ASOSU divided on negotiations with Oregon Student Association

General ASOSU Graphic

Joe Wolf, Engagement Editor

ASOSU House passed legislation while Senate tabled, leading to second vote

A bill to revise the strained relationship between the Associated Students of Oregon State University and the Oregon Student Association, a statewide advocacy group, was tabled in the Senate last week, but passed by the House of Representatives.

OSA receives $105, 328 a year from OSU student fees to fund their lobbying efforts in the Oregon legislature, as well as trainings and conferences for students. Some members of ASOSU, one of nine student governments in the organization, have expressed concerns with the ability for OSU student voices to be heard in OSA decision-making.

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The bill passed by the House, which allows ASOSU the option to leave OSA if negotiations are unsuccessful, gives Congress the power to vote on the funds going to OSA as a bill. In the current system, the ASOSU president has the sole authority to approve the agreement with OSA, but is obligated by the ASOSU statutes to sign an agreement every year, said Speaker of the House Peter Halajian.

“I am pretty happy with the way things turned out,” Halajian said. “We were, in a very unified way, able to make an amendment that will hopefully appease members of the Senate who had issues with the bill, and I think the bill has maintained its integrity.”

Throughout the Senate and House meetings, individuals speaking on behalf of OSA raised concerns with the decisions that some members of ASOSU have made about the organization. Tabitha Pitzer, co-chair of the OSA Board of Directors and vice-chair of the ASOSU Judicial Council, said that members of ASOSU on the negotiation team and in Congress made decisions without consulting students involved in OSA.

“I would like to be there at negotiation meetings, as well as having other board members there—people who are familiar with OSA and who can give guidance on how we are structured and the many different ways we operate,” Pitzer said. “We should be brought in so it is a conversation with diverse perspectives, rather than an echo chamber.”

Halajian, who is a member of ASOSU’s negotiation team with OSA, said certain members of ASOSU who serve on OSA boards were excluded from these discussions. The negotiations team, as elected student representatives, felt that they uniquely could represent OSU’s interest in conversations with OSA, rather than appointed members. The negotiations team, made up of Halajian, Senate President pro-tempore Katarina Rodak and ASOSU President Simon Brundage, later brought their concerns to other representatives on OSA boards before making them known to the organization’s General Assembly.

“That is how a negotiation works,” Halajian said. “When we have decided on our dominant strategy, we then included members of OSA, who were more than welcome to provide comments and feedback.”

Pitzer said her issues with the process included the way members of ASOSU have proceeded, as well as the particular concerns some members of Congress have brought up, such as proportional representation and third-party polling, covered previously in The Barometer.

“It feels like exclusion, not only on behalf of myself, but for any of the other students on other member campuses,” Pitzer said. “I feel frustrated that when you have access to the co-chair of the Board of Directors and I am not asked for perspective or insight. I want to be there and I want to problem-solve.”

On Tuesday, April 10, the Senate will discuss the House’s amendments and vote on the bill at its meeting at 7 p.m.