As student government elections were drawing to a close last week, the Associated Students of Portland State University stayed focused on business in recent meetings. They chose new members for the judicial review board, considered student fee committee bylaws and weighed student leadership awards.
As student government elections were drawing to a close last week, the Associated Students of Portland State University stayed focused on business in recent meetings.
They chose new members for the judicial review board, considered student fee committee bylaws and weighed student leadership awards.
At a Wednesday senate meeting, SFC Chair Nick Rowe outlined several proposed changes to SFC bylaws.
One of the major changes is the creation of a committee to increase accountability in the distribution of the Educational Student Leadership Awards given to some students “in recognition of their leadership service to the university.” These awards are distributed much like scholarships, and the students who receive them—such as ASPSU members—are not eligible for salaries or hourly pay.
The main goal of this committee, Rowe said, is to increase accountability.
“We want to make sure student leadership awards are given to the appropriate people,” Rowe said in the meeting.
Currently, ELSA dollar amounts are set in a tier system. The proposed dean of student life ELSA committee would decide which tier a certain job belongs in. The SFC would retain control over how many people can have that job and how much the award for that job is.
The proposed bylaw changes also address the SFC fund balance. This specific fund can function as an emergency reserve. If, while creating a budget, the SFC finds it would have to make such drastic cuts to student groups’ budgets that the groups would lose the ability to perform essential services, the SFC could use some of the money in this fund to help ease the financial stress. Rather than having to take a large budget cut in one year, money from the fund would be used to slowly decrease the budget of a program over the course of a few years.
The SFC’s goal is to constantly have 10 percent of the total fees collected in the fund. For example, if $14 million in fees were collected, the fund should have a balance of $1.4 million. If the balance of the fund drops below 5 percent of the total fees, the SFC is required to reallocate money into the fund. If the balance of the fund exceeds 15 percent of the total fees, the SFC must come up with a five-year plan to redistribute the excess funds.
The senate also confirmed the nomination of a new JRB member, Shane O’Brien, who has been a longtime intern for ASPSU.
O’Brien, a senior in political science, began his role as a JRB member the next day; he and the rest of the JRB voted unanimously for Emily Kunkel as successor to former Chief Justice Aubrey Hoffman, who left the JRB as planned when her term expired on April 30.
At the JRB’s Thursday meeting, the board spent a large portion of their time hearing an attention request brought by student Cody Bakken. Bakken, a postbaccalaureate student in psychology, asked the JRB to point out what he called a “logical fallacy in the current constitution regarding the process and existence of the judicial board.”
Bakken saw conflicts in the language of the constitution regarding whether the judicial board is separate from the senate or the senate has power over the judicial board. His concern, Bakken said, is that the senate could bully the judicial board by overturning the judicial board’s rulings.
The members of the JRB agreed that the area required clarification. “We need to decide how to define the relationship between the judicial board and the senate,” Kunkel said.
The constitution currently says that in order to repeal a ruling by the JRB the senate must have a three-fourths majority vote to repeal the ruling. They must then write a referendum to do so, and approve that referendum by a three-fourths majority. The senate has been understanding that number as a three-fourths majority of the senators at the meeting during which the vote is held.
However, after some discussion, the JRB issued an interpretation saying that the senate needs a three-fourths majority vote of all senators.
In theory, the interpretation should help resolve an issue that has had the JRB and the senate clashing with each other over the the last year. But while the JRB members were confident in their decision, they agreed with senate liaison Tom Worth that the senate wouldn’t like it.
“It’s a big problem,” Kunkel said.