Student government leaders did not reach a consensus last night on whether a recently passed initiative to implement a $2.50 student fee for sustainable projects would be ongoing or expire after three years.
The Associated Students of the University of Utah General Assembly and Senate both passed measures supporting the fee last week, but each body passed a slightly different version of the bill. The student leaders met Monday night to iron out differences in the bills and made three amendments to it, but did not settle on a time frame for the fee.
“This is another step in the process,” said Derek Hoffman, Assembly vice-chairman. “We are that much closer to implementing this initiative.”
The amendments included definitions for who will sit on the proposed committee to assess and allocate funds garnered by the fee, as well as define the committee’s purpose and how the committee will determine whether or not the fee is successful.
Representatives from across campus will compose the committee, including leaders from the ASUU Senate and Assembly, appointees from the Dean of Students office, members of the ASUU Sustainability Board, representatives from the income and accounting office and representatives from plant operations.
After three years, the committee will re-evaluate the fee to determine whether it has succeeded or failed in meeting the goals of the initiative to further sustainable projects on campus. After this period of assessment, if the majority of the appointed committee does not think the goals are being met, it would recommend to the Utah State Board of Regents that the fee no longer be charged.
Some student leaders still oppose the initiative, however.
“This whole process is one of the biggest violations that I have ever seen in cutting out the student voice in the ASUU process,” said Kasi Goodwin, senator from the College of Science. “When these issues were presented, ASUU did not give a balanced view of what students want. Students have to make their voice known, or else ASUU will continue to do things that don’t represent what students want.”
The bill will now be sent back to the full Assembly and Senate for final approval.
Goodwin said that a large group of representatives have been flooded with e-mails from students opposing the measure throughout the day.
Jon Hayes, vice president of ASUU, said that he thought these e-mails were too late to be considered.
“Those e-mails were sent after the main debate,” Hayes told the committee. “They had their chance to have a voice in the process, and now that chance is over. The fee has been approved and will be recommended by the administration to the Board of Regents, regardless of what input we get now.”
After ASUU passes the fee initiative, the U Board of Trustees and the Regents must approve it before it can be implemented.
Goodwin said that Hayes’ statement means that the students who voiced their opinions have no valid claim to input.
“That sounds like they are oppressing student voices,” she said. “If this passes, we may have to do the ridiculous thing and lobby the Board of Regents against our own student government.”
Because the legislative bodies must approve the measure in time for the Board of Trustees meeting on March 10, they will meet electronically, rather than in person.
Jen Buhler, chairwoman of the ASUU Senate, said that an in-person meeting is not feasible because of the time crunch.
“There is no way we could get everyone together in time,” Buhler said.
Hayes said he would be happy to consider holding an in-person meeting, if that is what the Assembly wants to do.
“Whatever they decide I will honor,” said Hayes, who chairs the Assembly.