Students to vote on $2 sustainability fee hike - Montana Kaimin: News

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Another Fee? Students to vote on $2 sustainability fee hike

Finance resolution tabled, two more sent to ballot

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 1:22 am

After spending nearly two and a half hours in discussion over two meetings, ASUM left its biggest agenda item on the table Wednesday night, and instead voted to place two measures on the upcoming election ballots.

ASUM voted to table a resolution that would limit campus election financing for student groups to $300. 

The resolution would limit the amount of influence of student groups, corporations and special interest groups that may have a vested interest in ballot items, which students vote on in ASUM elections. It would limit the amount groups can spend to campaign for or against items. 

“We would ensure that all outside groups have a fair and equal chance in elections,” senator Shelby Dolezal said.

ASUM already regulates campaign spending for its senators, business manager and executive team. 

Senators made multiple amendments to the resolution, substantially changing parts of it. Those changes caused clarity issues for many senators, which resulted in ASUM voting to table the resolution. 

Dustin Leftridge, a board member for MontPIRG, said clarity in the campaign finance resolution is important for every future ASUM elections.

“You have a bill that says something now and three years down the road it may mean something different,” Leftridge said. 

The resolution received support from some campus groups throughout the two meetings.  

“We’ve heard from the College Democrats, College Libertarians and as a member of the College Republicans, we support this,” Senator Brandon Simpson said. “It’s probably the first time we have had all three support something.”

ASUM also voted Wednesday to place an optional $6 sustainability fee on its ballot as a referendum item for student vote. The ballot would increase the current fee by $2.

“This is about if we want to continue a program that we have invested in for five or six years now,” ASUM president Zach Brown said. “Do we want to continue to invest in sustainable energy, and do we want to invest in providing sustainable energy solutions to buildings on this campus?”

The current fee, which students pay with their tuition, supports the sustainability coordinator and the Kless Revolving Energy Loan Fund, which provides student with resources to start sustainability projects.

“If you’re upset about your university bill, you can opt-out of the $6 within three clicks,” said Senator Gwendolyn Coon.

ASUM also voted to place an item on its election ballot referendum that would reserve two of its 26-senate seats for a student from Missoula College and from the Graduate School.

“By and large the (Missoula College and Graduate School) are not actively engaged with students on a day to day basis,” ASUM lobbyist Asa Hohman said. “This is an opportunity for them to have a voice on this body.”

The two seats would automatically be given to a Missoula College student and a Graduate School student that runs for a senate position, eliminating the need to be elected. If no student from either student body runs, the seats will be given back to at-large candidates. 

“Students voted to expand this body last year, which means we have more seats and more representation than we had previously,” Senator Damara Simpson said. “I see nothing wrong with reserving two of those seats.” 

Senator Ryan Hazen said the Missoula College and Graduate School should not be given special privilege just because they are underrepresented. 

“What’s to say that the Department of Forestry can’t get their own senate seat because they’re underrepresented?” Hazen said. “If they’re underrepresented, (ASUM) should be reaching out to them.”

Students will be able to vote on the two ballot items on May 1 and 2 in ASUM’s general election.


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