Late September, Tempe’s Undergraduate Student Government President Mark Naufel, polytechnic campus President Jeffrey Hebert and downtown campus President Joseph Grossman resigned from the Arizona Students Associations’ board.
The USG leaders left because there is a lack of accountability with ASA’s professional staff.
As students who aren’t directly tied to the University drama, it’s ASA’s professional staff we have to be concerned about.
ASA’s professional staff fears no accountability from the student body. It is essentially a team of career lobbyists, who aren’t employed by the University or affiliated with it in any direct way. While it doesn’t really represent the student body, the professional staff enjoys full University voting powers, not to mention the salaries and benefits of University funds.
ASA is funded by each student’s $2 fee, adding up to thousand of dollars. It spends 62 percent of funds acquired through student fees on staff salaries. Many of the ongoing initiatives that ASA passes are not selected by the student board, but by the professional staff.
Although an executive director hired by the student board oversees ASA’s professional staff, the student board has no direct authority or oversight over the professional staff. It would appear that ASA’s professional staff dominates the organization and overreaches its power in a group that is meant to advocate for students.
Students can control who is elected to ASA’s board through voting, while students have no direct control over ASA’s professional staff. ASA’s board must be elected by the student body each year, but the professional staff remains relatively constant.
Students aren’t being accurately represented by ASA and there is no outlet through which ordinary students can voice concerns.
ASA’s professional staff isn’t accountable to students. If we ask Naufel, Hebert or Grossman, it isn’t even accountable to its colleagues.
While student involvement in University politics remains relatively low, at least students are aware that student elections are happening. The members of ASA’s professional board remain relatively silent — invisible to criticism, even when it’s time to advocate for students’ rights and implement policies that can drastically affect student life.
Moreover, ASA has been very private, insisting that its student board stay quiet about the organization. Tempe USG President Mark Naufel said he received an email stating he should be more cautious with answering questions regarding the appropriation of student funds, unless he wants to face legal consequence.
Like any government entity that has legislative powers, there are several layers of transparency missing from ASA’s process of decision-making.
But if full disclosure is too much to ask from students’ professional advisers, then how can we trust that student interests are being represented?
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