Associated Student Inc. President Jose Salazar’s push for scholarship-based compensation made headway in an ad hoc Board of Control meeting Monday.
“We’re satisfied that we’re moving forward on the issue of compensation,” senator Carlos Vegara said at the meeting’s conclusion. “The past two meetings we’ve been pretty stuck now were confident to move forward on classifying executive pay as a scholarship.”
The ad hoc committee was specially convened to address the issue of executive compensation after it was revealed that Salazar, the university’s first undocumented student president, was not being paid due to failing to submit DACA paperwork before the deadline. The meeting on Monday was the third meeting held to address executive pay. Any changes are pending senate approval and will take not effect until the next academic school year.
New to the table was financial aid specialist Nick Valdivia who provided clarification about classification, encouraging the committee to seek the guidance of a tax specialist to minimize risk.
“Classification is paramount simply because if you misclassify an award, the IRS can collect back taxes against the grantor and recipient and they can levy fines against the institution,” Valdivia said.
Valdivia also provided clarification on financial aid questions, specifically the impact on taxation and aid amount.
Since scholarships have no automated tax withholdings a reclassification to scholarship will likely result in students either making quarterly tax withholding payments, or a lump sum tax payment when filing, Valdivia said.
A reclassification to scholarship will also impact financial aid, Valdivia said. A student who receives the scholarship would not be eligible to receive any other forms of Federal, State or Institutional financial aid. Students would be ineligible since ASI policy stipulates that the scholarship meets the estimated living expenses for a student and the president’s office covers mandatory tuition and fees.
ASI presidents receive $29,442 for the academic year to cover the $23,712 estimated attendance and compensation for holding the position.
The question of accountability continued to linger, though Executive Director Richard Haller attempted to squash concerns, pointing to the fact that ASI has never had to withhold payment for an officer not doing their job.
“The recourse of someone not doing their job is political pressure,” Haller said. “That really is the bottom line, how they work with constituents and how constituents hold them accountable.”
Before Senator Dale Lendrum moved to switch executive pay to a scholarship model, undocumented student representative and anthropology major Erika Suarez stressed the importance of the matter at hand.
“We have more to gain than lose,” Suarez said. “CSULB can be an example to the other 23 campuses that more students can be included.”
BOC approved to move the proposal forward to make modifications to the policy. The ASI Senate will vote on the proposal during Wednesday’s senate meeting at 3:30 p.m. in the University Student Union 234.