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On The Agenda – Everything: ASUO Senate, 16 February 2011

Kate Bidwell addresses a question from Sen. Tom Schally (foreground) during her confirmation hearing Wednesday. Bidwell was confirmed to Senate Seat 12 (AAA, Psychology, Music) with no nay votes. Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll


EUGENE – Nothing loomed larger over the ASUO Student Senate during its meeting Wednesday evening than the sheer size of the agenda. By the time the meeting had adjourned, senators had filled all its vacancies, dealt with five special requests, publically discussed public records handling and the dwindling surplus, approved the Department Finance Committee’s budget for next year, and gave the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee more money to fund the Lane Transit District contract.

The meeting commenced with UO Public Records Officer Liz Denecke discussing public records requests and how they affected student government. Denecke explained that, while ASUO records (including emails and other correspondence sent between senators) were considered public records, many of student government’s records were educational records, and thus required a significant amount of sanitization before they could be released in order to comply with federal statutes regarding student records confidentiality. Denecke advised senators to utilize their university email accounts to conduct business regarding the ASUO.

The Senate then moved on to discuss recent expenditures from surplus and their effects on the availability of funds for student groups later in the year. Sen. Evan Thomas expressed dissatisfaction with what he described as excessive allocations over the last few weeks, saying, “I think we have to be more frugal with our money.”

Surplus, the fund consisting of money that programs requested but did not spend during the previous academic year, is the Senate’s main tool for financing the special requests that are brought before it during the year. Many senators were concerned that current surplus levels would leave the body unable to fund large requests from organizations such as sports clubs, which regularly request surplus funds to finance their participation in tournaments and other competitions.

Sen. Brianna Woodside-Gomez, however, did not want these concerns to prevent the Senate from funding other requests that were deserving of student money. “Why is it fair to them that we were fiscally irresponsible before?” Woodside-Gomez said. After some discussion of possible alternatives to the current funding model used for Club Sports, a definitive conclusion was not reached.

The Senate followed the discussion with six special requests. While the Saudi Student Association did not attend to present their request, the Appropriate Dispute Resolution Board was granted a new line item in their budget to fund their attendance of a regional competition and the Multicultural Center, People of the Pacific, and Dance Oregon received a combined total of $7,740 in surplus funds. A request from the American Marketing Association was tabled for next week due to membership requirement concerns.

Transitioning to procedural matters, the Senate then voted on final allocation of $65,000 it had previously earmarked from Over-Realized Funds to fund a concert being planned by the Jewish Student Union for later this year, followed by sending funds received through the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit to ACFC to help defray the costs of the ASUO’s contract with LTD. The Senate, with little debate, also approved DFC’s budget for next academic year. DFC, the first of the major program budgets to be approved, will distribute $971,528 to 11 campus departments which are fully or partially funded by student fees. This figure represents a 2.6 percent decrease from this year’s funding level, and was approved by a vote of 16 to zero.

Finally, the Senate fully filled its own ranks for only the second time this year with the confirmations of Kate Bidwell and Molly Bacon to Seats 12 (AAA) and 13 (Business), respectively. Bidwell, a graduate student in architecture, was very well received by the senators, who complimented her on her initiative in contacting senators prior to her hearing. “I think you would bring a lot to our Senate and our discussions,” said Rep. Christian Erichsen. Bidwell was confirmed by a vote of 15 to zero, with one abstention.

Bacon, on the other hand, did not have as smooth a hearing. Questions were raised as to her professionalism and qualifications for the position. “I think you need some training in how to conduct yourself in a professional environment,” said Sen. Kaitlyn Lange. Lange continued to say that “I think some business students might be embarrassed.”

The concerns didn’t stop there. “I disagree with your definition of leadership… It just seems a lot about you and how you want to be a leader,” Woodside-Gomez said. Sen. Blake Sedgley also questioned whether, as a pre-business student, Bacon could effectively represent students who were already enrolled in the business school. Nevertheless, by a vote of nine to seven with one abstention, Bacon was confirmed.

After a brief discussion of meeting duration and effectiveness, concluded by Sen. Grace Hochstatter asking senators to “Please think of how you yourself can be more efficient,” the meeting was adjourned.

Lyzi Diamond contributed reporting to this article.

Stats and Opinion after the jump.

Molly Bacon addresses questions from Senators during her confirmation hearing Wednesday night. Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll


Meeting Duration: 295 Minutes (One recess)

Money Allocated from Surplus: $7,740 (plus $65,000 from Over-Realized)

Not Present: Dos Santos, Hinman

Resignation Count: 7


So much to say.

The matter of public records is much better handled by Lyzi Diamond in her piece on the subject, so I will leave that to her.

Unfortunately the EMU Board, which finances Club Sports, has already finalized its budget for next year, because I think the current model of funding Club Sports participation in tournament play does need to be addressed. Every time a sports club gets into a big competition, their moment of triumph is tinged with the thought of “how are we going to finance this?” There has to be some reasonable way to determine an amount that is a reasonable prediction of what Club Sports expects to spend (let’s say we take the average from the last five years and add a little room to grow) and allocate that through the EMU Board’s regular budget into a fund which all sports clubs can access, using surplus as a backup if that fund is depleted. Though this would presumably require a significant rewrite to the GTN, I really do think that something different needs to be done.

Senate does spend a lot of money. And while, in recent weeks, senators have been hammering away at groups requesting money, especially those requesting it for conferences, I think more can be done. Woodside-Gomez in correct in saying that it would be wrong to prejudice groups now due to previous funding decisions, so I would suggest tat the Senate should continue, enhance, and perhaps even institutionalize its budding preference for groups that fundraise significant portions of their events budgets and that open participation to all students.

The AMA’s request yesterday evening was unpalatable in light of the $80 membership fee it charges students. Whether that had to do with the national organization wanting high membership dues or the club wanting to pad its own budget (or worse, the club wanting to keep the “riff-raff” out) but at any rate, its unethical.

Though the Constitutional Court has yet to discuss whether graduate students can fill non-graduate seats, a question that I find unlikely to come before them, the precedent has now been set. And that is fine by me. With a strong Executive such as this one, I often worry about appointments being overly loyal to the Executive’s political agenda, but this did not seem to be the case with Bidwell, who’s first vote as a Senator was to not confirm Bacon.

I’m still not sure what to make of Bacon. I did not think she performed well before the Senate, but there’s always the chance that it was nothing more than nerves. Time will tell, I suppose.

This was one hell of a meeting. Next week looks no less intense. Rest up.

  1. Janet Brooks says:

    That isn’t what I told you, and it isn’t 6.15%.

  2. Lyzi Diamond says:

    They received growth up through the 6.15 percent, which is what you told me.

  3. Janet Brooks says:

    Also, the cultural forum did not receive growth. That information is incorrect. You can find out more at senate.

  4. Janet Brooks says:

    Club sports has a line item for their competitions. They already budget for this.

  5. zstarmac says:

    You can find the second half of last year’s special requests here:

  6. Lange says:

    Lyzi: you have inaccurate information, you should get better sources before reporting on an issue you don’t know the full story on. Love you but yeah not good.

  7. Lyzi Diamond says:

    Franklin: Talk to Lynn about IFAMs.

  8. FTB says:

    It would seem all special request forms would have to be held somewhere in the office along with a record of the history of the surplus’ allocations. I suppose I’ll just have to go request access, but it shouldn’t be THAT difficult, right?

  9. Joe Crawford says:

    It seems the various requests from clubs affiliated with Club Sports could be pretty easily handled by earmarking a portion of the surplus in anticipation of those requests. Senators last night expressed concern at this because of the uncertain nature of club qualification for national or regional competitions, however there is a simple accounting solution to this issue. Since the ASUO, it would seem, wants to make as much money available for special requests as possible, it is necessary to make the earmark I am proposing here as small as possible. Also, as Lyzi said, the earmark needs to be made from the surplus and not in the Club Sports contract so that Club Sports can continue pursuing their administrative/organizational growth goals independently of club success. The simplest solution, that may well need some alterations, would be to index the ear-mark for each year to the past 10 years and set aside the lowest number in the bunch in the earmark. Any money that clubs need above these monies would then have to be petitioned for as it is now. This would allow club sports to pursue their organizational goals while guaranteeing the individual teams support in their success and expediting the budgeting process for the ASUO senate. I think this solution works for all parties concerned and takes little effort to institute. This model could also be used for other annual, but un-predictably large special surplus requests.

  10. Lyzi Diamond says:

    Disclaimer: This comment is boring if you don’t care about the ASUO.

    Something Janet should have mentioned, but didn’t: last year, I spoke to former Club Sports Director Sandy Vaughn about tournament funding and trying to secure money for those students. I suggested adding that money to their budget as a fund that all clubs could pull from if they qualified for tournaments. She expressed that Club Sports was pursuing a new student staff position, and all budget growth efforts would go towards that. As far as I know, that position still has not been funded, and the only group this year that received any sort of growth from the EMU Board was the Cultural Forum.

    There has been a serious problem in the board this year regarding both (a) communication between board leadership and board members and (b) communication between board members and their tags. In previous years, EMU programs presented only current service level increases during initial budget hearings, and the group held a growth hearing at the end for whatever was left over. (In my opinion, all Major Program Budgets should do things like that, but whatever.)

    This year, when the EMU Board was calculating the current service level for all programs, it came out to 6.15 percent growth over last year’s budget. In this interest, they decided to not allocate growth to any program, and thus not have a growth hearing. This was not explicitly communicated to many programs, including KWVA, at whose budget hearing I was in attendance.

    When hearings came around, however, groups actually asked for less than what would constitute 6.15 percent growth. This left a little room for growth in the budget, which was allocated to the Cultural Forum during its initial hearing — essentially allocating growth prior to initial hearings of other groups, which was unprecedented.

    Student groups were misinformed as to how the process was going to go, as evidenced by KWVA General Manager Charlotte Nisser’s surprise when asked why she didn’t include growth in her initial budget request. I can only imagine the reason she thought she was going to have the opportunity for a growth hearing was because her tag told her so.

    Going back to Club Sports, perhaps a separate fund could be established within the CS budget, but they want their staff position more. And there are legitimate concerns about the way CS approaches Senate for money: namely, paying for trips out of pocket and expecting to be reimbursed fully (this adds a guilt factor that almost always tips the Senate scales in favor of surplus allocations). But in many ways, CS is a model program (series of programs) that has teams competing on behalf of the University of Oregon and should be allowed money if they are talented enough to make a national tournament.

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