Letter to the Editor: Clearing the Air Around the Wire and ASWC

Two weeks ago, the Wire published an open letter to ASWC asking for a $20,000 increase to the stipend amounts of the editorial board. At the time, the current Executive Council of ASWC was working to get the Wire additional funds, but no attempt at negotiation with the Executive Council was made before the Wire published their open letter. After the demand, Editor-in-Chief Allison Cohen and Publisher Renny Acheson met with the Executive Council of ASWC later to again demand the $20,000, where they asked questions about the budgeting process and their options moving forward. They are working with the ASWC Oversight Committee to propose a bylaw amendment to Article 5, Section C of the bylaws in order to make it possible for ASWC to fulfill this demand.

But how did things go so wrong? This conflict started three years ago, when the ASWC Finance Committee at the time decided to lower the editor stipends to levels more comparable to all other student leaders. That year, and the following year, when a similar stipend amount was proposed, and the Wire protested, the Executive Council capitulated and agreed to increase the stipends, in violation of the ASWC bylaws. The Wire leadership this year responded to the same change by threatening to quit. The editorial board is paid using stipends, and stipends should never be equated to hourly pay. ASWC simply cannot afford to pay all 125 of its student workers hourly wages while funding clubs and organizations at sufficient levels, which is why ASWC chooses to pay stipends.

In an effort to make the stipends relatively equitable across the different media positions, Wire editor stipends, which exist outside of the Wire’s operating budget, were brought down to levels above, but more comparable to, other media organizations and student organizations. For context, 14 out of 15 of last semester’s Wire editors were paid more than any other media head position; the Editor in Chief and Publisher were paid more than double all other student leader stipends, including the ASWC President, WEB chair, and Power & Privilege Executive Director.

The issues we are facing right now are the same issues that have been going on between the Wire and ASWC for years. The Wire isn’t paid what an hourly wage would pay them, and ASWC can’t afford to pay them that much money. ASWC also has treated the Wire stipends differently than any other position it funds. In an effort to standardize pay in ASWC, while paying every position that ASWC hires for, last year’s Executive Council cut the Wire editorial stipends.

The 2020-21 Executive Council did not adequately communicate with the Wire’s leadership, and the budgeting process overall was rushed and poorly implemented. More transparency is clearly needed in the budgeting and stipend assignment process. This year’s Executive Council has plans already in place to increase the transparency of the budgeting process for this, and future years.

The Wire reached out to the current and past ASWC Presidents and Finance Chairs. This year’s Executive Council began work on finding funds to increase the Wire editorial stipends. The Wire, feeling frustrated with the response they got from last year’s president, issued an ultimatum to ASWC. Now after meeting with this year’s Executive Council the Wire heads are working on writing a bylaw amendment. ASWC has a proposal that provides some of the Wire demands but preserves the integrity of the budget. The Wire stated they won’t consider anything but full funding, so those proposals have not yet been shared.

This negotiation has historically occurred within the Executive Council, but in the spirit of transparency and accountability, this decision will go to two public votes in the ASWC Senate. The first vote is to change the ASWC bylaws to allow a budget change, and the second vote overrules the Finance Committee and adds $20,000 to the Wire’s editorial board stipend amount. If either vote fails, $7,000 will be added to the Wire editorial board stipends instead. Since there is some fluidity among ASWC stipend positions from year to year, that total represents positions that were budgeted for last year, and not filled this year.

This Sunday, October 31st, ASWC Senate will vote on whether or not to change the bylaws, and then whether or not to grant the full $20,000 to the Wire, overdrawing the current ASWC Honorarium.


Llewyn Merrill ‘23, Student Outreach Chair

Madeleine Sherry ‘24, Communications Chair

Nat Lange ‘24, Sustainability Chair 

Jordan J. Bluett ‘23, Nominations and Appointments Chair

Gabrielle Rose ‘23, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair

Ken Fritzell ‘23, Finance Chair

Sam Gray ‘23 Oversight Chair

Salma Anguiano ‘22 President