The Student Services Finance Committee met with representatives from both the Center for the First Year Experience and the Greater University Tutoring Service to request an additional $102,930 in funding for the fiscal year of 2021.
GUTS is a student organization that provides free tutors to students for assistance with academic courses, study skills, conversational English and intercultural exchange. The organization has recently been considered an essential service to University of Wisconsin students, according to Co-Director Nancy Herrera.
Herrera said due to a great influx of student interest, need and programming, GUTS has reconsidered their funding needs, increasing it to $306,850 — nearly double the funding the organization received for the 2017 to 2018 academic year. The large increase is mostly due to increases in the salary of the Co-Director positions as well as the additions of a tutor staff pilot initiative.
In previous years, salaried Co-Director positions offered employee benefits such as tuition remission and insurance, Herrera said. The Co-Director positions recently transitioned to hourly based bi-weekly paychecks, which currently have no benefits and have greatly decreased the pool of qualified and interested applicants. Additionally, GUTS representatives believe offering salaried positions with benefits will incentivize students and increase role expectations.
“I have been here for three years, but we can’t always expect that of other people. What has happened for our graduate students that work with us is they end up leaving after one semester or another. We are very worried that that may be a consequence,” Herrera said.
The tutor staff pilot initiative plans to implement paid positions within the program, which is currently volunteer based. This initiative aims to increase tutor retention, quality of services, support student tutors through both pay and volunteer options and serve more students on campus.
The initiative also aims to create a more professional atmosphere within the organization to decrease volunteer no-shows, dropouts and inconsistencies, Herrera said.
“We try our best to convey professional development and professionalism to our tutors, but we do realize it is a constraint when it is perceived by some tutors as volunteer based,” Hererra said.
SSFC representatives had questions regarding the plan to pay some volunteers and not others.
Rep. Mike Kowalski was concerned tutors would not be incentivised to display professionalism since they would be paid either way. Concerns regarding details of cost and consistency regarding the direction of the organization came from SSFC Rep. Landon Tselepis.
Chair Jordan Pasbrig said voting for this budget proposal will take place Thursday.