College Increases ExCo Stipend, Committee Offers Full Courseload for Spring

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The Experimental College Committee’s compensation was increased by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences last month, from $6,000 to $7,000 for the 2019–2020 academic year. In October, the five-student committee announced that they would need to reduce the number of ExCo courses to 50, due to changes in the way committee members are paid. The increased finances will mean that ExCo will be able to maintain its typical offering of approximately 70 courses in the spring.

Members of the ExCo Committee met with their advisor, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Hamilton, over the past month to discuss this.

“The ExCo Committee met with Dean Hamilton and basically remade our case,” said College second-year Serena Zets, who sits on the committee. “We met in the middle, and she basically explained how passionate she is about ExCo and about how she wants it to succeed and thrive, but in an era of contraction at the College, it’s difficult to get any increase in any area. We had gotten an increase of $1,000 from last academic year to this academic year, which was still much less than we had asked for. But, when every other thing was being cut, and we got an increase, it was hard for her to lobby on our behalf.”

On Nov. 22, Hamilton informed the ExCo Committee of the funding increase via email.

“I enjoy sustained conversation with ExCo’s student leaders about their work and their compensation,” Hamilton wrote in an email to the Review. “As reported in the Review last month, the Dean’s office review of committee members’ wages led to the first decision to increase their total compensation for 2019–20. Our mid-semester review of documented work and careful attention to ExCo’s goals led to the decision to increase the overall amount of funding for the academic year.”

Before the College increased ExCo Committee’s funding, committee members and Student Senators brainstormed alternate pathways for ExCo to acquire necessary funds. Student Senators and College third-years Caleb Knapp and Bridget Smith also met with Hamilton and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo to aid the process.

“Alums started reaching out to us,” Zets said. “There [were] talks of separating ExCo from the institution, having it be completely privately funded. There [were] talks of it becoming endowed, becoming a 501(c)(3). People were throwing out really radical ideas.”

Before the ExCo Committee was aware of the funding increase, they took care not to work past the hours allotted by their $6,000 stipend.

“We’ve all been a little more restrictive on waiting until our office hours to send emails back, or waiting until the committee meeting to do this,” said ExCo Committee Co-Chair and College third-year Emily Spezia-Shwiff. “In that sense, we’re not as communicative as we’ve been in past semesters. We’re not as fast to respond, and we’ve cut back on doing things like conferences.”

The ExCo Committee has their next monthly meeting with Hamilton scheduled for Dec. 10, where they hope to receive clarification about the longevity of the increased funding.