Students target ASSOU

A group of disgruntled Southern Oregon University students notified the Associated Students of Southern Oregon last week of their intent to petition to have the organization dismissed completely.

The notification from the “Leninists for Crypto-Fascist Democracy” was given to ASSOU before Tuesday night’s Senate meeting.

The anonymous declaration seeks to obtain signatures from 10 percent of the student body, nearly 650 students, to dismiss the ASSOU in its entirety, citing “unaccountability, selfishness and deceit,” the document stated.

The group filed the “Declaration of Intent to Engage in Non-violent and Socially Acceptable Acts of War Against the ASSOU,” after months of turmoil within the student government.

ASSOU has spent time since the beginning of the year dealing with things like considering the impeachment of President Stephen Land, several members resigning from their positions, and ongoing problems with accurately following the ASSOU constitution.

Most recently, ASSOU approved the purchase of a $940 timer to facilitate their meetings, and appointed Education, Health, and Military Science Senator Fiona Mattson without proper notification to the campus about the open position.

“This was obviously written by a loaded gun,” Stevenson Union Sen. Hayden Perkins said. “We have overcome before and we will again.”

Students who sign the petition would be endorsing a vote of “No Confidence” within the ASSOU based on alleged misuse of Student Incidental Fees to pay for ASSOU salaries, use of positions to obtain special treatment, illegal alteration of contracts, and failure to promote needs of the student body, the document stated.

“This isn’t a fair representation of anything,” Speaker of the Senate Kirby Rider said. “This doesn’t open up dialogue.”

The declaration focuses on the stipend ASSOU representatives receive through the student incidental fee, particularly questioning the “justification of a paycheck.”

“You are muggers of your student body,” the document stated. “You are freeloaders and beggars, taking the change from our pockets to serve your convenience, without regard for those who pay your way.”

Executive Director of Student Advocacy Kelly McAllister, Director of Environmental Affairs James Ellsworth and Director of Multicultural Affairs Sophia Soberon were named specifically in the document.

Though this year’s senators were the first ever to receive compensation for their work, Land said involvement isn’t about the paycheck.

The stipends were issued to help with fuel and other expenses, and several members of ASSOU were active before the money was given.

“Most would not want the pay to avoid this,” Perkins said. “Every member would do it for free if they were able to.”

The student government plans to launch a public relations campaign in response to the document.

“They’re asking what we’re doing to justify our paycheck, let’s let them know,” Land said.

ASSOU has been receptive to the message the document sends despite the “libelous attacks” included within the document, Perkins said.

“We’re dealing with stuff internally and sometimes we just freight line and move on to the next project,” Speaker Kirby Rider said. “It’s a huge eye-opener. We need to slow down and approach the student body.”

This year, ASSOU has passed legislation in support of protection for veterans returning to the university from military service, Eliza Schaaf, and the Dream Act.

“We are also at the forefront of higher education funding,” Rider said. “We’re the first to be lobbying and talking to representatives consistently.”

The students are also exploring the creation of a multicultural leadership program, Oregon University System Restructure, open forums for blood drives and military recruiters on campus, and bringing a conference about queer issues and rights back to campus.

If the group is successful in collecting 650 signatures, ASSOU could be dismissed at the most pivotal point of the year.

The Student Fee process has just begun and budgets for the 2011-12 school year are being created. If ASSOU is dismissed, $3.8 million will not be allocated to the clubs and organizations that fall under ASSOU’s budget umbrella, causing administrators to step-in and oversee the process.

A potential budget was presented at Tuesday’s senate meeting. The second presentation of the budget showed an increase in pay for senators, a decrease in pay for judiciaries, an $11,000 increase in travel expenses, and an increase of $75,000 to cover the Raider Leadership Academy, Epic and other miscellaneous items. The total budget is currently increased by approximately $175,000 for next year.

Senate will examine another budget on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. Senate chambers.


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