachlan said hours fluctuate depending on the time of year and what tasks are demanding attention: “In January I was around for about 6 hours a day, Monday-Friday, because of the O-Week handbook… but in some weeks, I would be in the office less.”
Fringe Benefits: “Not that I know of,” Lachlan laughed.
SRC PAID OFFICE BEARER POSITIONS – Dylan Griffiths and Liam Carrigan (Education); Anna Hush and Vanessa Song (Wom*n’s)
Pay: The SRC Education Officers and Wom*n’s Officers are paid using the same structure as General Secretary.
SUPRA President – Christian Jones
Pay: $47,742 per annum. This stipend depends on the ARC linkage project stipend for PhD students and is paid at 1.5 times that stipend. For 2016 the President is paid at $26.30 an hour for 35 hours a week.
The Job: Acting as the General Manager of the SUPRA offices, the CEO of the organisation, and the Chairperson and Spokesperson of the SUPRA council. “There’s also a fair bit of admin work to be done,” Christian said.
Hours per week: 24-30.
Fringe Benefits: “Morning tea on a staff or Councillor’s Birthday? As a substantially smaller organisation than others, we cannot provide other luxuries like meal money or tickets to our staff and office bearers.”
Other paid positions on the SUPRA Executive include Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Education Officer, Director of Student Publications, and the Equity Officers (Indigenous, Wom*n’s, Disabilities, Rural and Regional, Queer, and International). They form the organisation’s collective leadership and work to support it in various portfolios.
Each role is paid $26.25 per hour, but can claim different hours of work per week.
SUPRA Treasurer Joshua Preece said while he can claim up to 14 hours per week, his hours vary “depending on how much is going on at SUPRA, and whether I have external commitments that week (like exam preparation)”.
USU BOARD DIRECTORS – Kate Bullen, Liam Carrigan, Tiff Alexander, Marco Avena, Atia Rahim, Michael Rees, Jack Whitney
Pay: $4,416 per annum.
The Job: Oversee the strategic direction and finances of the University of Sydney Union (USU). Involves attending monthly Board meetings, reading and evaluating reports by senior staff, and making decisions about which major projects the USU should embark on. Directors also attend working parties in areas such as Communications, Commercial Operations, Governance and Co-Curricular experience, where they discuss operational matters within the USU.
Hours per week: Minimum six hours per week, as well as attending one monthly Board meeting (3-4 hours), one information Board meeting each fortnight, and one working party meeting for an hour per week. But according to Board Director Michael Rees, “to do the job properly, you really have to do a lot more than the minimum requirements”, saying some directors are in the office for 10+ hours per week, and others practically live there.
Fringe Benefits: $11 allowance per day to spend at USU outlets. According to Michael, Board Directors can apply for a parking permit (because they work on campus), but they still have to pay approximately $300 per year for the spot. Honi understands Directors sometimes also get free tickets to various Revues.
USU BOARD EXECUTIVE – Liv Ronan (VP), Ed MacMahon (Honorary Treasurer), Shannen Potter (Honorary Secretary)
Pay: $13,248 per annum.
The Job: Facilitate the operation of the USU. For example, the Honorary Secretary chairs and attends meetings and committees on specific projects, chairs the C&S Committee, prepares and works on Board Director projects, and reports on activities.
Hours per week: For Honorary Secretary, Shannen Potter said some weeks can demand as many as 20-30 hours, but others less.
Fringe Benefits: Same as Board Directors.
USU PRESIDENT – Alisha Aitken-Radburn
Pay: $26,496 per annum.
The Job: Manage the Board and act as a representative of the USU on the Board’s behalf. According to Alisha, the President is also involved in stakeholder management (i.e. meetings with the University, students, C&S), and works to implement new initiatives and ideas, such as their alumni engagements officer and international students council.
Hours per week: About 32 hours. Alisha says she tries to be in the office for four full days, but there is a “lot of out of hours stuff”.
Fringe Benefits: Same as Board Directors.