SFC should put personal differences aside

On Oct. 18 Student Fee Committee member Adas Lis asked the student government Constitutional and Judicial Review Board to determine whether fee committee head Tina Cooper has failed to fulfill her duties as chairperson.


The charge is a serious one. If Cooper is found to be in “non-fulfillment of duties” when the judicial board meets next Tuesday to decide the case, the board could declare her actions a notice of resignation from office, effectively removing her as chairperson.


Lis’ accusations are at best flimsy grounds for Cooper’s removal from office. His firmest charge was that Cooper did not fulfill her job’s requirement to report to the Student Senate during the first three weeks of fall term.


Cooper finally reported to the Student Senate on Wednesday, midway through the fourth week of the term. Should she have reported earlier? Probably. The Student Fee Committee chair job description requires the chair to report to the senate, but it does not specify how often they should do so.


However, the squabble between the two committee members revealed more troubling underlying problems.


Lis and Cooper’s testimonies revealed several professional frustrations between the two. Lis complained that Cooper has failed to answer questions he posed to her via e-mail. Cooper responded that she has felt “negativity” from Lis when working with him.

It is unfortunate that the only avenue Lis could find to express concern over the situation was to tie up student government time and resources on what amounts to the inability of two committee members to get along.


Cooper, however, as committee chair should display leadership and be proactive about resolving conflicts before they get to the point that members feel the need to publicly lash out.


The eight-member Student Fee Committee is charged with the allocation of over $8 million in student incidental fees to Portland State’s student groups, including the Vanguard and athletics programs, giving the committee the ability to impact the student experience at PSU more than virtually any other body of student governance on campus.


If past years are any indication, the budgeting process can be a confusing and sometimes frustrating experience.


Already, we see evidence that this year may be no different. The fee committee rollover and overage hearings, where student groups can settle their debts with the committee or hang onto unspent funds from last year, were postponed this week due to a failure to publicly post the meeting agenda. The hearings are now planned for Nov. 7 and 8, but little notice was sent to student groups explaining the situation.


It is crucial that committee members put aside petty infighting and finger pointing and ensure that they focus their efforts on demystifying the budget process for the student groups who depend so much on the funds they receive.


Personal disagreements and personality conflicts are part of public life. We hope that Cooper, Lis and other members can put their differences aside and get back to what they were elected to do: empower the student groups of PSU.