EUGENE – Members of five student groups waited in the back of the EMU Walnut Room for their turn to make their pitch. Some of these groups were almost brand new, some had seen this body many times before. But last night had to have been strange for all of them. Usually, the hearing and allocation of special requests is an integral part of the Senate’s duties, a co-equal task to its many others. But this was a special night.
Firstly, they were meeting on a Tuesday, an unusual step by any stretch of the imagination. Second, the very short agenda held no officer updates, no committee reports and no old business or discussion. Only one item lay under the header “new business,” the item that defined this meeting: “Override of Executive ACFC Budget Veto.”
When the time came, ASUO President Amelie Rousseau was brief. “I want to talk about what our plan is.” Rousseau explained that she, along with the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee, would be attempting to renegotiate the Lane Transit District contract to make room in the ACFC’s budget for a contract with OSPIRG. These efforts would continue through March 15, according to Rousseau, who explained “If it doesn’t work and we get to March 15, fine, we’ll go with the budget we have.”
Sen. Kaitlyn Lange was not happy with the veto, saying she took it “personal” and that renegotiating the LTD contract had risks. Lange went on to say that the veto did not value the hard work done by ACFC members, and if she were sitting on the body and the veto were upheld, she would resign. She passed this suggestion to ACFC members, saying, “If I were you, I would have a good spring term and leave.”
The discussion, which was slated to begin at 10 P. M. ran for 10 minutes until Sen. Brian Powell moved to call the question. A number of seconds flew through the air and the vote by acclimation was narrowly in favor.
The room held its collective breath again as Sen. Zachary Stark-MacMillan called the roll, much as the scene was two weeks ago when the same group held almost the same vote. This time, the results were rather different.
Twelve votes in favor of overriding, eight against. A majority, but not the two thirds needed to override. The veto stuck.
The meeting was not over, though five senators promptly headed for the exits. Two of the special requests had been shuffled to the end of the meeting and still had to be dealt with. This was done in short order, and the proceedings ended a half hour ahead of schedule. All that was left was the aftermath.
For some, that was a state of shock. Two votes had changed from two weeks ago. Not all found this shift suprising, however. Former ASUO Political Director Robert D’Andrea told the Commentator, “That was our count going in.”
One vote that changed, Sen. Kate Bidwell, explained her change of heart by saying, “Over the past two weeks, I’ve really tried to focus in on what I think is the most effective decision for this organization.” Sen. Grace Hochstatter, the other member whose vote changed, was unavailable for comment.
For others, the aftermath was celebratory. “I’m really excited, I think that this is the next step to making sure we can have a better contract for students, because hopefully we always have more services for the same amount of money” said Rousseau.
For a few people, the biggest repercussion of the vote was more work. “We’re going to talk to the Executive and we’ll be a part of the conversation with LTD this Friday. We’ll probably put forth a budget, although at this point, [Rousseau] does have the decision making power,” said Sen. Ian Fielding, ACFC vice chair.
Fielding went on to explain that if a final budget is not approved by the Senate, signed by the Executive, and submitted to the university administration by a certain deadline, the Executive can, according to the Green Tape Notebook, submit its own budget to the administration. Fielding explained that, due to the logistics of reworking the budgets and scheduling hearings to approve them, this would likely be the case.
For at least one person, the aftermath focused on something beyond the vote and the budget itself. Former Sen. Demic Tipitino, in an interview with the Commentator, claimed that Stark-MacMillan had not submitted the budget to the Executive within the timeline specified by the GTN. Tipitino told the Commentator that, while he was considering filing a grievance, he was under the impression that someone else had already done so. The Commentator was unable to confirm whether or not a grievance had been filed.
Alex Tomchak Scott contributed reporting to this article.
News, Stats, and Opinion after the jump.
Club Persia, the Arab Student Union, the Survival Center, and the Forensics Department all had requests for surplus funds approved. The American Institute of Architecture Students received a line item transfer.
Meeting Duration: 85 Minutes (no recesses)
Money Allocated from Surplus: $13, 862
All Members Present
Resignation Count: 7
Didn’t see that coming.