Martinez ’17 Discusses Giving Stipends to Student Group Leaders on Financial Aid

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Combating classism has been a major topic on campus for quite some time now, and the WSA is looking to do something about it.

Below is a “press release”/statement from Aidan Martinez ’17, Vice President of the WSA, talking about a new resolution that hopes to provide stipends to students on financial aid who participate heavily in a particular student group. If you want to discuss the program with the Assembly, they’ll be meeting this Sunday, January 31st, at 6:30pm to 41 Wyllys Room 114.

And as always, if you have affirming/dissenting/random thoughts and opinions on this issue and wish to have them put on Wesleying, feel free to email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.

Aidan’s statement is after the jump.

With new student-run activities on the rise that enrich our community, we need to be sure that every member of our community has the ability to pursue their passion, regardless of socioeconomic status. Organizations like the DIY Builders’ Space and Red Feather Studios are growing rapidly, and thus demand more attention from the students that run them. Even organizations that have been part of Wesleyan for decades have felt pressure. Unfortunately, no safety net exists to ensure that these students are able to balance school, cocurriculars, and work. Work is particularly important.

The WSA for a long time has struggled with socioeconomic diversity, but now it seems that we have begun to turn this trend around. As of January 29th, 18out of 35 senators receive a work-study stipend, which covers one-fourth of their work-study allotment. That’s one-fourth of a semester’s work potentially freed up, perhaps even one-fourth of a job position that’s now open. I want to commit the WSA to fill the gaps that administration has been struggling to close. Students know what students want, and we cannot wait any longer for someone else to solve the problems we face.

The Stipend Program that the WSA has embarked on will now expand to 5 more student groups as a pilot. $5000 from our own Project Fund will be set aside for those 5 groups. In order to be considered for the pilot, student groups must submit the following: detailed jobs of the students who will receive the stipend, how the student group builds community at Wesleyan, a rewritten mission statement with a commitment to inclusion and diversity, and a plan to include more of Wesleyan into the student group. After reviewing the materials, finalists will meet with SBC, SLC, and CoCo chairs along with 4 senators for an interview. Finally, the student groups who move on will be approved by the WSA President and Vice-President.

I want to be clear: no student group’s budget will be adversely affected by the implementation of the program. The funds will come from the WSA’s Project Fund, which is distinctly different from any SBC allocations. Every student group has something to gain and nothing to lose. Furthermore, this program will be evaluated at the end of the Fall 2016 semester to determine whether or not the pilot should continue. In the Spring of 2017, the final school-wide program will be proposed, and depending on student group interest, there may be a full phase in of the program.

I invite feedback to make this resolution a game-changer in our community for those financial aid students who came here to be students, not workers. Each and every student leader has left their mark on our campus, and it is essential that we ensure that even those who do not have the most financially have a fighting chance to make their mark.

Discussion on this resolution will happen in the WSA Senate Meeting on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 at 6:30PM in 41 Wyllys, Room 114. We invite any community members to come and voice their opinions on this matter.