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Where’s your stipend?

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, October 10, 2008

Earlier this week, this esteemed newspaper reported that a group of Saint Mary’s students met with College officials regarding a stipend that the Student Government has placed in the budget to give it’s Executive Board. The leaders of the Saint Mary’s student body apparently feel that it is ethical and appropriate to grant themselves $20,000 as a slush fund to do what they want with. This Executive Board apparently includes eight young women, who ran unopposed for their positions last spring. Doing the quick math, I believe this means that each member of the board will spend approximately $2,500 of the tuition payers money on themselves.

What might they be spending this money on you ask? According to the same article, “Last year’s Executive Board allotted themselves $40,000 monetary stipend, and Executives serving SGA prior to that would often take a trip to Chicago where they would ‘stay at five star hotels, eat at nice restaurants, see shows and go shopping.'” If the Notre Dame student government practiced in this kind of outrageous behavior, I would be livid.

I’m sure that being the student body president is a thankless job that undoubtedly involves hours upon hours of meetings and discussions, but do they seriously deserve a stipend? Most people who run for these positions only do it as a shameless form of resume building. I can not think of a single tangible development that has come from Notre Dame’s student government in my 3.2 years at this school, and I have to think that the Saint Mary’s student leaders have a similar impact.

With this in mind, I have some suggestions for how the Saint Mary’s Executive Board can utilize their excess funds this year. While all are not conventional uses of students’ tuition dollars, none are less ethical than the direction the money is currently going.

1) Donate the money to Bob Barr’s Presidential Campaign: Sure he has no chance at winning and most students probably have no clue who he is, but he did grace this area with his presence last week, and he is opposed to big government (which the Board Stipend most certainly qualifies as).

2) Construct a Ball Pit: Judging by the dimensions of St. Mary’s rooms, and some very helpful internet blogs, I think you could turn quite a few doubles into full fledged ball pit rooms with a depth of three feet. Think of the possibilities with a room full of balls. Parietals are starting? No worries, I’ll just hide in the ball pit. If I knew that there were ball pit rooms over at Saint Mary’s, I think I might make it into a dorm room there for the first time since… Well ever. The college might even attract a wider variety of students if they advertised it: Saint Mary’s College, live in a ball pit.

3) Install Bidets: If you could buy one bidet for $500 [which you can], then with $20,000 you could buy 40 bidets. I can only assume that would put at least one bidet in every bathroom of every floor in every dorm at Saint Mary’s. A bidet is something that I have always felt would be a great addition to the dorms at Notre Dame, and I believe the women of Saint Mary’s deserve to move up to the No.1 ranking for cleanest co-ed undersides in US News and World Report.

4) Buy Each Student Sweatpants: The day has come when every girl in the Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s community knows that they must oblige to custom and wear sweatpants to class. Because this is probably going to happen every day until April (when Skirt Day comes along), I’m sure every woman would love to add an extra pair of these most gloriously comfortable leg coverings to add to their wardrobe. [note: hoodies not included]

5) Drink lots of Keystone Light: Assuming Meijer has enough in stock, you could spend the Board Stipend to buy 46,000 cans of Keystone Light. This might be a little difficult with the ‘two case rule’ at Meijer, so instead, I suggest buying 285 kegs of the chosen beer. Even if you don’t want to drink it all, you could still build a pretty awesome fort with it.

I’ve only begun to venture into the frontier of possibilities for how Saint Mary’s Student Government can more effectively use these funds, but I think it should be pretty obvious at this point that just about anything would be better than the current allocation. I can only hope that our friends at Saint Mary’s understand this and criticize their leaders right out of office.

Go Belles.

Bob Kessler is a senior majoring in political science and economics. You can contact him at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.