The Arizona Board of Regents Executive Committee decided Tuesday to send two proposals regarding a former mandatory Arizona Students’ Association fee that was suspended for the spring semester to the full board.
One proposal — supported by Regents Dennis DeConcini and Mark Killian — would give students the option of paying the fee, while clarifying that the fee is not mandatory. The fee would still be collected through the universities.
The other proposal, supported by Chairman Rick Myers, will eliminate the fee entirely.
Myers said he was concerned about the universities collecting a fee for an outside organization.
To replace ASA, Myers said a coalition could be formed between the student governments of ASU, UA and NAU.
The coalition would be able to work with ABOR if it needed to collect additional funding.
If the coalition wanted to lobby on behalf of students, it would have to collect donations from them because ABOR cannot appropriate public funds to those activities.
The use of student fees to fund ASA, a private group that advocates for student issues, has been hotly debated among student and university leaders.
The disagreements came to wider attention in late September, when Undergraduate Student Government presidents Mark Naufel, Joseph Grossman and Jeffrey Hebert left their positions on ASA’s student board.
Naufel, Grossman and Hebert expressed concern over the way the association is operated.
ASA’s use of funds, particularly a $120,000 contribution to a failed proposition that would have extended a 1-cent sales tax funding education, sparked controversy last year.
ASA brought in a little more than $600,000 for fiscal year 2013. ASU students have typically paid around $300,000 annually to ASA in mandatory fees.
ABOR voted in late November to refrain from collecting the $2 fee from students at Arizona’s public universities for the spring semester. Since that vote, the board has held more meetings to discuss a permanent removal of the fee.
ASU President Michael Crow attended Tuesday’s meeting to propose a new staff classification.
The new classification will allow the University to hire and fire employees as it sees fit, rather than committing to year-long contracts.
Crow said there was no operational reason for adding the new classification. However, he said that it would give employees incentive to always do their best work.
The new classification would be in full compliance with state and federal laws and would include a procedure for release to prevent arbitrary firing.
The committee unanimously voted to send the proposals about the ASA fee and Crow’s employment proposal to the full board. The board will do its first reading of the proposals at a Jan. 23 meeting.
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