Regents, students discuss Arizona Students’ Association funding

Student government representatives from ASU, NAU and UofA met with the Arizona Board of Regents Wednesday to discuss the Arizona Students’ Association’s funding as the Tempe Undergraduate Student Government plans to disassociate from ASA.

A $2 fee paid each semester by every Arizona public university student funds the higher education nonprofit advocacy program.

USG Tempe President Mark Naufel, who opposes the fee, said no other nonprofit organization takes money from students.

Many students are paying an organization without knowing they’re doing so, he said.

Naufel said ASA donated $120,000 to the failed Proposition 204, making the group the second-highest contributor to a measure that would have extended a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund education and infrastructure.

“They shouldn’t use money to contribute to political campaigns that students don’t know about,” Naufel said.

Naufel said fees should no longer fund ASA because it’s supposed to be student-run and student-driven.

“$300,000 of the money ASA gets goes to adult salaries each year,” Naufel said. “At this point, it has become an adult-run organization.”

The NAU and UofA student body presidents expressed their support for the ASA fee.

NAU Student Body President Sammy Smart said his university’s voice in the capitol would be lost without ASA.

“It’s a fee that directly benefits the students,” Smart said.

UA Student Body President Katy Murray said ASA is beneficial because the program looks at the collective good.

In an effort to appease both sides, Regent Rick Myers suggested giving students an “opt-in” option, where they could choose whether or not they want to fund ASA.

USG was the only entity in favor of the idea set forth by Myers.

Murray said ASA would die with an opt-in fee.

ASA Executive Director Casey Dreher said allowing students to opt-in would be detrimental to the program.

ASU Graduate and Professional Student Association President Rhian Stotts said students should decide whether there is an opt-in fee.

During the meeting, regent Dennis DeConcini said ASA has been extremely effective for all universities, but voiced his support for the opt-in fee.

“ASA has to sell their product to the people,” DeConcini said.

USG Downtown President Joseph Grossman said the school should not require students to pay into the program.

“They make the fee so small that no one will opt out,” Grossman said.

Despite the mixed feelings, ABOR student regent Tyler Bowyer has a positive outlook for ASA.

Bowyer said there are some good options for ASA to receive funding.

“I want to see ASA stay strong,” he said.

ABOR plans to make a decision on Nov. 26.

 

Reach the reporter at adrian.martinez.1@asu.edu