The funds that support Portland State’s Campus Public Safety Office are drawn from a variety of sources, including student fees.
The funds that support Portland State’s Campus Public Safety Office are drawn from a variety of sources, including student fees. In funding Smith Memorial Student Union, which in turn funds CPSO, the Student Fee Committee [SFC] essentially provides for 16 percent of the department’s budget. The Senate Finance Committee is contesting this figure, arguing that student fees should not entirely cover security at a building that is used by both the university and its students.
As CPSO works with the SFC to change the process of its budget review, the Senate Finance Committee is presenting a resolution to the Senate that challenges the allocation of student fees in the CPSO budget.
Every year, SMSU submits a CPSO budget to the SFC. With this year’s review process fast approaching—budget input begins on Nov. 22—members of CPSO and the SFC are talking about handing the task of generating the CPSO budget to CPSO itself.
Traditionally, CPSO bills SMSU for its services; in turn, SMSU presents a CPSO budget to the SFC. Krystine McCants, the SFC chair, said that the result of the system change would be that the SFC, not the billed party, would be responsible for justifying the CPSO budget.
Mark Russell, the head of SMSU, supports the change.
“I think it’s appropriate…[the SFC] can better understand the budget,” Russell said. “I can’t defend and understand the amounts as well as they can.”
CPSO is paid for by a combination of student fees and money from the Education and General Fund, which is a mix of tuition dollars and state support. Student fees are part of the equation because CPSO provides services to SMSU.
However, Senate Finance Committee Chair Adam Rahmlow argues that student fees should not fund 16 percent of the police presence at SMSU because university offices are spread throughout the building. In addition, student groups host only 35 percent of events that take place at SMSU.
Rahmlow is writing a resolution that he’ll present to the Student Senate this evening. If the Senate votes in favor of his draft, he’ll take it to the SFC.
“It’s disturbing that students pay the whole Smith Union [CPSO] budget, when student use of the building is only 35 percent, and Smith is only one of more than 55 buildings on campus,” Rahmlow said. “It gives the university back-door access to student fee money, in my opinion.” Primarily, his resolution will dispute the fact that SMSU accounts for 16 percent of the university’s total CPSO budget.
CPSO Director Michael Soto said that students rightly pay for security at SMSU because “they have a controlling interest there.”
“That’s why students are my clients,” Soto said.
The funding of campus safety is as complicated at other Oregon public campuses as it is at PSU. At Portland’s community colleges, for example, security officers patrol campuses and the police are called when legal involvement is required. If that is the case, the Portland Police Bureau sends the colleges a bill. However, of the seven campuses that comprise the Oregon University System, PSU is the only institution that funds its campus safety office in part with student fees.
“[Student fee committees] are scrambling as it is to pay for clubs and groups,” said Tim Wilson, the SFC adviser at Eastern Oregon University. McCants will be expecting ASPSU to include a summary of campus security funding at other Oregon universities in their resolution.
“We’re looking for best practices,” McCants said. She also mentioned the importance of looking at the funding of campus safety across the spectrum of the “Urban Thirteen,” a list of research-sharing universities in major cities that includes PSU. As of press time, the three universities reached—Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Temple University—confirmed that student fees are not used in the funding of campus safety. ?