Archive for the 'OSPIRG' Category
Monday, February 25th, 2013
Somehow OSPIRG continues to crawl about our campus “advocating” causes it could otherwise accomplish or address itself.
“Do you care about Crater Lake?”
No. I care that the insane amount of money I spend at this school goes toward practical, achievable things (or even causes, if you will). It’s great that our (NOTE: a very vague and presumptuous possessive adjective) interests as students are being “advocated” for by people with good intentions, but that’s not enough. If the students behind OSPIRG want it to be a group so badly, it needs to fit the same criteria that other student groups are subject to.
Senate Ombudsperson Ben Rudin (who, contrary to popular reports, does not double-park in handicap spaces nor does he boot sick puppies from the sidewalk) was quoted in the Ol’ Dirty link above, explaining, “The fact that I agree with most of what they advocate does not make one iota of difference, legally. The fact that their viewpoints are popular does not make one iota of difference, either. Factoring in either of those is a flagrant violation of viewpoint neutrality.”
If the students behind OSPIRG really care about a certain set of issues, and want to spend the students’ collective I-fee on changing things for the better, they must address their structure (read: become a transparent group, not a PIRG), center their focus, and enact said change on the campus from whence the funds came. Lord Phil knows we’ve got enough problems right here on campus.
Hold on, I’m not done yet. If Ombudsperson Rudin didn’t say it good enough the first time, he left a comment under that Ol’ Dirty article that really hits the nail on OSPIRG’s head:
It’s a legit consideration when deciding how to contribute your own money, not other people’s.
“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical” – Thomas Jefferson. I think he should have included women, but otherwise the statement is dead on.
Monday, April 9th, 2012
Updated 4/9/12 – 3:35 PM
1) ASUO Constitution Court rules “these matters are best left to the ASUO Elections Board for adjudication.”
And also! Both related and unrelated..
2) ASUO Constitution Court rules to remove VP Candidate Lamar Wise from his position as ASUO Senate President as a result of a grievance filed by ASUO Senator Lindy Mabuya.
A Statement from the Katie & Alex Campaign:
“We made it a standard to run a clean campaign and I am extremely disappointed that this isolated incident has occurred where two individuals exercised extremely poor judgment. It saddens me immensely that this has occurred, as the rest of the Katie and Alex team, as well as the Ben and Lamar team, ran an amazing outreach drive to engage students on extremely important matters. The individuals responsible for this have been removed from the campaign.”
Ben Bowman and Lamar Wise of the Ben & Lamar campaign, along with Sam Dotters-Katz of the YES (Your EMU SRC) campaign, have filed grievances against the Katie & Alex campaign; they claim to have been hacked by Chuckie-D himself (Former OSPIRG Chair Charles Denson, spouse of VP Katie Taylor), and that their campaign materials were fucked with.
Wait what? Ben & Lamar’s management team confronted the Katie & Alex campaign, and “at least five” members “came forward with this information and all showed remorse except for Denson*.”
Hacked how? Wise says he lost access to his Gmail after opening a phishing website disguised as a Google Calendar component. Dotters-Katz says his email was also tampered with.
Fucked with how? Denson apparently used “find and replace” to jumble 12,000 phone numbers on a contact list of possible Ben & Lamar voters. The grievance states that hundreds of volunteer hours were wasted making calls to the wrong people. Dotters-Katz had a similar complaint, claiming that contacts of the YES campaign were either deleted or tampered with. Among the deleted was a list of student leaders in support of the campaign.
So who exactly? The grievances name Katie Taylor, Charles Denson, Kerry Snodgrass, Molly Bennison and Andrew Rogers as the people aware of the act.
Sam Dotters-Katz is calling this an “unprecedented act of cyber espionage.”
The Ben & Lamar campaign is calling for an immediate injunction on the election.
As for us at The Oregon Commentator, we’re calling for Katie Taylor and Charles Denson’s expulsion from planet earth. That’s right. We’re tired of writing about them. Did you think we were actually surprised by this? They’re simply living up to what we’ve called them out on being all along: the devil’s spawn. Look, this isn’t an absurd accusation. They’re a young married couple! Why else would they devote themselves to a life’s work of student manipulation? It just doesn’t make any sense.
We’ll just have to see what the
ASUO Constitution Court ASUO Elections Board does about this. Since these grievances concern the devil himself, let’s hope the Court Board likes a good exorcism.
Demons be gone!
*This post is a regurgitation of this ODE article, so read the original. Love you Emily!
Thursday, March 1st, 2012
While I trust that any reader of the OC blog is in-tune with the OSPIRG controversy, last night ASUO Senator Ben Rudin delivered an eloquent dissent before the final ACFC budget was passed by a splintered ASUO Senate body. It wasn’t humanly possible to transcribe Senator Rudin’s statement in real time on CoverItLive– so we’ve got the transcription here just for you, concerned reader. He relays the OSPIRG plight quite nicely:
Direct question to anyone supporting OSPIRG and wants to answer: why do you think OSPIRG is so controversial? [get answers]
I’ll say right now, I’ll leave the arguments against the insane 97% increase to my colleagues, because to me the issue isn’t the amount, it’s the principle. The reason it is so controversial, and the reason I’m adamantly against this budget, is it flies in the face of people’s freedom to contribute to the political causes they support and refrain from supporting political causes they oppose. You wanna talk student autonomy? It’s the autonomy of every individual student. Freedom of association a fundamental right every individual has and it should remain that way for their time at this University. Anything else is slap in the face to student autonomy.
At this point I usually hear something like “I might not agree with funding athletics, or LTD, or Campus Recycling, but you’re suggesting I should still have to pay for those. How is it different?” It’s fundamentally different. Governments make public policy choices all the time, and funding decisions that reflect them. For example, take the war in Iraq. You may oppose it, as I did for most of its duration, but it’s a legitimate public policy decision. To start the process of correcting such mistakes, we have the First Amendment, which ensures we can protest, petition, lobby, advocate, the list goes on, and government cannot dictate, control, encourage, or prohibit that process. It is to ensure we have the ability to raise awareness of injustices going on, and government is unable to do anything about it.
So government can tax me to pay for its wars, even if I disagree with them, but I’ll be damned if government uses even a penny of my money to manipulate the processes protected by the First Amendment, processes that are specifically meant to protect individuals’ rights to persuade government to change course, or voters to change course in the ballot box.
At this point I usually hear, “Rudin, you’re at a loss. We have viewpoint neutrality. We fund advocacy groups all the time, as it’s part of our mission of fostering a dynamic discussion on political, religious, social, and cultural issues.” You’re right about that. I am all about providing students the tools to engage in such dynamic discussions, and we do that very well by funding our programs, including but not limited to Students for Choice, Students for Life, and the Commentator. Furthermore, if a group of students came before us saying “We’re very passionate about [this issue]. We’ve gotten a group of students together who really want to make a difference on this issue! We want to go advocate about this in Salem, and we just need some money to get there and back and take care of any other logistics.” My response would be, “done, I’m voting for this.”
You can argue it all you want, but that is not what funding OSPIRG is. Funding OSPIRG would be like a group of students coming before us saying “We’re very passionate about [this issue]. We’ve got a group of students together who really want to make a difference on this issue. We really want to see something done about this, so we need some money to pay the salary of someone to advocate in Salem full-time and year-round on [this issue].” And my response would be, “I love your passion, I admire the hard work you do, and while you don’t have a claim to other people’s money to pay someone to advocate on your issue, the door is always open if you are wanting to go to Salem yourself and need some financial help to do it.” That’s the key difference. I’ll say it again, I am all about having a student body engaged, informed, and acting on issues, and I’m all about spending the money so students can do that. No matter how much you say otherwise, paying professional advocates is not doing that. It’s like making your own outline versus buying a commercial. Most of the value is in creating the outline, not the finished product. That is lost when someone just buys a commercial outline, and that is analogous to hiring professional advocates. Professional advocates are where the bulk of the money for OSPIRG goes, and why I’m against it. If you are willing to vote for such a thing in all situations, ok, you’re being viewpoint neutral and I just completely disagree, but if you are voting for OSPIRG’s because you think they provide a service based on the issues they advocate, you are suggesting those who advocate a different or contrary issue are performing a disservice. That is viewpoint discrimination.
Another thing I hear is, “You’re not going after OSA and USSA and they’re just like OSPIRG!” No they’re not. From the perspective of a student service, they are opposites. OSA and USSA like an organization coming before us saying “We’ve got a great training program. We’re all about training students how to effectively lobby and then giving the experience to go lobby in Salem! This is a valuable service for students and an important skill to have, and we just need some money so we can provide this training and experience to your students!” My response would be “done! You got my vote.” That is completely different from students saying they’re passionate about an issue so they have a right to use a mandatory fee to pay someone to advance their political agenda. I don’t care how many students agree with the viewpoint, the advancement of a political agenda is not a student service.
That brings me to a final point. Unlike OSA and USSA, OSPIRG is a 501(c)(3). I assume most of you don’t speak tax law, so a 501(c)(3) simply means a charitable cause. You donate to them, you get a tax deduction for donating to charity. That’s all well and good, except Senate Rule 12.5(a)(M) says “at no time may incidental fee monies be donated to charitable causes.” You might be thinking “this isn’t a donation, it’s a contract.” I hate to break it to you, but donations are contracts. For example, if someone donates to the UO Foundation for a specific project, that is a donation. It’s also a contract because if the UO Foundation misuses the money, the donor has recourse. The way a contract is not a donation is if a quid pro quo (this for that) is involved. For example, we contract with the Emerald, and they publish us newspapers. We contract with SASS, and they provide us free sexual assault support services. We contract with OSPIRG, and most of the money goes to professional advocates trying to create what some people consider a “better world.” Giving an organization money in exchange for bettering the world, THAT IS A DONATION. Not only do I find this expenditure fundamentally wrong for it amounts to coerced speech, but it potentially violates the Senate rules. I urge a no vote in the strongest possible terms.
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Former ASUO Senator Chris Bocchicchio has filed a grievance with the ASUO Constitution Court requesting the removal of ASUO Vice President Katie Taylor from office.
If this comes as a surprise to you– please, just crawl back under your rock, and emerge only after you’ve read this.
In his formal complaint, Bocchicchio states:
“The rules are simple, disclose conflicts of interest. Even if Vice President Taylor never had to vote on the 97% budget increase recommendation for OSPIRG, she still would be in violation for failure to disclose. The fact that she knowingly hid her conflict of interest, and then actually voted on that same conflict, and for a 97% funding increase of over $100,000, is one of the greatest injustices of any ASUO elected official in the institution’s history.”
According to the ASUO Green Tape Notebook, VP Taylor has a week to respond to the grievance. She was quick, however, to talk to the Ol’ Dirty, and quick to attack those who have called for her removal– because Bocchicchio isn’t the first.
ASUO Senator Kaitlyn Lange called for VP Taylor’s removal last month to no avail.
“I think it is disturbing and enlightening that both of the people asking for my recall are former or current employees of Division of Student Affairs,” Taylor told the ODE. “I also think it is sad these people are wasting Con Court’s time for personal or political gain.”
In light of your marriage to former OSPIRG chair Charles Denson, VP Taylor, do you really want to go callin’ shit “disturbing and enlightening?”
“I would like to know what either of these people have done for students,” Taylor continued. “I am working for students’ best interests.”
By “working for students’ best interests” you mean refusing to disclose a blatant conflict of interest, then providing a tie-breaking vote that allocates over $100,000 of students’ money to this same conflict of interest—- right?
Well, just so we’re clear, Bocchicchio’s complaint is NOT A CALL FOR IMPEACHMENT, but a request for Con. Court to do their job:
“The ASUO Constitution is clear, non-fulfillment of duties for a period over three weeks will result in that office being declared vacant. This is not an impeachment. The process for removal of the ASUO President is clear, and nowhere does it mention that removal of a Vice President occurs through the impeachment process. The ASUO Constitution mandates that the Vice President carry out certain tasks, therefore the Constitution Court should mandate that the ASUO President appoint any student for that position other than Katie Taylor.”
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see. Like Bocchicchio, the Oregon Commentator looks forward to the day when the ASUO will actually fulfill its purpose.
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
In a shocking and heartening turn of events, someone out there doesn’t want to throw money at OSPIRG’s feet, and the right people decided to listen: on February 26th, the Con Court ruled in favor of Rudin on his viewpoint neutrality grievance against Bowman, according to the ODE. The stage is now set for the ACFC to vote again on the matter of OSPIRG’s funding.
The necessary majority within the court found Bowman’s pro-OSPIRG statements violated viewpoint neutrality, a precedent set by the Supreme Court which the ASUO is obligated to follow. The ACFC will now be required to hold another vote on whether OSPIRG will receive that whopping 97% increase, which will be held Wednesday.
In response to the decision, Rudin noted, “I was pleased that Con Court agreed with what I have been saying all along, that we must allocate student fee money based on services provided, not viewpoint of the organization.”
Opposition to the decision seems to already be pouring into the inbox of the ODE Opinion office, with people gnashing their teeth over the fact that OSPIRG isn’t going to have their $86k budget nearly doubled without a little oversight. We here at the Commentator, however, congratulate Senator Rudin for taking away the ACFC’s rubber stamp for the time being. We might be able to put the money we would’ve otherwise had to pay OSPIRG into some hot stripper’s thong, yet.
For a full breakdown of the of the Ben v. Ben extravaganza, look no further.
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
(photo credit: Lumiere)
As reported by Emily Schiola in today’s ODE, ASUO Vice President Katie Taylor and former OSPIRG Board Chair Charles Denson have been engaged in wedlock since November 2009, when Denson was working for the notorious fee-wasting “student” group. Since Denson was the chair of OSPIRG’s board until a month ago, this raises huge questions of favoritism and conflict of interest in the support the Eckstein-Taylor administration has shown for OSPIRG. Apparently there were also members to the ASUO who were complicit in hiding this important piece of information from the student body.
“Taylor acknowledged that there are members of the ASUO who know about the marriage,” Schiola wrote, “but said [she] doesn’t talk about her personal life often.”
Though both Taylor and Denson assert ”that they keep their professional and personal lives separate,” it seems incredibly unlikely that they wouldn’t be at least doing a little ASUO role-play every now and then (“I make a motion to put myself inside you….” “Motion accepted.”).
All sex talk aside, its incredibly shady and irresponsible of Taylor to hide this from the student body she claims to support, especially with the OSPIRG budget decision looming (for those not in the know, they want to up it by 97 percent. Yes, really.) How can approving an unnecessary budget increase for a program that your HUSBAND was Board Chair of not more than a month ago not be construed as favoritism? We will have to see how Taylor rationalizes that one.
There have been rumblings that this is purely a sham marriage concocted to receive better financial benefits (much like my own) something that is incredibly illegal and distasteful for two people holding public office (but completely acceptable for two editors of a political humor rag.)
What will come of this explosive revelation? Probably nothing, because 80-9 percent of the student body has no idea what OSPIRG is beyond the annoying canvassers who stand outside of Lillis. But for the tiny percentage of us who give a fuck about the dishonest conduct of our governing body, Taylor has amends to make. She should either A) divorce Denson and defund OSPIRG; B) renew their vows together in the Fishbowl on a crowded Wednesday afternoon and defund OSPIRG; or C) engage in polygamy with Robert D’Andrea and Denson to make this Devil’s threesome complete and defund OSPIRG . These are the only acceptable way for her to rectify her insidious betrayal to the students of UO.
(Edit: an earlier version of this post was published under Alex Tomchak Scott’s name. The real author was Sophie.)
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Publisher Emeritus Ross Coyle (pictured) and Editor-in-Chief Sophia Lawhead have been in a sham marriage for two years. They have never so much as been photographed together.
Look, it didn’t occur to us until now that this would be an issue, but our editor-in-chief and publisher emeritus have been married for two years.
Better financial aid packages are available to married students and, though Publisher Emeritus Ross Coyle’s schooling was paid for because he is a member of the US Army Reserve, Editor-in-Chief Sophia Lawhead would not have had the money to attend the University of Oregon if her sham marriage to Coyle didn’t up her financial aid.
Coyle has said he thought the marriage would be a romantic union when he entered into it. Lawhead admits she perpetuated that illusion.
The Commentator is unapologetic about this situation. It’s a matter of class. Some of us have rich parents who can pay our way through school. Others need to defraud the government. It’s all in the game.
Lawhead said her relationship with Coyle “has not had any impact” on the Commentator’s affairs.
“This year, I have been more removed from the Oregon Commentator than I ever have,” Lawhead said.
We wouldn’t have even mentioned it except that it seems this kind of thing is such a big deal to everybody.
Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
In the restaurant industry, to “86″ something is to strike something from the menu, almost always because the house has run out it (or the supplies to make it). I am not referring to this figure of speech in my headline.
Instead I am referring to approximate size, in thousands of dollars, of OSPIRG’s contract under the ACFC Budget sent by the ASUO Executive to the University President.
In a memo summarizing their funding choices, the Exec said that “the executive recommends that the ACFC require all contracts to be transparent, and provide detailed information on how their respective services will be provided.” The memo went on to say that, “Vaguely worded services provided by contracts shall not be accepted.”
The OSPIRG contract will be for $86,280. The rest of the budget looks just like the first ACFC budget past last term, except that the renegotiation of the Lane Transit District contract is reflected. That renegotiation reduced the amount of the LTD contract by $86,280. The Total ACFC budget is $4,007,629, an increase of seven percent.
Friday, April 1st, 2011
The ASUO Constitution Court issued its opinion in In Review of Request for Consent by ASUO President Concerning ACFC Budget (32 C.C. 2010/2011) earlier today. In this opinion, the court granted ASUO President Amelie Rousseau the authority to craft her own ACFC budget and submit it to the University Administration.
Eventually you will be able to link to the Court’s opinion here (as soon as they post it.)
Details as to exactly what Rousseau’s budget will look like will be forthcoming.
Thursday, March 31st, 2011
This headline is a reference to the ACFC’s budget process and the fact that its final stages are dragging on like the last thirty seconds of a closely contested basketball game.
During last night’s Senate meeting, after the (abjectly pointless) discussion of grade inflation and the approval of a host of special requests, a recess was requested and approved. Upon commencing this recess, a large contingent of Senators, including (but not limited to) Sens. Max Barkley, Janet Brooks, Ian Fielding, Kaitlyn Lange, Brian Powell, and Bri Woodside-Gomez left the room and did not return. The meeting was adjourned for lack of quorum.
Since there was not a vote held to override the veto of the ACFC budget, and the Senate’s budget timeline has expired, it is unclear at this moment what the status of the ACFC budget is. I’ll be investigating today.
For those of you keeping track, the meeting lasted just over an hour and a half, with $950 allocated from Surplus. Fielding’s resignation becomes effective on Friday, which will be the eighth of this year. Not including those departing after the recess, the absence list included Sens. Blake Sedgley, Kerry Snodgrass and Evan Thomas.
UPDATE – I just received a copy of the Constitution Court’s opinion (31 C.C. 2010/2011) regarding the petition Brooks submitted yesterday. (Referenced in “ACFC Budget Fun Continues” OC Blog 30 March 2011). According to the Court, if the Senate does not either override the veto or approve a budget that ASUO President Amelie Rousseau will sign by midnight tonight, then the Court will “determine the next steps to be taken,” which may include granting budget writing authority to the Executive. Since 24 hours notice is required to call a Senate Meeting, this may well be the end of this one.
UPDATE: Senate President Zachary Stark-MacMillen has told the Commentator that the Senate will not meet tonight.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article contained ambiguous language regarding Concourt’s opinion in 31 C.C. (2010/2011). The Commentator regrets the error, which has since been corrected.
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
I was going to write a lovely story about how ACFC’s budget was passed without an OSPIRG contract last night during a special Senate meeting (by a vote of 9-8) but intervening circumstances have intervened. Besides, you’ve read the same quotes from the same people about the same aspects of the PIRG time and time again. I can say it was an interesting meeting for sure, if for no other reason than that almost no one was there. The only audience members besides myself and Mr. Bains were ASUO Finance Coordinator Colleen Soles and an unidentified blonde middle-aged woman.
According to an email from Sen. Janet Brooks to the Constitution Court, ASUO President Amelie Rousseau vetoed the budget this morning. Brooks argues to the court that because the Senate budget was passed by the final deadline of March 29 dictated by the Court in an email to Senators accompanying their decision in 30 C.C. (2010-2011). Brooks continues to say that Rousseau did not veto the budget by the March 29 deadline, and thus the budget as passed by the Senate last night should be considered valid.
The Senate will attempt to override the veto this evening during their regularly scheduled meeting, but if the vote goes as the last one did, there will not be enough votes to override.
If that occurs, it is unknown what will happen next. Presumably, Concourt will give Rousseau the authority to write a budget, which will almost certainly include some sort of OSIPRG Contract.
UPDATE – The following email chain was accidentally send to the the entire “concourtdecision” listserv:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Andrae Washington <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 5:00 PM
Subject: concourtdecision: Re: URGENT: ACFC Veto
To: Nicholas B Schultz <email@example.com>
You can address it. I think the senate can present the budget to the state. Alternatively, if the deadline is passed and the senate takes no action whatsoever then the budget will go directly to the hands of University administration. I don’t see anyway the President can grab the budget in time. The Senate has vetoed twice and the senate has overridden the decision. The deference provided to the Senate in the Clark document makes it clear that they are the legislative branch in charge of the budget. The President only get the budget-in my opinion–when the Senate evidence inaction. Since the Senate has made itself clear the budget veto is valid. However, in the absence of anything further actions the budget likely stays as is and goes to University Admin.
In all honestly I am going to be overwhelmed with ROTC stuff so, just make sure you edit the opinion well and you can send it out yourself. To announce a decision you send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Mar 30, 2011, at 4:38 PM, Nicholas B Schultz wrote:
Yeah I can write the opinion. I agree with most of your points…we did say the deadline was 3/31 so they have time to override the veto until midnight. Should I address what will happen after that time frame, based on what the justices say? Or should i just say they have until the 31st and uphold the legitimacy of the President’s veto
On Wed, 30 Mar 2011 16:34:38 -0700, Andrae Washington wrote:
I emailed before I was done. How about you write this opinion. We likely have it out tonight. I will edit it quickly once you are done. In my reading of the ASUO constitution the Senate can submit the budget directly the oregon board of higher education. They also maintain a veto override, so they still have tomorrow to hold another meeting. We set their deadline as the 31st. The 29th was too hold a ACFC vote. Now that the Prez has vetoed again they have till 12am on the 31st to override the veto. This is all laid out in the GTN and the Clark document,
On Mar 30, 2011, at 3:54 PM, Andrae Washington wrote:
FROM: Andrae Washington
DATE: March 30, 2011 3:17:15 PM PDT
TO: Jerrett C. Glass
SUBJECT: RE: URGENT: ACFC VETO
it goes back to senate for veto override
On Mar 30, 2011, at 3:10 PM, Jerrett C. Glass wrote:
How I see it 5.6 still applies, the president vetoed the budget meaning the deadline is not met. I don’t see an alternative to giving Amelie power of the budget unless we ignore 5.6 or some other twisting of the words of the GTN. Does anyone else come out with a different outcome?
Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Since my last report (Veto Upheld, That Is All: ASUO Senate Recap 07 March 2011), much has changed.
The Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee met Sunday for a little over a half hour. During this hearing, the committee announced that it had cut $84,264 from the Lane Transit District contract during renegotiations on Friday. The committee decided, during the meeting, to allocate $38,000 to the athletic department and $3,600 to Sexual Assault Support Services. The remaining $42,664 went unallocated, reducing the ACFC Budget to $3,964,991.00, an increase of 6.32 percent over this year’s levels.
In a memo sent to the Executive and Senate, the committee explained “The ACFC had decided ultimately to not fund OSPIRG. The reasons for this where mixed. Some members felt it was unethical to mandate a fee for a public interest research group without implementing an-opt out fee. Other members felt the money could be better spent. The group would reconsider this allocation if various funding mechanisms were pursued further.”
The Senate attempted to meet Monday night to pass the new budget, but could not make quorum. Many believed that this, combined with the timeline desired by Robin Holmes and others in the administration, would allow ASUO President Amelie Rousseau to submit her own budget to the administration.
However, the Constitution Court ruled today that the administration’s desired deadline was not binding, and that Senate had until March 31 to submit a budget. “The Court is unpersuaded by the fact that University administration would like the budget by March 18, March 29 or any other date. University Administration has to adhere to the ASUO Constitution just like all other branches of the ASUO,” said Chief Justice Andrae Washington in the Court’s Per Curium opinion. The Court went on to explain that the two days the Senate is bound to act on the ACFC’s new recommendation within will not begin until March 25.
So now, instead of perhaps receiving the gift of a contract directly from Rousseau, OSPIRG will apparently have to go at least one more round with the Senate during the first week of Spring Term.
Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
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.
Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
For those of you that follow along at home, this will make Senate much more enjoyable. This is of course applicable to any Senate meeting. Cheers!
ASUO Drinking Game Rules:
Drink every time
- There is actually a meeting
- OSPIRG shows up to said meeting
- Someone abstains from voting
Take a shot when:
- President Amelie Rousseau
- Rousseau leaves
- Senate hands out $10,000 or more.
- There is a lone “nay”
Upend your homemade four loko when:
- Kamal yells at senate or
- Senate goes over their estimated end time by more than 2 hours
Thursday, February 24th, 2011
OSPIRG State Board Treasurer Katie Taylor discusses the group's appeal with Senate members Wednesday night. Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll
EUGENE – The tension in the room was noticeable and focused Wednesday night. Even a group dinner at Sen. Kaitlyn Lange’s house prior to the meeting couldn’t erase the unease the 21 members of the ASUO Student Senate displayed throughout the evening, though one can only imagine what it would have looked like without the informal gathering prior to.
The rest of the agenda passed in a blur, until just past 10 P. M. After the meeting had returned to order, four students stepped into the open space at the end of the U-shaped table in the EMU Walnut room and almost five months of deliberation, debate and anxious anticipation came to a crescendo as the Senate took up OSPIRG’s appeal of the contract decision handed down by the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee.
The presentation from OSPIRG and the public comment period that followed were only a prelude to the Senate discussion that would follow, but it still OSPIRG’s first presentation to the Senate this year, and they used it for all it was worth. OSPIRG State Board Chair Charles Denson told the senators that OSPIRG was important to students because, “Rather than just doing things on campus, they’re able to take up a bigger perspective.” Denson went on to say that “Students want to be at the forefront of solving problems.”
With the conclusion of public discussion, the Senate speaker’s list was opened and almost every senator quickly stuck their hands out across the table to be added to it. Sen. Lamar Wise started out the evening’s discussion by saying that he thought that OSPIRG would be a good compliment to the campaigns the ASUO runs on various issues and moved to add a $45,000 contract to the ACFC’s Budget.
Sen. Evan Thomas was the first to speak against the contract. “I like your mission statement,” he said, but continued, “I don’t think this is where you should be getting your funding.”
Potential legal ramifications of funding OSPIRG were also discussed by Thomas, who said, “For senators that aren’t aware, this has been an issue across the country since 1983. There have been dozens of lawsuits.” Thomas expressed his belief that, without significant infrastructure changes, funding OSPIRG would result in a lawsuit directed against the University.
Sen. Kerry Snodgrass disagreed with this rationale, saying, “Please consider that as ASUO senators we are not responsible for making legal decisions for the University of Oregon.”
Others were more philosophical in their disagreements with OSPIRG. “I see no hindering of this state, campus, or nation by not funding OSPIRG,” said Sen. Max Barkley.
For many senators, it simply came down to a matter of dollars. Without an OSPIRG contract, the ACFC’s budget was set to grow by seven percent next year, the legal maximum for a major program budget. Other methods of channeling money to the ACFC were considered, as was drawing money from the athletic department. But a number of senators were not comfortable with these options. “We can’t joke about the fact that this money will be taken away from athletics,” said Lange. “We still don’t have the funds for this.”
Sen. Kristina Harding summarized these sentiments very succinctly, saying, “it just seems like that money isn’t there.”
The discussion got heated at times, prompting Sen. Zachary Stark-MacMillan to remind the body to, “Remember that we’re all students. Please be respectful.”
The arguments flew back and forth for almost two and a half hours. Eventually, Wise declared, “I don’t think we’re going to get much of anywhere.” Despite this, it still took three attempts to call the question and the number of names on the speakers list never dropped below double digits.
But it was bound to happen eventually, and it finally did a little after midnight. As Stark-MacMillan read off the roll, just as happens multiple times a week every year, the whole room held its breath as the results of the vote that everyone had waited for finally came in. Five ayes, 14 nays.
Some of the votes were unexpected. When asked about his nay vote, Sen. James Dos Santos told the Commentator that, to him, “The money really doesn’t exist. It’s like a hypothetical figure.”
Sen. Grace Hochstatter, who voted nay, told the Commentator, “I’m in support of OSPIRG and everything they do.” She continued to say that she felt the organization needed to be structured differently. “I think that this will be a catalyst, a conduit for that reconsideration, and hopefully good will come of this.”
Like a wave crashing on the beach and then quickly rolling in, the meeting accelerated towards its conclusion. ACFC’s final budget was quickly passed with minimal opposition, and the procedural matters of committee and officer updates were but a soft, delicate coda to a symphony of a meeting.
But the symphony is not yet over. When asked by the Commentator if she still intended to veto the ACFC budget, ASUO President Amelie Rousseau paused before flatly saying, “yes.” She continued to explain that, “The Executive is the only entity that’s providing a proactive option to have the most amount of students be happy with the ACFC budget.”
Stats, Notes, and Opinion after the jump. (more…)