Regents to suspend ASA student funding

Starting next semester, students at the three state universities will not pay the $2 fee funding the Arizona Students’ Association that has drawn controversy at ASU this year.

The Arizona Board of Regents voted Monday in a special meeting to suspend the collection of the fee next semester pending a final decision from ABOR about the future of ASA and its funding at the universities.

ASA will not receive about $300,000, which is half of its yearly budget, because of the suspension.

ABOR launched its investigation into ASA after the Undergraduate Student Government Tempe Senate presented a report in late October asking ABOR to consider removing ASA from the ASU campus.

This move was prompted by the resignations of USG Tempe President Mark Naufel and two other USG presidents from their positions on the ASA board in late September.

The board was scheduled to make a decision regarding ASA at this meeting or sometime in December, but some board members said they needed more time to investigate the issue and evaluate possible solutions.

Regent Dennis DeConcini presented the motion to suspend the fee and postpone a final decision about ASA.

“It seems only fair and equitable that we have some time before we make this major judgment,” DeConcini said.

USG Vice President of Policy Brendan Pantilione, who sits on the ASA Board of Directors, said she is pleased that the Regents are not rushing into a decision.

“Pushing the decision back to February really gives us ample time to come to the table and get some constructive feedback for our proposals,” Pantilione said.

She said the budget cut should not substantially affect ASA operations next semester, because they have enough money in reserves to cover the income loss.

“We’re still going to advocate for students,” Pantilione said.  “We’re still going to do as much as we possibly can.”

Tempe USG President Mark Naufel said though he understands why the Regents postponed the decision, he wishes they would keep the issue from dragging on.

“They’re just trying to make (the process) as transparent as possible,” Naufel said. “Having more time will allow us to give more input and for them to make it a more fair process.”

However, Naufel is also concerned that delaying the decision until next year could be the Regents’ way of hoping the issue will blow over before they reach a final verdict.

“Year after year, we’ve stated that we don’t want this,” Naufel said.  “We’re never going to want this, and we’re not going to stop until the fee is gone.”

USG Downtown President Joseph Grossman said USG is ready and equipped to take ASA’s place in advocating for student issues in the Legislature.

He said he hopes NAU and UA will work with the ASU USG to coordinate advocacy for students statewide.

“We’re not against advocating for all students in the state, we’re against this fee structure,” Naufel said.

ABOR expects to make a final decision regarding ASA at a board meeting in February.

 

Reach the reporter at tnhoman@asu.edu