Give David Mittleman $300 and he heads for the Cerritos College library instead of the pizza parlor.
While that is not the normal state of affairs for a hefty collegiate swimmer, it is just the thing for Mittleman, who as president of the campus's Associated Students organization is student representative to the community college Board of Trustees.
Until last month, he--as well as every other student member before him--received no compensation. Now, he and his successors will receive $300 a month, the same as elected trustees.
Mittleman, 23, says he will probably cut back on his part-time work hours at a Downey pizza restaurant to "devote more time to studying and swimming." He is on the Cerritos College swim team.
Mittleman, a graduate of Warren High School in Downey, said he has a 3.2 grade-point average but hopes to raise it with more time to study. The community college sophomore wants to become a dentist, and plans to transfer to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, this summer.
College board President Dale Hardeman said he thinks Mittleman deserves compensation for serving on the board. "I think he works very hard. There are many schools that compensate the student trustee. I saw no reason why we should not," Hardeman said.
A Cerritos College survey found that, out of 70 community college districts in the state, 27 colleges provide some form of compensation for their student trustees, said Cerritos College President Wilford Michael. In the southeast Los Angeles County area, only Compton College was found to be paying its student member monthly compensation. The Compton student representative receives $20 a meeting. Elected Compton board members receive $240 a month.
The Cerritos board's 6-1 decision to pay the student representative came after trustees increased their own pay in December from $30 a meeting to $300 a month. (The board normally meets twice a month.) With compensation tied to enrollment, state law allows the trustees at the 17,000-student college to be paid up to $400 a month.
The student trustee serves for one year and can take part in all discussions, but cannot vote.
Before the Cerritos board voted on paying the student member, Michael had expressed concerns. Michael said he hoped that a student would run for student body president to "gain leadership experience and serve the students," and not just for the financial gain that comes with serving on the Board of Trustees.
"I was concerned but not opposed," Michael said in an interview.
Mittleman said he does not think the money will bring out throngs of candidates.
"You really have to like student government. It's a lot of work, long board meetings, and there can be controversial issues," Mittleman said.
One of those issues in recent months was whether lottery tickets could be sold in the student bookstore. Mittleman said he argued in favor of lottery sales.
The board split on whether to allow the sales, but the administration preempted the board and banned the sales.
"That's a dead issue now. The students wanted it, but the administration said no," Mittleman said.
Although his own financial situation has improved with the trustees' compensation vote, Mittleman said he is concerned about Associated Students' fiscal health. The organization has an estimated annual budget of $500,000, Mittleman said, raised primarily through sales at the bookstore and an $8 student activity fee.
During past class registration periods, students who wanted to waive the fee had to "get out of the registration line" and go to the activities office to sign a waiver, Mittleman said.
"What it meant was when students came into the activities office and were told that the fee provided funds for the sports teams and other student programs, many ended up paying the fee," Mittleman said.
After a successful fight by some of the faculty to have the waivers issued in the same building, Mittleman said, the number of students waiving the fee has soared. Since December, 2,600 students have received waivers for the spring semester, contrasted with only 700 during the same period in 1985, Mittleman said.
"This means our budget is $20,000 smaller. We'll have to make some cuts," the student trustee said.