ASOSU to provide student names, faces for Oregon legislature
Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 01:01
Coming into this summer and fall term ASOSU had one mission along with their regular tasks of service: to register students to vote. Since this goal has been accomplished and a record number of students have been registered across the state, ASOSU begins to look forward in the utilization of their fall term efforts.
Oregon’s legislative session will be opening up for its regular session on Feb. 4, and a large amount of the effort put forth winter term will be focused toward the capitol, where ASOSU can emphasize on higher education funding.
The importance of higher education and the continual decrease in funding needs to become a concern and priority for state politicians, one which will be emphasized not just to fellow students by ASOSU, but by students directly to state representatives in Salem.
“We want to have an event where we can pull in a lot of students and let the legislature know how we feel, and that students do vote and are in need,” said Dan Cushing, ASOSU vice president. “But we are looking for deliberate action on [the legislature’s] part. We will be building off of the phone banking and the past success we had last term with this term.”
Visits to the capitol, lobbying for student’s needs and the recruitment of students for these trips will begin early in winter term. There will be two ways these visits will take place. One of the visits will be a “day of action,” one large day in participation with the Oregon Students Association and other member schools where lobbying can be done as a large collective body.
Individual visits by the OSU campus will be made as well. These sessions will be smaller, having four or five students meet with a legislature and representative to provide a voice and face for student issues.
However, time will still be needed. As legislatures begin to finalize their bills and committees begin to meet with the opening of the 77th State Legislature, a clearer vision still needs to be established.
“In terms of the OSA, we don’t have a specific task at this point in time related to the budgeting,” ASOSU President Amelia Harris said.
The topics and history of student issues and lobby prioritizations are known even if the specifics of the actual bill numbers, presented and the final figures for the state budget, are still to come.
The OSA currently has six priority issues to focus on. Improving funding for schools and financial aid, increased funding for childcare and requiring cultural competency among health care providers across the state, including on-campus health care providers, are among the issues outlined by the OSA.
“Schools not Prison” is another one of the OSA’s platforms for 2013 lobbying. This issue will request the state to prioritize the investment of higher education as opposed to continually increasing the state prison budget, which has doubled since 1980, according to the OSA advocacy information.
“[We are] looking at measure 11 and trying to reform the minimum sentencing laws that current jurists and judges are bound to in the state,” Cushing said. “[This] is causing our corrections budgets to go up and education budgets to go down.”
While the capitol is still picking up speed, on-campus efforts are being made as well to help combat the continual lack of funding from the state. Both Harris and Cushing have looked through OSU’s budgets as an institution in attempts to find wastes in spending, and ways to save money across the campus.
“What we found was that there is very little waste at the institutional level,” Cushing says. “The dollars that we do get are squeezed and are being stretched thin. There really isn’t a lot of extra room at all at the campus level. The problem is at the state level. Every year the state is giving less and less money to higher education.”
The issues focused on at the capitol are expansive, but still only one facet of the Harris-Cushing administration’s plan of action. Issues in regard to international students with academic dishonesty and tuition use, grad students establishing a union, the process in which sexual assault cases are handled and the resources given to victims are all areas to be worked on by ASOSU.
Campus compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was highlighted throughout fall term, will continue to be a focus throughout the duration of the administration. Lobbying efforts will be made in regards to funding for costs related to becoming ADA compliant, but efforts on campus still need to be done.
The passing of “The ADA Compliance Act” by the ASOSU Senate is one need. HR 04.01 asks for the university’s action in the internal assessment of OSU’s campus for ADA violations, including a plan for fixing these violations. After the ASOSU House of Representatives passed the resolution in the fall, it was stalled in the senate during the last few weeks of the term and was left to wait over winter break. The resolution will go back up for vote in the beginning weeks of the term.
“We need that legislation,” Harris said. “If congress wanted to pass it that would be wonderful, and would make our point even clearer to have their support.”