Senate momentum

At Tuesday’s Senate meeting, the Student Senate made headway on key issues that have been pending for several weeks, including the review of the Student Fee Committee’s budget allocation and the approval of ASPSU constitutional amendments.

At Tuesday’s Senate meeting, the Student Senate made headway on key issues that have been pending for several weeks, including the review of the Student Fee Committee’s budget allocation and the approval of ASPSU constitutional amendments.

Review of SFC budget:

The Senate Finance Committee proposed several recommendations to be submitted to the Student Fee Community in regards to the recent budget allocations. The revisions to the budget were considered after Jeremy Hardy, KPSU’s station manager, Portland State’s debate team, and members of Las Mujeres, gave testimony about cuts to their budgets on March 16.
The approved recommendations are as follows:
-$26,000 increase to the debate team’s budget
-$28,000 increase to KPSU’s budget
-$12,529 increase to Las Mujeres’ budget
-$5,400 increase to the Jim Sells Childcare Assistance Program

In addition, the Senate Finance Committee requested that the SFC reexamine the budgets of the Muslim Student Association, the Organization Budget Council, Greek Life, the Multicultural Center and the Student Veteran Association.

After the SFC looks at the Senate’s recommendations, the changes made to the budget will once again return to the Senate for review before the final approval process moves forward.

Constitutional amendments:

During the last week of winter term, the Judicial Board submitted several constitutional amendments that had to be approved by the Senate before becoming official.

“There was a lot of discussion throughout the year between the members of the Judicial Board and other members of ASPSU about what revisions should be made,” said Judicial Board Chair Brad Vehafric in an e-mail.

“The resulting changes were made to simplify and clarify potentially ambiguous issues rather than make any lasting or radical changes that could otherwise be made by a given administration.”

The first major revision passed was a unified eligibility guideline to hold an ASPSU office, rather than a guideline that is position-specific.

“[The J-board] decided that the best for all involved is that [ASPSU has] a one-size-fits-all eligibility requirement,” said Vehafric. “Why would we want different standards for different positions?”

The amendment requires that all undergraduate and graduate members maintain a minimum 2.00 GPA and 3.00 GPA per term, respectively. In addition, graduate members must complete five credits per term and undergraduate members must complete six credits per term.

Previously, members of the SFC had separate academic requirements dictated under the Oregon University System rules. The revision requires all ASPSU members also meet both the OUS and the constitution’s requirements.

Other amendments that the Senate approved were regarding ASPSU stipends, which are to be regulated by Oregon Revised Statutes rather than university policies. In addition, a new amendment dictates that no ASPSU member may simultaneously hold more than one position in ASPSU governing bodies, including the executive staff, the J-board, the SFC, the Student Senate and the Elections Board, unless otherwise stated in the constitution.

As of Tuesday, the ASPSU president will also be required to publish quarterly compilations of Student Senate resolutions, J-board rulings, SFC rules and procedures, and all other rules, policies and procedures of ASPSU affecting the student body. The constitution had previously required only one annual report.

 “Having a quarterly [publication] would certainly help with institutional memory and archives,” Vehafric said.

According to the official summary of the revisions, the change will also made to help improve transparency and accountability of ASPSU.

The president’s length of office was also clarified at the meeting. According to the constitution, the president may seek election and hold office for two 12-month terms. However, the terms do not have to be consecutive.

The Student Senate did not approve one of the more controversial amendments, which relates to the system of checks and balances within ASPSU. The amendment proposed that the decisions made by the J-board could be overturned by not only a three-fourths majority vote in the Student Senate, as previously defined by the constitution, but would also require approval by the president.

“That takes away a balance and puts it right into the executive office,” said Senator Patricia Binder.

Daniel Lyons, president pro-tempore, recommended the revision be struck down. However, in the future, he proposed the J-board reword the amendment so that it applies only towards matters that directly affect the Senate.

Lastly, the Senate approved an additional section to article VII of the constitution addressing allegations of ethical misconduct and conflicts of interest.