Students Earn Stipends

When each semester comes to a close, some student leaders at Ramapo will receive compensation for their work with campus clubs and organizations that includes cash stipends, priority housing and registration and parking passes. The money is intended to offset losses faced by the students because the demands of their on-campus positions do not allow them to hold down other jobs, a practice that has been in place for years.

According to Emily Davis, revenue manager at the Center for Student Involvement, the organizations with members receiving stipends are the Student Government Association, Ramapo News, Yearbook, WRPR, Inter Fraternal Council, United Cultural Greek Council and National Panhellenic Council. The SGA President and Senate President along with the editors-in-chief of both The Ramapo News and the Yearbook and the WRPR manager receive $750 per semester. The other student leaders who receive stipends get $250 per semester.

Rick Brown, director of CSI, said the student leaders receive the stipends at the discretion of the Board of Trustees.

"[The stipends are] based on decisions by the Ramapo Board of Trustees and President's Cabinet several years ago and amended in 2002 and 2011, with the input of Student Affairs and CSI," Brown said.

In 2002, the Administrative Council released a memo regarding the monetary stipends:

"Although most student leader positions require a certain number of hours of work per week, a few require enough that students in these roles are mostly precluded from having outside employment," it read. "To ensure the widest possible talent pool for our leadership positions, having a stipend plan in place increases the likelihood that more students will be able to make the commitment needed to perform at a high level."

The parties involved in handling the monetary stipends are responsible only for this and not for the priority housing or parking other students may receive, Brown said.

SGA President Kevin Cottino, a junior, receives a monetary stipend, priority housing and a parking pass to allow him to park without getting tickets when he needs to travel on campus.

"I get a parking pass because I am always running around on campus. This way I am able to go to different places without getting a ticket. I am not allowed to park in any reserved spots though," said Cottino.

The parking pass is a privilege that is worked out between the SGA President and Public Safety. Cottino said that it has helped a little bit, because last year he was issued a lot of parking tickets. He added that the parking pass is a relatively new perk, dating back a little over a year.

Cottino, who only has time to work outside of SGA one day per week for five hours, said that the stipend is meant to compensate for the fact that he cannot work, although he is not always comfortable accepting money for a volunteer position.

"I don't believe in getting paid for a volunteer position," he explained. "I actually cut it down from four to two paid positions. It should be the people who are doing the most work, you shouldn't just get paid because of a title."

Cottino added that the stipend isn't discussed or advertised much by the College because they do not want students only running for these positions for the money.

Student leaders like Cottino who receive similar perks are held to higher standards in order to maintain their privileges. Cottino said that he always has to watch what he is doing and be sure not to abuse any of his perks because that would reflect poorly on him and his organization. He is also expected to run the organization and not take a back seat to his work because if he does not fulfill his responsibilities, these amenities will be taken away, and he will not get paid.

SGA executive board members can also avail themselves of priority housing, but Cottino said that this privilege is not used much, and he has never used it himself. Cottino and the Senate President, Joseph Minniti, are the only two on SGA to receive a monetary stipend, and nobody else receives the parking pass besides the President.

"It is up to the President to decide what perks we get," Cottino said. "I try to keep everything to a minimum because it's not supposed to be about the benefits. It's supposed to be about wanting to be there."

Minniti, who also receives a stipend for holding his SGA position, said that he wasn't aware that he received this prior to running, and he isn't even sure how much it is or when he receives it.

He added that students should know about the stipends for different positions and that greater transparency will help get the word out.

"I didn't even know before that I get a stipend so that isn't why I ran. You need to put some heart in it," said Minniti.

Minniti, however, said the stipend is a big help because it gives him extra time to focus on the organization, and he doesn't have to worry so much about having a part time job.

In addition to being Senate President of SGA, Minniti is also a Ramapo Admissions Student Ambassador. For holding this position, Minniti has received priority registration since Spring 2011.

Fellow RASA Jeff Bendett, an Environmental Studies major, has received priority registration since Fall 2012.

"It has been a huge help," Bendett said. "Since I am only a sophomore, there are a lot of students that would normally register before me, but now I do not have to worry about not getting into the classes I want."

In order to continue to receive priority registration, Bendett said he must fulfill his obligations with RASA.

Peer facilitators also receive priority registration. Sophomore Mike Samlall receives priority registration as well as monetary compensation for working with students in the honors program.

"As a peer you get priority registration as compensation and also to accommodate for our fifth class," Samlall explained.

Students at the College have mixed feelings about their peers receiving monetary stipends for holding leadership positions. Some students, like senior Rachel Day and junior Tracy Harrsch, were not aware that students were receiving stipends and do not think it is a good idea.

"A club president should do it because they want to make a difference in the club and at the school, not for monetary gain," said Day.

Harrsch said that she thought some of these perks were odd and she was not aware of this.

"I'm a little taken back," she said.

Other students, like junior Jimmy Mitchell said this reward is well deserved.

"If he or she puts in the extra time to help out the students, they deserve the rewards that come with it," said Mitchell.