ASPSU budget: What’s in a name?

The student senate voted down the Harper/Klute 2005-06 budget proposal for ASPSU yesterday afternoon, citing concerns with positions being redefined.

The budget raised a few major issues among senators. The equal rights advocate position would be changed to cover additional groups of under-represented students and would be renamed "non-traditional student advocate." The duties of Oregon Student Association’s campus organizer, including training interns in grassroots organizing, would be transferred to a SALP advisor, and the new legislative affairs director would replace both the state and federal affairs directors.

The senate rejected the budget with recommendations to find a more appropriate title for the position, currently known as equal rights advocate, and to keep the campus organizer hired through OSA.

According to Adas Lis, the senate pro tempore, these proposed changes raised eyebrows, leading to Monday’s special session meeting.

The transformation of equal rights advocate into non-traditional student advocate hit home for Mary Fletcher, the latest equal rights advocate (She served as equal rights advocate until resigning in a meeting yesterday morning). Though the two-year-old position was created to lobby for queer issues, last year’s ASPSU president Amara Marino broadened the focus of the position to advocate for students with disabilities as well. Fletcher wanted to see the position further broadened, but objected to the label, saying underrepresented groups didn’t necessarily fit in the non-traditional category.

Morgan Stimson, co-coordinator for Queers & Allies, agreed. "Personally, I don’t like the new name because not all queer students are non-traditional students," he said.

"The job name for this is totally up for recommendation," Harper said.

"OK, the title sucks," ASPSU Vice President Ryan Klute said, adding that they had only renamed the position to be clear about the changes in duties. "We really wanted to be symbolic about the change."

Both Klute and Harper welcomed suggestions of a more appropriate name.

Stimson is currently working on establishing the Queer Resource Center, which is expected to absorb advocacy for queer students when it launches next summer.

"ASPSU is not going to leave us high and dry. We’ll have the equal rights advocate until April. We’ll have the new position, whatever it’s called, under the new administration," he said. "And whether it’s the Queers & Allies coordinator, or the QRC coordinator, someone will always be there to advocate for queer students."

Replacing the OSA campus organizer with an advisor through SALP was another reason for rejecting the budget. Sen. Lisa Ward argued that the campus organizer, who trains interns in grassroots campaign management, is more effective if not tied to the PSU administration.

Harper pointed out that an advisor would be paid out of student fee money, not employed by the administration. She will get a written job description before re-pitching the idea to senators, though, to avoid confusion about the position.

"It will be inherently different from any other advisor," Harper said. "If they aren’t willing to put that on paper, I will absolutely not do that."

Harper will present a new budget to the senate at their Friday meeting. Friday is the deadline for approving the budget.