Committee may examine Soto proposal

ASPSU’s controversial OSA proposal that would alter the internal structure of the student-interest lobbying group may get a closer look if the organization approves a committee to discuss its merits Friday.

ASPSU’s controversial OSA proposal that would alter the internal structure of the student-interest lobbying group may get a closer look if the organization approves a committee to discuss its merits Friday.

Rudy Soto, ASPSU president, said ASPSU will ask the Oregon Student Association at its meeting this Friday to create an eight-member committee to discuss the proposal.

“We want this committee to take a serious look at the proposal, and we don’t want members who would stall the proposal,” Soto said, who wrote the proposal along with his senior policy adviser Ryan Klute.

Soto and Klute submitted the proposal to the Oregon Student Association, a statewide student-interest lobbying organization, in January. The proposal would create a new board, called the General Assembly, which would operate alongside OSA’s current Board of Directors. Under the proposal, the General Assembly would recommend lobbying issues to the Board of Directors, have the power to set membership dues that all OSA schools pay, and elect officers to the OSA Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors currently carries all of these responsibilities. Under the proposal, the power would shift to the General Assembly.

Some OSA board members and students statewide have complained that the proposal would give more voting power to larger universities like PSU and less to smaller schools. The Board of Directors is made up of two members from each school, but the General Assembly would include one voting member per every 2,500 full-time students at a university. PSU, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University would have five, six, and seven votes, respectively. The six other OSA schools would have a single vote on the new assembly.

OSA lobbies for student issues every other year to the Oregon legislature. It was heralded in 2007 for helping bringing hundreds of millions of dollars more in higher education funding to Oregon. Nine schools, including PSU, community colleges and rural colleges pay dues to OSA.

Who would serve on the new committee?

Klute, who is also OSA board of director’s vice chair, said the recommended eight-member committee that would examine ASPSU’s proposal would include two members from the Board of Directors and two members from OSA’s two-affiliate boards, the Oregon Student Equal Rights Alliance and the Oregon Students of Color Coalition.

Another requirement, Soto said, would be that the committee be comprised of at least one member from a large Oregon university, one from a regional university and one from a community college. He said this requirement would ensure a diverse look at the General Assembly proposal.

Klute said no specific students have been suggested for the recommended committee, but he hopes that members would be appointed as soon as possible if OSA approves the recommendation. He said both he and Soto would like to serve on the new committee.

Emily McClain, OSA board chair and UO student body president, said the committee may be approved at Friday’s meeting. If a decision is not reached, she said the issue would be revisited at a meeting in April.

McClain, who has previously spoken out against the proposal, said the decision to create the General Assembly is up to the current OSA Board of Directors.

The next OSA meeting will be held on the Oregon Health and Sciences University campus, located at 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road. It will take place at 4 p.m. this Friday, in the Old Library Auditorium building.

What the ASPSU proposal means for OSA

Klute said that the General Assembly, according to his and Soto’s proposal, would work alongside the OSA Board of Directors to determine which issues are selected for OSA research during a board member’s retreat in August.

Ten issues are selected during the retreat and put on a student survey. The surveys are used to narrow the list to five issues, and three issues are then set on the OSA research agenda for the next year.

The issue selection process takes place during non-legislative years–years when Oregon Legislature does not meet–so that OSA can research and prepare what issues to discuss with Legislature when it does meet. Under the ASPSU proposal, the General Assembly would pick 10 issues, and the OSA board would still narrow the list to five and eventually three, as it has in the past.