SFC member says chair asked him to skip meeting

A Student Fee Committee member says the committee’s chair, Amanda Newberg, told him to skip a meeting during which the committee made a decision to initially deny the Oregon Student Association access to more than $100,000 for next year.

A Student Fee Committee member says the committee’s chair, Amanda Newberg, told him to skip a meeting during which the committee made a decision to initially deny the Oregon Student Association access to more than $100,000 for next year.

Hyung Cho said that Newberg and SFC Vice-Chair Karin Zimmer told him he should not come to the Jan. 17 deliberation, without a clear reason why. At the meeting, the SFC decided they would give OSA no student fees next year unless OSA agreed to a PSU student government-created proposal that would alter the internal voting structure of the organization. OSA will be able to appeal the decision at the SFC appeal hearing on Feb. 19.

Based on what Cho alleges Newberg and Zimmer told him, he did not attend the meeting. The decision to initially zero-fund OSA was made after short discussion by a unanimous 7-0-0 vote among the members who attended the meeting.

Cho, who was appointed to his position earlier this month, said he found out how important the meeting was after the fact, when he read about it the next day in the Vanguard [“OSA dealt ultimatum: vote yes or lose funds,” Jan. 18]. He said he would have spoken out against the proposal if he had been at the meeting.

“I never got that chance,” Cho said.

Newberg denies having asked Cho to skip the Jan. 17 initial deliberation.

Cho missed the Jan. 15 initial hearing for OSA, where the SFC was able to ask questions and hear answers about the value of OSA. Newberg said that she and Zimmer approached Cho about having missed the hearing, and told him he could not vote at the Thursday deliberation because he had missed the hearing.

Earlier in the year, Newberg said, the committee decided that any member who misses a group’s hearing must abstain from voting on the group’s subsequent deliberation. The SFC guidelines do not prohibit voting on deliberations if a committee member missed the hearing.

“It wasn’t told to him that he couldn’t come, or he shouldn’t come,” she said.

The SFC is responsible for allocating more than $12 million in student fees to over 150 student groups on campus this year, including the Vanguard and athletics. During winter term, the committee holds four meetings for each on-campus group that wants a part of the $12 million pie: initial hearings, initial deliberations, appeals and final deliberations.

If a group is zero-funded during the initial deliberation, such as OSA, they can appeal the zero funding, giving reasons why they should receive student fee money. The SFC then decides whether to grant the appeal during the final deliberation.

OSA, a lobbyist group for students funded entirely by student fees from nine institutions of higher education in Oregon, is housed under the PSU student government. The SFC funds OSA’s budget through student government each year.

Newberg told the Vanguard Monday that when she spoke to Cho on Sunday, he admitted that she never told him to skip the deliberation, only that he was not required to attend.

On Monday, Cho denied saying that to Newberg. He said he cannot be sure what Newberg meant when she asked him to skip the meeting, but he said he is positive that she told him to not go.

In his time as a member of the SFC, Cho said he has felt the eight-member SFC has been represented by only one voice. After his conversation with Newberg on Sunday, he said his feelings are reaffirmed.

“Now that I’ve talked to her I feel it even more,” Cho said.

“I can’t imagine that, that is what she told him to do,” said Natalee Webb, the adviser to SFC, about Newberg’s alleged request.

As far as an SFC chair asking one of their members to not attend a meeting, Webb said she would advise them to follow the SFC guidelines. She added: “I’m not going to speak for what the SFC chair should or shouldn’t do.”

Cho said he is concerned over what he sees as a lack of neutrality of the SFC and of Webb, whose salary he noted is set by the committee. Currently, there are no real checks and balances within the SFC, he said, and many decisions are made unanimously and without relative opposition.

If a non-majority opinion is brought up in the SFC it often gets shot down, Cho said. “The SFC ultimately is one voice.”

According to SFC initial deliberation minutes from meetings up to Jan. 24, the SFC made 230 different motions: 103 of the motions were voted on unanimously, 58 had two or more dissenting votes, 49 had one dissenting vote and 20 were unanimous with one or more abstentions.

SFC member Karla Hernandez said she doesn’t think the committee is being pressured to vote one way or another. She said the SFC process is going smoothly and operating as it should.

The request from Newberg and Zimmer to not attend the meeting may have something to do with his possible dissension from the majority OSA vote, Cho said, but added that there is no way to know for sure.

He said he has been pleased with the hard work and strong leadership in student government this year. The problem is, however, the systems under which student government must operate.

“I know the leadership is not to blame,” he said. “It’s the system that needs to be looked at.”