ASUO Executives draft a ballot measure to increase collaborations with EMU Board

ASUO Executive and EMU Board members both admit that there’s a problem in communication between them.

The disconnect showed throughout this year’s budget season, when Executive didn’t feel included enough in the budget decision-making procedure and EMU Board members felt isolated among other finance committees.

EMU Board, comprised of nine students, three ASUO senators and three professional staff members, oversees a budget of almost $6.5 million in the incidental fee budget. The twelve students has the ultimate vote on budget. 

EMU board chair and former senator Miles Sisk credited the problems to the differences in structure of governance and budget.

“People at the ASUO don’t get to work as closely with the programs and students here,” Sisk said. “I don’t think that the ASUO understands the EMU anymore, and I don’t think that the EMU really understands ASUO quite as much as before.”

Follow our coverage on 2016 budget season

As a solution, the board was told that it can move off incidental fee completely and move the budget over to the existing EMU building fee, Sisk said. Students would pay the same amount, Sisk said, but the separation will improve EMU governance and productivity. The administration is in support of the independence, Sisk said.

ASUO Finance Director Shawn Stevenson, in opposition of the proposal, said the separation would affect student autonomy within the EMU Board.

“Lack of communication from the EMU Board seems to stem from overactive professional staff diminishing student control, which is not fixed through independence from the [incidental fee],” Stevenson said via email. “But [with] closer ties to the student body and its governing structure.”

Instead, ASUO Executive is drafting a ballot measure for the upcoming election to increase communication between the two branches, ASUO President Helena Schlegel said. The ballot measure will put an ASUO Executive representative on the EMU Board and require the board chair to report to ASUO senate, Schlegel said.

Several ASUO senators are also concerned with the heavy involvement of the pro staff on the EMU Board at the meeting. Senator Max Burns claimed the EMU professionals, rather than students, created the budget.

At the meeting, the senate body had to spend a significant amount of time asking clarifying questions about how the EMU Board and its budget operate. 

EMU Board member and ASUO senator Robin Lilley expressed frustrations that other senators hadn’t responded to emails concerning the issue prior to the meeting on Feb. 17.

“It’s unprofessional to bring out problems at the meeting …while the input could have been discussed beforehand,” Lilley said at the meeting.

EMU Board member and ASUO senator Shea Northfield was surprised with the conflicts surrounding the EMU Board’s budget at the meeting. She said she has heard no concerns from either Executive or Senate members prior to the meetings.

The separation must go through Schlegel’s approval, otherwise it’s “just a dreamland now,” Sisk said.

Schlegel said she welcomes an open dialogue with the EMU Board but has not heard from the board. She is against the proposal at the moment due to the lack of information. She said she sees no benefits coming out of the seperation.

The current version of this post clarifies that pro staff does not have voting power over the EMU board budget. 

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Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen

Crime and Court senior reporter, specializing in sorting through non-interactive spreadsheet. Formerly reporting on ASUO, Housing and Construction.

Send tips to [email protected] Follow me on Twitter @tranngngn. K thanks bye.