Perks of Being an Executive

Every February, members of the Acadia Students’ Union elect their new representatives on the Students’ Representative Council (SRC). There are 23 members of SRC, five designated as Executives. The five Executives- President, Vice President Academic & External (VPAE), Vice President Events & Promotions (VPEP), Vice President Student Life (VPSL), and Vice President Finance & Operations (VPFO)- make up the Executive Board.

As per the Constitution of the ASU, the Executive Board is charged with maintaining the day-to-day operations of the Union. All authority is delegated to Executives during the Christmas break and from the last day of exams until the first day of the academic year, unless Council passes a motion to the contrary or a special meeting is called during the summer.

Executive members are considered full-time employees of the ASU during their term. During the summer, all Executive members are required to hold 37.5 office hours from Monday-Friday between 7AM and 6:00PM, with holidays as paid time off. Executives are entitled to two weeks or ten days of paid vacation during the summer period, provided the Chairperson of Council is informed.

According to Bylaw 1 detailing SRC positions, the President is required to hold a minimum of twenty office hours per week during the academic year and enroll in no more than three courses during the fall or winter semester. This is in addition to their responsibilities sitting on SRC, the University Senate, Board of Governors, Town & Gown Committee, and representing the ASU externally.

Vice Presidents vary in their responsibilities. Each must hold a minimum of fifteen office hours a week through the academic year and propose goal documents to achieve the various demands of their positions. The demands of the Executive board are immense, with unforeseen circumstances challenging the students that serve. In September 2015, ASU President Liam Murphy unexpectedly resigned, elevating Suzanne Grey into the interim Presidency to which she was elected shortly after. Keeping students informed strained both Executive and non-Executive members during collective bargaining in November 2017.

Executive members are entitled to various benefits upon commencement of their term. During the summer term the President is paid $2291 per month and VPs are paid $2239 per month. During the academic year, the President earns $1010.63 per month while VPs earn $564 per month . Each Executive has a computer in their office and a limited budget for office supplies.

In terms of benefits from the university, compensation for Executives is generous. Each Executive position receives a ¾ tuition waiver from Acadia. This waiver covers only on-campus courses taken during the academic year or summer semester. There is also an unspecified residence benefit for the Executives that live in residence, provided by the university.

In addition to a compensation package, all Executives are entitled to free entrance to all ASU sponsored events from the Union. Executive members are also admitted into the Axe Bar & Grill without having to wait in line by showing their Executive pass card. For concerts, Executive members are either issued a ticket or their name is placed on the guest list.

The ASU also provides a cell phone allowance for Executive members. The allowance is $600 per year for the President and $350 for VPs. Each Executive is also entitled to an ASU mailbox free of charge for the remainder of their time at Acadia should they desire one. Cajun’s currently sells mailboxes for $45 each.

Per diem meal expenses are also issued to Executives who are travelling to conferences. These conferences have included Canadian Alliance of Student Association meetings in Alberta, Students Nova Scotia meetings in Halifax, and advocacy efforts in Ottawa, where the ASU advocates on behalf of students. The allowance is $7 for breakfast, $13 for lunch, and $20 for dinner, which can be claimed before or after the trip. Mileage expenses of $0.32 per kilometre can be claimed. These expenses are accounted for in the annual budget.

On March 12th VPFO Liam Schreiter brought the 2018-19 Budget to SRC, where compensation was discussed. The next budget included a pay increase of $200 per year ($100 per semester) for non-executive members of SRC. This was meant to address the lack of change over the past 12 years in salaries. Executive members will not see the same immediate increase, despite the lack of competitive salaries and broad scope of work.

A plebiscite will be held in the near future on the subject of pay equity for all full-time staff, including employees at The Axe, Cajun’s, and Union Market. This is meant to address pay equity issues endemic within the Union.

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The prez and execs work hard. It’s actually nice to see them being compensated when a lot of work done by students on campus is volunteer, done for “resume building experience”.

I think what should have attention drawn to it is how little many of the other ASU student employees make for their hard work. I.O. staff, CRO, Equity Officer, and others are paid with an honorarium instead of a fair salary for the hundreds of hours of work they put in each school year. This can come out to as little as 25cents an hour for their work. And while the Prez and execs can raise and vote for their own pay raises to keep their salary current and fair, most of the other ASU student employees cannot, and as a result have been paid the same since 2002 while the demands of job only increase year to year.

IO Coordinators, Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, CRO, and non-executive members of council are receiving a $200/year pay increase next academic year, while executives and full-time staff of the ASU are not. Please refer to the SRC minutes from March 27, 2018 and/or the 2018/2019 ASU Budget for this information.

It is also important to note that at most other Atlantic Canadian university students union council members and IO coordinators fulfill volunteer positions, it is nice to see the ASU actually compensates our non-executive council members and IO Coordinators for their work. Also, most other students unions pay their executive much more – would have loved to see a comparative evaluation of our executives’ salaries to other students’ unions in this article; however, this was omitted.