The SFSS approves pay raise to align with living wage model

Stipends hadn’t been changed since 2008

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Written by: Kelly Chia, Staff Writer 

As of May 2021, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) Board of Directors and Council merged to form one governing body. They also approved a pay raise for the SFSS members. The Peak spoke to vice president internal and organizational development Corbett Gildersleve on the changes.

He explained that by merging Council and Board together, Council can be more directly involved in the decision-making process. With the new model, alongside traditional responsibilities, some Board members have additional executive responsibilities, like approving the annual budget and long-term contracts and administrative work.

With the new model comes an increase in pay. Last semester, Gildersleve looked at how much money SFSS councillors receive for their work. He discovered their pay hadn’t been changed since 2008. Biweekly stipends amounted to roughly $14.50 per hour which put councillors below the minimum wage for 2021.

The SFSS “has historically been a living wage employer with exceptions for some student staff,” Gildersleve explained. He constructed stipends based on the living wage model and found that they should go up to $17.96 an hour, and then $19.50 in 2022/23. The motion for the raise was approved in April 2021.

Gildersleve said the motion to merge the two bodies started with a review of their administrative and governance structures. 

The previous model was intended to separate the Board of Directors from tasks that could be done by the other SFSS administrative staff while the Board focused on governance work, like reviewing plans and the work of the executive director. 

However, by focusing on governance work, Gildersleve observed that each year, Board members learned less. While “people tend to be on Board because they have passion for the work and want to be able to use their skills to benefit the Society,” the previous model presented limitations to those skills.

The Board wanted to restructure their model so that Board members would still do governance work, but also be more directly involved with student life. “A lot of Board members wanted to be directly involved in planning events, or helping change some rules to help clubs to get grants.”

As the Board began to work on a new model, they worked with Council to ensure they were involved in the consultation process. 

Gildersleve said that up until that point, Council was an advisory body, indicating that they had less say in the decision-making process. While Council had an advisory role — the Board was not required to follow their advice. This resulted in clashes between the two governing bodies. 

“What came out of the discussions with Council was the idea of merging the two together so that Council would have much more of a direct oversight role,” said Gildersleve.   

The Peak reached out to Council for more information, but they did not respond by the publication deadline.