A year in review: ASUO Senate wrap-up

The 2015-2016 legislative session wrapped up for the ASUO Senate on May 27. Though every senate goes through the same list of duties with every academic year, each group accomplishes unique milestones in its time. Here’s a look at some of the memorable moments from this year’s senate.

A shifting Senate body: Senate began the year with several resignations, and by week four of fall term, only 15 senators remained. Later in the term, the ASUO executive presented several candidates for confirmation, including Aven-itza De Primavera, Lizeth Marin and Quang Truong. Hao Tan was confirmed as freshman rep, but transitioned to Senate Seat 16 after Charlie Pontrelli resigned. Spring term saw the resignations of senators Megan Williams and Sami Tayeh.

Resolutions: The 2014-2015 senate passed several resolutions. In October, it passed a resolution presented by members of the LGBTESSP, Theta Pi Sigma and the ASUO Executive to introduce more gender-inclusive bathrooms in campus buildings. This resolution was part of a larger effort in the work to establish more gender-inclusive bathrooms, which continues. OSPIRG brought forth a resolution that also passed, which asserted dissent against the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United vs. FEC case of 2010. In January, Senate also passed a controversial resolution that called for a halt in the expansion of Fraternity and Sorority Life if a spring campus climate survey found that there are still disproportionately high risks and occurrences to campus sexual assault. Senator Samantha Cohen also helped sponsor a resolution that condemned the counseling records release of an alleged sexual assault survivor to university administration.

The 2015-2016 budget: Every senate passes the budget for the next school year, based on the projected amount of Incidental Fee money that will be available to the ASUO, and every year that comes with some predictable skirmishes. This year, Senate struggled in particular with the contracts with the Lane Transit District, which provides student access to the bus system, and the Athletics Department, which establishes the amount of student tickets that go into the lottery system for football and mens basketball games. At the final budget meeting on Feb. 21, senators debated about these contracts for several hours. Eventually, Senate decided to diminish the increase to the LTD budget and reroute some of those funds to programs like SafeRide and Designated Driver Shuttle, and it passed a zero percent increase to the athletics budget. The Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee has continued to meet with athletics to figure out the best option to keep student tickets, as the Athletics Department had said it would cut student tickets from the lottery system if it did not receive at least a three percent increase.

Over-realized: There was an unexpected surplus of money available to Senate this year, called the over-realized fund, due to a higher population of I-fee paying students than was projected by the registrar. Senate allocated $264,760 to various projects proposed by different student groups. Among these were $30,000 to the UO Rowing Club for new machines; $40,000 for solar panels to be installed on the roof of the new EMU; and $131,200 to be put towards a trans awareness conference next May.

The 2015-2016 senate took over at the last meeting of the year on May 28. Several senators will preside over the summer, but the the true tests of the new legislative body will come fall. Tor learn more about the ASUO, visit its website.

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Kaylee Tornay

Kaylee Tornay

Kaylee is the Emerald's 2015-2016 Hiring and Training Director. Formerly an ASUO reporter for the News Desk and writer for the Arts and Culture Desk, Kaylee has also interned for the Medford Mail Tribune and freelanced for the Bend Bulletin.
Ask her to discuss local journalism or for tips on throwing shade at people who take up too much room on the sidewalk.