$2 ASA fee cancelled for spring semester
By Gary Collins
The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) suspended, for the spring semester, the $2 fee students are charged to support the Arizona Students Association (ASA) on Nov. 26.
This move is only a temporary suspension of the fee. ABOR is expected to reaffirm its vote and approve a policy review calender at their regular meeting on Dec. 6.
Reactions to the suspension were mixed. NAU Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President Sammy Smart, a senior elementary and special education major, was disappointed in the decision. She had pushed for delay until the February ABOR meeting.
“We were hoping to postpone a decision until the February meeting of the board so that all sides could be heard,” Smart said.
Mark Naufel, ASU Tempe campus USG President, was content with the decision
“I am pleased with the decision . . . the only disappointment I had with the Regents’ decision to postpone the permanent decision; at the end of the day this fee will be removed, postponing it just means we have to wait longer before ASUA and ASNAU are willing to work with us to create something new and more beneficial for our students,” Naufel said.
This action follows on the heels of the ASU Tempe campus’s USG Senate Oct. 23 resolution to no longer associate with ASA financially and otherwise.
Prior to this, on Sept. 26, ASU Downtown USG President Jeff Grossman and his Vice-President of Policy David Bakardjiev resigned from ASA following Naufel’s resignation the day before. Jeffery Hebert, president of the ASU polytechnics campus, along with his vice president of policy, Shauniece High, had resigned on Sept. 13.
While these resignations were due in large part to organizational differences between some members of the various ASU campuses (ASU West campus student leaders opted not to participate in ASA altogether), the precipitating concerns of those who resigned were the $100,000 the ASA Board voted to spend in support of Proposition 204.
These resignations were not of concern to ABOR because ASA is an independent non-profit organization of students subject to their own bylaws. What is of concern, and within the jurisdiction of, the Board is the mechanism by which the $2 student fee that finances ASA’s activities.
Currently this refundable, non-mandatory fee is collected through the three state universities (ASU, NAU and UA) at the beginning of each semester. ABOR has no jurisdiction on how the fee is spent by ASA, nor can it abolish the fee. Its only authority lies in whether it can be collected through the university tuition collection processes.
The fee was established by the ASA Board in 1997 when a referendum was put before students of the three universities asking if they supported a fully refundable $1 per semester assessment each semester rather the $35,000 taken directly from student fees. In 2008, another referendum was held raising this fee to $2. Both of these referendums passed.
According to an update on “ABOR Policy 5-201 “Arizona Students’ Association” Review Process” issued on Nov. 30, the board will meet at a still to be determined date and time in Jan. 2013 to have a first reading on the proposed changes to ABOR Policy 5-201.
These changes are proposed in the Executive Summary of the Nov. 26 meeting. The draft for the Jan. 2013 special board meeting, which are subject to change proposes that section D of Policy 5201 (the allowance of ASA to collect its $2 dollar fee through the universities) be eliminated permanently, but also would strike most of section C. which states “ASA will educate students, serve as a collective voice to promote excellence in education and guarantee students access to the highest quality education as nearly free as possible.”
As proposed in the draft it would be changed to only “ASA will operate in accordance with its bylaws.”
Anyone wishing to have input on this proposed policy change may do so by contacting the Board of Regents via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail at: Arizona Board of Regents Attn: Peggy Martin 2020 N. Central Avenue, Suite 230 Phoenix, Arizona 85004.
Any permanent changes to ABOR would be voted on at the regularly scheduled February meeting in Tucson.
If ABOR eliminates this method of funding for ASA, the student association would still be empowered to seek additional funding opportunities.