ASUO Senate discusses benchmarks, considers turning organizations like OSPIRG into programs

In an unorthodox ASUO Senate meeting during dead week, senators discussed benchmarks.

These benchmarks act as a recommendation for committee budgets for the next year.

The Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee benchmark created the most controversy during Wednesday night’s meeting, generating discussion over organizations like Lane Transit District and the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group.

LTD had asked for around a 9 percent increase in its contract, which would collect enough funds to pay for every student to ride the bus by charging every student. Both the Executive staff and the ACFC committee thought that LTD was asking for far too much money and would continue to negotiate with the organization for alternative amounts of funding.

OSPIRG was granted zero percent in total funds and was essentially cut by the ACFC and Executive benchmarks.

“Let’s not de-fund an organization that does create a lot of leadership opportunities on this campus” ASUO Senator Ben Bowman said. “Keep in mind that OSPIRG isn’t a new program, they have been here for 41 years and asking that program to start from scratch would be inappropriate.”

The potential compromise would be to move OSPRIG from an ACFC contract to a student program funded under the Programs Finance Committee. Some OSPIRG members were not pleased with this solution because they were unsure whether this move would allow them to act as they had before.

“It would have been nice to be moved to a PFC process to see if we could actually function as a PFC program,” OSPIRG representative Zach Mulholland@@[email protected]@ said. “Based on the rules I’ve seen it doesn’t really look like a viable option.”

Mulholland’s concern stems from information he understands to be true about using incidental fees to pay for an on campus organizer.

“The issue is on campus versus off campus. OSPIRG funds a full time campus organizer, and I’ve heard that you cannot fund a campus organizer through the PFC,” Bowman said.

Senator Lindy Mabuya felt they would be able to find a solution.

“If they want professional staff on campus, we can make that happen,” Mabuya said. “I truly believe that this contract can become a program. I am sick of seeing this group get (either) zero funding or get everything they want”

By the end of the meeting the ACFC approved a .84 percent increase, which would leave OSPIRG at zero percent funding through ACFC; however, the organization was recommended to submit a budget to PFC and to begin planning to make a move.

ASUO President Laura Hinman approved this recommendation.

“Please understand that I believe full heartily in some of the things that this organization does, and as I said on the record I will veto a budget that does not include OSPIRG,” Hinman said.

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