SBCC Student Trustee’s salary and responsibilities questioned by board

Lauren Woods

After defending her salary during a Board of Trustees study session Feb. 10, Student Trustee Nicole Ridgell did not attend the meeting Feb. 24 when her income was to be finalized.

She was also absent from the Associated Student Senate meeting the following day, Feb. 25.

Numerous attempts to schedule an interview with Ridgell were unsuccessful, as she cited her busy schedule causing her to be unavailable. But, according to public record of the Feb. 10 study session, a debate occurred over her compensation.

Among the issues discussed were trustee perceptions of her workload and how her position as Student Trustee compared to the responsibilities of the other members of the board.

“Well the question is, having to do with the perception, is it equal?” said President Trustee Dr. Peter Haslund, during the study session of Feb. 10. “What we’re saying is, it’s…in terms of the overall public responsibility that we have and that you don’t.”

Ridgell expressed that she felt her response to her proposed salaries was “quickly disregarded” and that she should be equal with the board in terms of compensation and voice.

“Well for me, I don’t see it as an equal position at all,” said Trustee Lisa Macker. “I think the legal judiciary responsibility we have as publicly elected officials is a completely different circumstance than you’re in.”

“I think the amount of money is more of a statement of your commitment and we can’t think of it as an hourly thing,” Macker added.

“It’s just something that I’ve always, I guess, believed that our responsibility to the students in a learning institution was,” Ridgell said during the Feb. 10 session.

“As equal responsibility, if not more… And then, have that be reflected concurrently via the student member of the board.”

With these conflicting views on whether equality in voice should trickle down to equality in Ridgell’s compensation, the board chose to put the issue on the following meeting’s agenda of Feb. 24.

“I hate seeing value attached to a dollar,” said Trustee Joan Livingston during the Feb. 10 session. “To somehow argue, ‘Well you don’t value me because you’re not paying me.'”

In a follow-up interview, Livingston explained points that must be weighed in a board decision. “How do we allocate funding and resources? Do you do it for a reward for service? We’re struggling whether we maintain a fountain or increase compensation.”

“We never value a student input on how much they’re getting paid. It doesn’t undermine the value of the voice,” said Livingston.

Although it was unanimous that the student voice is and should be equally heard, some board members felt that Ridgell’s position was unique to theirs and held a different weight.

“What she says is pretty meed-y…I don’t think it is equal weight,” said Trustee Marty Blum in a follow-up to the Feb. 10 session.

“We were talking in general about any Student Trustee. It was too bad it became personal,” Blum said.

When the board gathered Feb. 24, all board members were present, excluding Ridgell.

The meeting moved through the nearly three hour agenda, skimming over her wage. Her name was not mentioned.

The last time Ridgell did appear, Feb. 10, the discussion on her compensation ended with a concern from Trustee Marsha Croninger, with Ridgell’s response on the issue following.

“And just one more comment, I would just encourage Nicole to participate more often in our discussion. I mean, we just had a lengthy discussion on the dual- enrollment issue, and I didn’t hear anything yet from the students’ point of view on that. And so I’m just saying, in the future when we look on these issues,” said Croninger, “do tell us what you think.”