Senate Response to Diop’s Resignation

Student Senate

We are writing to provide an update on the issues of compensation on Student Senate. Following recent events, College junior Eli Diop has resigned from Student Senate. In the past week, we have completed our audit of all senators’ timecards and have passed a measure to deduct any wrongly paid hours from future timecards, have passed five bylaw changes pertaining to the amount and oversight of senator pay and have published e-mails, minutes and documents pertaining to the issues of senator compensation on the Senate website (

We want to take the opportunity to respond to the letter “Clarifying the Recent Compensation Issue on Student Senate” from former senator Eli Diop in the May 3 issue of the Review. In her letter, Eli spoke on behalf of Student Senate without authorization from the full Senate (a severe violation of our bylaws), characterizing this as primarily a systemic problem that was caught late by our treasurer and operations manager. Although we continue to admit partial responsibility for the situation due to the previous lack of accountability in our timecard oversight system and have instituted serious reforms in order to fix these issues, it was not the treasurer’s responsibility to educate each senator on the bylaws. While the treasurer is tasked with monitoring timecards, it has been the responsibility of individual senators to know the bylaws and to fill out timecards according to the Honor Code. Nevertheless, our treasurer, College senior Steve Bii, sent out an e-mail to the full Senate with the timecard bylaws on March 22.

Additionally, our audit has demonstrated that, while most senators had billed a handful of illegitimate hours during the semester, this misunderstanding of the bylaws was primarily an individual problem. The audit was conducted by our operations manager, College sophomore Peter Arden, and our treasurer, Steve Bii, who submitted a list of questionable hours to the group by Thursday at 11:59 p.m. Senators then had until Sunday at 7 p.m. to contest, after which Steve made a final determination of the legitimacy of those hours. Eli was found to have billed for 126.5 hours of work that was determined to fall outside the bounds of our bylaws. College senior Tani Colbert-Sangree had 7 illegitimate hours, College senior Hannah Elhard, 6; College first-year Machmud Makhmudov, 4.5; College junior Lauren Vandemortel, 4; Peter Arden, 3.75; double-degree sophomore Ben Murray, 3.5; Steve Bii, 3.5; College senior Charlotte Landes, 3; College senior James Foust, 3; and College sophomore Nick Olson, 1.5. College seniors Joe Condon, Timothy Patch and Brandt Rentel and College sophomore Sara Vaadia had none. Additionally, Senators Colbert-Sangree, Foust and Patch have chosen to forgo pay for the remainder of the year following this revelation. In total, all other senators billed 39.75 hours illegitimately, which has already been docked from senators’ pay for the pay period ending May 5. Full details of the audit are available on the Student Senate website.

Although Eli was not paid in full for her last two timecards, there remain 89.25 hours of pay that Eli has received that have not been returned or docked. This totals $700.61 before taxes. Student Senate calls on Eli to return this money to the Student Activity Fund.

Moving forward, Senate has enacted multiple changes to its bylaws regarding the compensation and monitoring of the compensation of senators. While the changes can be viewed in their entirety on our website, we wanted to highlight two important changes to our policies. One is that Senate pay is now capped at 20 hours a week, with exemptions that can be explicitly granted by a majority vote of the Senate. We believe that this will prevent any overbilling of the magnitude that occurred this semester from happening again. The second is that our work logs and timecards will now be posted on the Senate website to be clear and accessible to all students. These are available now to view.

Senators are paid out of student money for a specific and important purpose: to ensure that any student, regardless of financial situation, can serve as a representative of the student body. Many senators, past and present, would not have been able to do the work they do without the compensation provided to them. However, we are not paid for everything that we do while on Senate. In Eli’s instance, there is no doubt that Eli was engaged with the Working Groups for Institutional Change, Colors of Rhythm, Asia America Art Collective and other organizations. Her support for underrepresented communities through this difficult semester was admirable work. That does not, however, mean that she should have received compensation for that work. This incident has represented a serious breach of trust between Student Senate and the broader student body, and we hope that through the reforms that we have enacted and the information that we have released, we can begin to regain that trust

–Student Senate