ELECTION season is approaching, and aspiring student body presidents are drafting platforms, posting fliers and plotting ways to capture votes. For last February's election, with the $1,000 cap on campaign spending lifted at the University of South Carolina, Kenny Tracy unleashed "Kenny for Carolina" T-shirts, sunglasses, koozies and "mood cups" that turn his campaign color, blue, when liquid is added. Mr. Tracy won after spending about $2,200.
That kind of investment may pay off. A survey by the American Student Government Association found that 71 percent of student leaders are compensated. But pay, perks and budgets vary wildly, as does the position's power and visibility.
Below, student body presidents share some of what they get for their labors (they work 30 to 40 hours a week) and give back.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, COLUMBIA
Student president: Kenny Tracy, who represents 30,000 students, with a budget of $413,000.
Perks: $5,320 stipend; parking pass; six football tickets.
Issues: Student safety in Columbia's Five Points district; getting off-campus vendors to accept "Carolina cash"; bringing Student Legal Services to campus.
UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO (SUNY)
Student president: Travis Nemmer, who represents 18,000 students (he won by 47 votes), with a budget of $4.2 million.
Perks: $12,000 stipend.
Issues: Better safeguards after two student officers almost lost $300,000 last year on a plan to develop a mobile app.
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY (Tenn.)
Student president: Maryclaire Manard, who represents 6,800 students, with a budget of $3.7 million.
Issues: Bringing food trucks to campus; making course evaluations available before students select classes; LGBTQ concerns about the sale at the "Munchie Mart" of Chick-Fil-A (corporate stance: against same-sex marriage).
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Student president: TJ Villamil, who represents 50,000 students, with a budget of $18 million.
Perks: $9,000 stipend; parking pass in designated lots (as a voting member of board of trustees); $3,000 worth of meals; $50 a month reimbursement for cellphone; car in homecoming parade; access to president's box for football games; meeting Michelle Obama on her campaign visit to campus.
Issues: $75 million renovation of student union; campaign to halt tuition increases; connecting students with student government via social media; responding to political opponents' requests for public records under Freedom of Information Act -- some 20 a month at his term's beginning. One of their complaints: too many presidential perks.education
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.