Archive for June, 2010
The Oregon State Legislature’s Emergency Board Committee voted on Tuesday to allow the seven OUS universities to use $65 million in tuition reserves to offset the state budget cuts to higher education in the wake of a $577 million hole in the state budget as well as a projected 15% reduction in OUS funding in the 2011-2013 budget cycle. From The Oregonian:
This will also serve to soften the blow of the massive budget deficit, taking the OUS cuts out of the equation. What it doesn’t solve is the problem of ever-increasing tuition costs, larger classroom sizes and the long term fiscal sustainability of the seven OUS schools. I’m also curious to see how these projected cuts and greater dependence on tuition reserves factor into the conversation about Lariviere’s white paper and his proposed new partnership with the state. In the short term, however, the Oregon University System seems to be staying at least partly afloat.
Some things have been going on during the last couple of months.
1. University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere released a white paper outlining his idea for a restructure of University funding and management. The proposal includes a $1.6 billion endowment for the university, a portion of which would be financed by state bonds. The legislature is not pleased, but it certainly has folks talking.
2. The UO got grilled hard by the Oregon Senate Business and Transportation Committee about the $227 million arena project, the process for which did not involve an open bidding process, as would most large scale university projects. The committee also tapped into the Bellotti Buyout. The essence of the Willamette Week article linked to above:
The process for building the arena is actually pretty convoluted and complicated, and many people are displeased with the progress.
3. The State of Oregon has a pretty unsustainable budget, to the tune of $563 million that will come in across the board cuts to all state entities. Including a $4.7 million cut to the University of Oregon.
4. The University Senate confirmed large-scale campus speech policy changes, with the addition of a Freedom of Inquiry Policy and Facilities Use Policy. This is a real victory for administrators, who wanted to deal with the Pacifica Forum issue but not be seen as only promoting certain kinds of speech or, y’know, violating the First Amendment. The new facilities use policy dictates that only university recognized groups — not individuals — can access space for free. “Non-university entities” can still have space, but they have to pay for it. You can read the Register-Guard’s opinion here.
5. The UO created an Office of Public Records to deal with public records requests as Lariviere tries to deal with the aftermath of the Mike Bellotti deal and an athletic program on the fringes of his reach. They’re hiring a public records officer, if you’re looking for a job.
7. Phil Knight’s private company, Phit LLC, wants to construct additional football facilities to the Len Casanova Athletic Center. But they want to do it in a way that sidesteps the public bidding process by having this private company lease the land from the university, construct on it, and then donate the finished project back to the University of Oregon. The state approves.
8. Jeremiah Masoli got kicked off the UO football team for getting pulled over with a suspended license and marijuana in his car after rolling a stop sign. Masoli was a good quarterback. He just keeps getting himself into trouble.
And that brings us to today. Those were some things that happened.
Rush Limbaugh enjoyed this fourth wedding last Friday in a ceremony I would have paid to get into. Guests included Karl Rove, Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity, GOP analyst Mary Matalin, Fred Thompson, and, according to People, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I hope they played the wedding game where everyone has to shove cash down the bride’s dress.
Even more unusual was the wedding singer, a Mr. Elton John, whose outspoken support of gay rights and gay civil-union stands in sharp contrast to almost everything Limbaugh has ever said. At least Elton was well paid for his services, raking in $1 million for his matrimonial performance.
The Oregon Commentator, as well as all other student programs with space in the EMU, just received this memo from new ASUO Programs Administrator Sinjin Carey [Friday, June 4]:
Safety is an oft-cited reason for changes in policy that limit student freedoms or compromise students’ ability to access student space. For those who use the EMU quite a bit, you know how much of a bitch it is to get anything done at night or on weekends. Since my time at the University of Oregon, the building has been open for less and less hours and the revenue-generating services that the EMU provides have also been open for less and less time each day. I wonder how this concern is going to be mitigated with the building of a new EMU.
Also, there is one person who decides whether or not students can have keys to their space — EMU Director, Dusty Miller. The EMU Board House Committee will have no say on anything having to do with keys, even though they’re supposed to be the ones in charge of student space in the building. I’ve been told that this policy is in response to a number of instances of students being in the building after hours or on days when the building is closed, most recently the Oregon Commentator. We got in a bit of trouble last Monday for being in the building when it was locked. We weren’t doing anything illicit. We were trying to get our issue out so you guys could have a copy of the Oregon Commentator magazine to take home over the summer.
Granted, being in the building when it is locked does present a nominal safety concern, but there are other ways to go about mitigating those concerns than to remove access for all students for every program. How about actually having DPS officers, you know, do their job? I’ve never ever seen a DPS officer in the EMU, except to check to see that doors are locked at night. They respond to calls, but that’s about it. Maybe having one entrance at night where students can enter to do work?
This is a bad sign. More and more processes within the EMU administration have circumvented students and left decision-making up to the administrators. I’ve been hearing about this from EMU Board members for years, saying that students have no voice or power when it comes to this building that so many of us love and use every day. According to today’s ODE, the decision was made by Dusty Miller alone with no consultation with the EMU Board. I implore the EMU Administration to reconsider this slapdash decision and give students access to the places that they work, socialize, and build greater university community.
Apparently there will be a meeting with ASUO higher-ups and EMU higher-ups today to talk about the decision. When I receive updates on that, I will let you know.
P.S. The ODE article makes it look like I let some random person into the building. The “man” mentioned was a member of the OC staff, and we were in the building trying to work on getting the issue out, like I mentioned above.
P.P.S. Kudos to ASUO President Amélie Rousseau for this quote:
“The fact that we’re restricted access to the building is not acceptable,” Rousseau said of the new decision.
Just received this email from Sinjin Carey:
Last night, the ASUO Student Senate held a special meeting with the purpose of electing a Summer Senate Chair and Vice Chair. Unfortunately, senate meetings never turn out to be as short as we would hope them to be, especially when nobody knows what the hell is going on. But hey, it’s the ASUO Senate. What was I expecting?
The Senate made two monumentally stupid funding decisions last night. The first of which was to allow ASUO fee-funded group Dance Oregon to move their remaining funds into a line item called “Student Dance Concert and Research.” Dance Oregon uses this line item to grant students money to go to summer dance classes and conferences around the world. Dance students can apply to Dance Oregon to receive a grant, and they can essentially use that money to pay for whatever they want for their trip.
This is ridiculous for a number of reasons. First of all, the justification for allowing the group to move money into this line item was that the line item existed in the first place. “Student Dance Concert and Research” is a pretty vague name for a line item, and when PFC approves budgets, they don’t always go line by line. Something like “Scholarships” or “Going on a trip on the student dime” would have been more appropriate.
Second of all, YOU’RE GIVING MONEY TO STUDENTS FOR SCHOLARSHIPS! These students can use the funds for whatever “workshop” or “seminar” or WHATEVER they intend to go on! There is no ASUO oversight there, there is no accountability at all. For a bunch of people who claim themselves to be fiscally responsible, that’s not very responsible.
The other funding decision was definitely the more egregious of the two: the ASUO Senate voted, for the first time in a long time, to give themselves stipends over the summer. That’s right. Senate evaded the stipend model to give themselves money for a job that hasn’t been paid in at least the last five years, potentially longer.
In order to work around the “inconvenience” of a fiscal year that ends on June 30th, Senate approved a surplus request (FOR THEMSELVES, might I add) for $600, even though the total amount to pay the Summer Senate will be $1800 ($50/person/month, $75/person/month for chair and vice-chair). The Summer Senate will then have to allocate themselves money over the summer to pay their stipends.
Just to clarify, Summer Senate does not have the same luxuries as the full body does the rest of the year. They don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to allocate — they have $5000 for the whole summer. That money is supposed to be used for emergencies, if a student group is in desperate need of money for a summer event or some other cost incurred. If Summer Senate does in fact allocate themselves the remaining $1200 for stipends, they will be sucking up almost a quarter of those summer funds. And that money will go right into their pockets.
The rest of the meeting was as good as it could be, with everyone rushing to get things done so they could get out of there. The body lost quorum a couple of times, which was thoroughly entertaining. Sen. Kaitlyn Lange (5 – EMU Board) was elected as Summer Senate Chair and Sen. Zachary Stark-MacMillan (16 – General Science) was elected as Summer Senate Vice Chair. Apparently Sen. Jeremy Blanchard (10 – DFC) has a long list of rules changes he wants to pound out over the summer. And the whole Summer Senate wants to work on projects outside of funding, because, y’know, the ASUO Executive gets to.
Speaking of the Executive, they did get through a number of their appointments before Senate adjourned early. Each of the appointments was thoroughly coached by President Rousseau and Political Director Robert D’Andrea, as indicated by the number of times “fiscal responsibility” and “viewpoint neutrality” came up unprovoked. From what I’ve seen so far, Robert’s tactic is just to coach people on how to avoid answering a question. Amelie certainly does it, but more on that later. Senate confirmed appointments to the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee, EMU Board, and also confirmed an Elections Coordinator, William Price. He had a well-rehearsed speech, he apparently has had no involvement in the ASUO thus far, and will probably make a pretty good Elections Coordinator. I mean, as good as an Elections Coordinator can be. Especially with D’Andrea breathing down his neck creepily all the time.
So, that’s the last Senate meeting of Spring 2010. I’ll be covering the sure-to-be-sneaky activities over the summer as well, so stay tuned to the OC for your weekly entertainment.