Back in March, I wrote an editorial about the lack of accountability when it comes to AMS executive bonuses. For those of you who don’t remember, the AMS has a pot of up to $25,000 to give out to five executives. In order to get the extra money, executives have to set and meet certain goals. If a committee decides they reached those goals well enough, they can get up to $5,000 each. But the AMS didn’t think it was necessary to let students know how much bonus money executives got or why.
We’ve been asking the AMS for the bonus numbers for months. Back in March, they said we wouldn’t necessarily get a specific breakdown of how much each executive got, but they would send out the total amounts in a budget document. They finally released that document this week, minus one key detail — their bonus numbers.
The AMS has cited a number of reasons over the past few months for keeping their bonuses secret: the execs are students who might not want everyone to know how much money they make; the process is accountable to AMS Council itself, so the average student doesn’t need to know the details; or that policy prevents them from releasing the numbers due to privacy concerns.
But none of those reasons seem to hold water. The executives ran for public office. Their salaries are public, and their bonuses should be too.
The bonus numbers aren’t the only issue we have with the AMS when it comes to accountability. Council has been going into closed session more and more frequently. They kick reporters out of the room, often without telling us why. All this secrecy doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the AMS.
It’s been a growing trend for organizations to be less and less open to the media, and the AMS’s stance on their bonuses is another step in the wrong direction. Organizations are increasingly adding public affairs staff, asking for quote approval or demanding that reporters send interview questions ahead of time. Thankfully, the AMS hasn’t gone that far yet. But it’s a slippery slope. Which is why we’re calling the AMS out on their bonuses — because no one else is.
At the end of the day, we as students fund the AMS. A total of $25,000 is only a small chunk of their budget. But the principle still stands — refusing to let students know how much money we pay executives is a problem.