ASUO President Amelie Rousseau has officially vetoed the Atheltics and Contracts Finance Committee budget due to its lack of inclusion of a contract for the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group.
Her veto letter to Senate (which can be found below the jump) cites support for OSPIRG, including mention of its winning ballot measure in the 2010 ASUO election and how the outcome shows widespread support for the contract. She also mentions that OSPIRG teaches students to be “leaders of social change.”
I’m pretty sick and tired of the Executive”s marginalization of student groups and students in general. She came into office, guns blazing, throwing around all the things she wanted to do with no regard for who they might affect.
For instance, the Sustainability Coalition, a brand new student group with first year funding for 2011-12, already has its own office (Sustainability Center) and its own full-time staff coordinator (Sustainability Coordinator). How did they receive such coveted space when there are many student groups that are operating with zero space? They moved eight student groups into temporary offices in the Break, with no opportunities for other student groups to apply for that space.
(The smoking ban also fits in here, but we’ll leave that for another time.)
I understand that the Sustainability Center will encompass many student groups on campus, but so could any arbitrary grouping of programs. Rousseau’s aid of a certain section of student groups while marginalizing another section is bothersome, and shows through with her support of OSPIRG.
My opposition to the PIRG has nothing to do with the issues they choose to fund. If the University of Oregon had been funding a CFACT chapter for 30 years, I would be fighting to get it zero-funded as well. These programs pull from a pool of mandatory student fees to send money off campus to lobby/advocate/whatever for political causes. Whether or not I agree with the particular cause is not important. It’s about the management of my student fee and the student fee of many other students.
The individuals in power right now (and it is the ASUO, so that power has the opportunity to run rampant) seem to believe that raising the fee to exorbitant levels is just A-OK. The growing fee in the face of rapidly rising tuition presents a barrier to students, and until the ASUO has effective outreach mechanisms in place, most parts of incidental fee are going to affect the same 2,000 students who are already involved. The growth of programs (especially when they are not necessarily being efficient or effective with their money) is not necessarily beneficial to the majority of incidental fee-paying students.
Whatever. Anyone who reads the Commentator blog already knows our opinion on OSPIRG — if not, do a quick search. It’s not about a pervading conservative ideal trying to stifle activism and progressive viewpoints. It’s about proper management of funds and using logic to make financial decisions. The PIRG has received its fair share of hearings — more than any other department, program or contract — and has still been allocated zero funding. For the third year in a row. Maybe it’s time for the PIRG die-hards to listen and make changes to their funding structure if its presence is so needed and beneficial on campus.
Rousseau’s letter to Senate after the jump.
I am vetoing the Athletic Contracts Finance Committee Budget because it does not include a contract for the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group. OSPIRG provides a valuable and unique service to our student body through its advocacy, organizing, and campus leadership development program. OSPIRG fights for our collective interest as citizens and provides a service to all Oregonians, thereby fulfilling the mission statements of both the ASUO and the University. It is our responsibility as students to give back to the community that sustains us. OSPIRG is an incredible vehicle with which to give back.
My opinion is shared by thousands of other students. In the April 2010 primary election, a majority of students voted in favor of funding OSPIRG because they would like a portion of their student fee dollars to go to fund off-campus advocacy around public interest issues. It is the responsibility of the ASUO to represent those students.
This budget does not represent the many students who want to fund advocacy on public interest issues, and give back to the community around them. Although the budget adequately represents many other types of students – students who go to football games, students who ride the bus, students who require legal advice – there is not even a small fraction that represents students as citizens of the world who care about having more affordable healthcare, a functional public transit system, a more transparent government, or a clean environment in which to live.
We have also seen the many students who have benefitted from the on-campus campaign work that OSPIRG has facilitated, learning valuable field skills. OSPIRG teaches people to be leaders in social change.
I would like the Senate to come back with an ACFC budget that funds OSPIRG so that we can adequately represent all students and fulfill the service mission of our University.