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No Surprises

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.

  1. Caroline says:

    It depends on which angle you look at it, for me i don’t think their decision was too stupid I just think they did what they thought was right.

  2. Max Barkley says:

    Lyzi –

    I respect your conservatism. But we both know that the stipend model is almost meaningless… It is going to be a project of mine in the fall, to work with Lynn/others and format a more legitamite model. I want to complete it before Winter so that the PFC can reference it. Anyways, I understand your concerns regarding the Summer Senate stipend issue, and I would like to address them. Firstly, I have, and will continue to, vividly communicate to Summer Senators not to accept their Summer Stipend if they do not need it. There are about two who have already decided not to take theirs, and I hope more follow on that path. This means a reduction by atleast 15%, plus, of what is on paper. But some Senators are not as well off as others… they have to work, and sometimes miss work because of their Senatorial duties. (hehe duties) They should not be fiscally punished because of their commitment to the UO, instead they should be fiscally COMPENSATED. I do not think it is fair for an individual to PAY out of their own pocket to serve the University if they do not want to, OR CANT,… neither does the body, rightfully so. I have incredible amounts of money troubles because I have to work to help my parents pay my rent/food/and other costs of being a student (liquids/flowers;), while taking between 16-21 credits a term and being a senator. I dont know how I even do it half the time… and yes my grades have suffered, but to me, that is not what college is about. Also, I want Senators to feel good about the work they do… a happy worker is a good worker, and to be honest, if the summer senate serves through their high expectations, the work done can be equated into saving the ASUO thousands. But only time will tell. Though this could be considered impossible to prove, I gaurentee you that because the Summer Senate is now being paid, they will do diligence in comparison to previous non-paid bodies. Capatalism 101. In more harsh/humor terms: Do you think that our body is corrupt? Do you think that Zach Stark-McChillin is evil and ill-hearted, trying to feed himself ASUO funds illegitametly? (PS please exscuse my spelling). Regarding the Dance Oregon issue: is that allocation going to enhance the cultural & physical development of the UO? YES. Is it going to affect a majority of the Students – NO. I am more on your side on this one compared to the stipend issue, but in my heart I amend active individuals taking advantage of the resources the ASUO can provide them – only if they are in conjunction with ASUO’s goals. I LOVE ASUO fund allocations that affect more then small groups of students, like football tickets, library 24 hours, DDS, ETC. But to be honest, there are an incredible amount of students who only use the ASUO for things like football tickets and APS/DDS. Neither being academic. Which is fine but one must respect others efforts to be an active academic participant. Furthermore, I do not appreciate some of the disrespectful comments that you have made seeking to critisize a body that you resigned from. I hope that in the future, instead of trying to publically blister the ASUO Senate, you respectfully express your opinions without being rude. But its cool, I understand, its fun to be rude sometimes and the Commentator seems to be a great vehicle to do so. I actually amend you; I am going to draft an e-mail to the senate adhering to the potential $1200 SR and my hopes of it being further reduced or abolished. I have contemplated doing so right after the $600 SR was approved but your beautiful and semi-malicious words have finilized my contemplations. I will send it to you so that you can potentially criticize or comend me. I love you:)

    -Max Barkley

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