Before Fall Break, Student Senate tackled the issue of renewing the student advocacy group, OhioPIRG's, funding system.
OhioPIRG's funding is based on a $6 waivable fee placed on student tuition bills each semester. Every two years OhioPIRG funding system must be reaffirmed by two-thirds of the student body in a referendum. OhioPIRG met with Senate in order to get approval for the wording of this referendum.
In the past this wording was routinely approved by Senate. This year, however, an objection to the wording was raised by senator junior Aaron Slodounik. In a surprise to both OhioPIRG and Senate members, Slodounik offered his own amendment to the OhioPIRG referendum. "I brought a counterproposal to make clear the purpose of the petition," said Slodounik.
Slodounik's intrusion into the written proposal of a student organization was surprising because it contradicted Slodounik's consistent advocacy of Senate's neutrality. Several senators objected to Slodounik's amendment. "I do not feel comfortable with a Student senator rewriting a group's proposal," said senator junior Angela Migally.
Senate's procedural processes for discussion caused difficulty with communication between the two organizations. Several times Matt Baker, a representative for OhioPIRG, tried to voice his opinion and was prevented from doing so by his unfamiliarity with Senate's procedures and processes. Some senators feel that Senate is doing Oberlin a great disservice. "We are being choked by our own rules," said senator first-year Chris Anton. At the end of the proceedings several senators privately approached OhioPIRG's representatives to apologize.
Senate refused to pass both Slodounik's amendment and OhioPIRG's existing referendum. Junior BJ Renteria criticized Senate for, "railroading and alienating OhioPIRG."
OhioPIRG members and Senators have worked together on clarifying the proposal to facilitate its passage at next week's meeting.
Anton offered his opinion of the meeting, "This is the second time this organization has come to us and this is the second time we let them down. I am embarrassed on behalf of Senate," he said.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 7, October 30, 1998
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