Student government: Budget cuts prioritize OSU students

ASOSU Leadership

Every year, ten student fee funded units at Oregon State University go through a budget setting process for the next fiscal year. ASOSU, as a unit, goes through a parallel process, sitting down with key stakeholders and departmental leadership to organize a budget that is keeping in-line with projected enrollment rates, key services and recommended changes. This year, as ASOSU top leadership sat down to deliberate on the finer points of the budget, close to $70,000 had to be cut from the portion defined as “Student Government.” We, ASOSU elected and appointed leadership, would like to offer insight into the process, and the decisions made, so as to keep in line with our mission of maintaining transparency to the student body. We want to honor that students pay these fees and have a right to know how they are being used.

ASOSU functions based on rules and regulations passed by representatives of the student body and reflects a thorough and rigorous process. This process is maintained by a check-and-balance system that is facilitated by the Student Fee Committee, an independent committee that recommends student fee levels to ASOSU’s Joint Congress later in the school year. 

Branch leadership in ASOSU made a recommendation to the House Ways and Means to cut a line item in our budget that would go toward the Oregon Student Association. ASOSU previously paid this organization approximately $105,000 to engage in various civic-based activities. This includes lobbying for student interests at the state Capitol, assisting the ASOSU Executive Branch with Voter registration efforts once per term, as well as developing leaders. Due to a decrease in projected student enrollment, and consequently, less revenue coming in from student fees, the ASOSU branch leadership felt that it was no longer feasible to allocate $105,000 of those fees to the ASOSU Student government portion of the budget. This decision was made while massive cuts were being felt across all of ASOSU’s budget. 

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The House Ways and Means committee has voted to move this recommendation forward, meaning that OSA will see a $55,000 decrease from what they were offered last year. We recognize this as a significant change to the budget, but one that we feel was made in the best interest of students. It’s for this reason that we find it important to provide a rationale and continue to engage the student body in the decisions that we are making.

In order to maintain student salaries and the majority of the student positions in ASOSU’s Executive Branch, OSA’s budget was a necessary overall decrease. Branch leadership, through ongoing conversations, found it essential that we prioritize students at OSU at all times over external entities. This decision took time and an internal examination of our values as an organization, as well as people. 

As is required and outlined with ASOSU’s guiding documents, negotiations with OSA will begin moving forward by an independent ASOSU committee. The OSA negotiation committee will offer a recommendation to Congress on whether to “invest” or “divest” with the $50,000 that has been allocated to pay the organization. 

We, and ASOSU, will continue to engage members of Oregon State civically while continuing to provide advocacy, support, and our mission of bringing people together.

Justin Bennett

ASOSU President

Aiden Tariku

ASOSU Vice-President

Carol Moreno

ASOSU Speaker of the House

Luke Bennett

ASOSU Judicial Council Chair