2015-2016 ASUO Senators take office
As of this week, 17 senator-elects will enter office as the new ASUO senators for the 2015-2016 school year. These new senators will be responsible for allocating millions of student incidental-fee dollars, a fee paid for by every student at the University of Oregon through their tuition, for programs, departments, the EMU and other services.
For the past several weeks, senator-elects sat in on senate meetings in order to better understand senate proceedings. Even as senator-elects — members with no voting power — many were already voicing their opinions on big issues presented at senate meetings.
Two weeks ago, when the previous senate decided whether it would be able to draft a resolution before the summer in response to a letter criticizing a Constitution Court decision regarding gender-inclusive bathrooms, new senator Zach Lusby spoke out. Lusby reminded senate that it was able to add eight articles to amend the Fraternity and Sorority Life Resolution within a week.
“If there are students motivated at this time, then I don’t think that there is any reason to hold it back,” Lusby said.
Last week senate faced a $260,000 over-realized budget and recommendations totaling more than $1 million dollars. Then senator-elect Max Burns did not refrain from questioning groups requesting large sums.
Organizers requested of the first national college transgender conference in the United States requested funds to bring renowned “Orange is the New Black” actress, Laverne Cox, to campus as the keynote speaker.
In an attempt to reduce the $50,000 cost of bringing Cox to campus Burns advised the group to reach out to Cox personally to come to campus for less since the conference would be a good step for advocacy.
“I think that you do not give yourself enough credit for the amount of leverage you would potentially have in this situation,” Burns said. “What you are trying to do is tremendous, courageous, and great.”
“I feel comfortable asking the hard questions when it comes to it,” Burns told the Emerald in an email. “Those hard decisions can only be made if we have the most information we can possibly get.”
Scenarios like those dealing with tight over-realized budgets may become more commonplace for the new senators.
Next school year, due to the fact that this year’s programs operated on a 3.5 percent cap, it is commonly believed within the ASUO that there is not going to be as much of a surplus because programs didn’t grow as much this year. The official number of how much is in surplus is expected to be revealed by the end of summer when all programs return their funds.
“Senate is going to be a lot more fiscally conservative just out of necessity next year,” said new senator Rentschler. “And communicating to groups that it is not their fault that we are voting down their requests and its not their fault that we are paring back on what they are asking for is going to be really hard.”
You can find a list on all the current ASUO Senators on the ASUO website.
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