(EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial has been amended to reflect changes in the order ballot measures are listed on the ASLCC general election myLane ballot. To be clear, The Torch is urging you to vote for Ballot Measure No. 3 and against Ballot Measure Nos. 1, 2 and 4.)
Last week The Torch urged you to vote yes for Ballot Measure No. 1 in this week’s ASLCC general election, and we urged you to vote against Ballot Measures No. 2 and 3. We didn’t mention Ballot Measure No. 4 — probably because we weren’t aware of Ballot Measure No. 4’s existence.
Sure, the student government gave The Torch two copies of the voters pamphlet, but neither copy included the last page, which describes Ballot Measure No. 4. In that measure, student officials are asking voters to approve a 10-cent increase to the student activity fee to benefit the Oregon Student Association.
Now that we have a full copy of the Election Committee’s voters pamphlet — although the use of the word “full” is debatable, considering all three versions of the voters pamphlet differ in length — we are asking you to vote against Ballot Measure No. 4. Let’s turn the tide against a state-level organization that’s homogenizing student politics and advocates policies that make student governments look, think and act the same.
The last page of the pamphlet reads like a love letter to an organization that already receives $2.44 per student, per term from Lane students: “OSA wanted to come together and fight for students, in their roles as students. In one year, all of Oregon’s public universities came together to pool their resources, form a board of directors, hire a staff, and lobby at the state and federal level.”
Once again, student officials have provided only a thin supporting rationale for a ballot measure. This is a clear violation of Section 9.4 of the ASLCC bylaws, which requires student officials to furnish “both the rationale for and the rationale against all ballot measures” in the pamphlet.
Shakespeare wrote sonnets with less reverence than this description of OSA. That’s hardly surprising considering OSA wrote the description, which was copied from the organization’s website into the voters pamphlet without citation.
If that isn’t plagiarism, it’s at least shady. Worse, it’s copied from a website that makes at least one false claim: “Each student at every member campus would pay the same amount in dues through their student fees, which to this day have never exceeded $1.17 per student per term.”
Sorry, but if Ballot Measure No. 4 passes, we’ll be paying $2.54 per term to OSA, an organization skewed towards advocating for students at four-year universities. Although ASLCC President Merriam Weatherhead presides over OSA’s board of directors, Lane is the only two-year member college.
As a community college, Lane’s interests don’t necessarily coincide with those of a university.
Lane is governed by a publicly elected board of education, not the Oregon University System. Lane is inclusive, while universities exclude students who can’t meet exacting requirements. Lane specializes in vocational training, while universities provide a more comprehensive educational experience. The cost of attending Lane is significantly lower than that of a university.
ASLCC Adviser Barb Delansky estimates that Lane students contribute more than $100,000 annually to OSA — approximately $32,000 more than Oregon State University students’ contribution, according to OSU budget documents.
Why are Lane students asked to pay six figures to an organization that primarily serves university students? The answer is simple:
Lane’s student government officials love OSA.
OSA provides leadership training and promotes the illusion that Lane’s student government should be indistinguishable from university student governments.
Those governments are larger, better funded, headed by students who frequently have more political experience and regulated by student courts. University students tend to be more politically active. Candidates for student government at University of Oregon, for example, face significant opposition and base campaigns on actual platforms.
Meanwhile, candidates for ASLCC’s executive positions are running unopposed and only a few senatorial candidates provide issue-based platforms in the voters pamphlet.
In short, OSA gives ASLCC representatives a sense of purpose and importance — and a prescribed set of priorities — until they’re dribbiling the OSA agenda down their high-fashion mint-green Vote OR Vote t-shirts.
While OSA and ASLCC have done commendable work on certain campaigns, such as registering students to vote, the sort of statewide groupthink OSA promotes hurts Lane students in the long run.
Each year, the student government is focusing more on state issues at the expense of issues central to Lane students. While OSA’s interests often align with Lane’s, it’s troublesome that some student officials feel a greater allegiance to OSA than ASLCC.
“I’m actually more excited to sit on the OSA Board of Directors,” vice presidential candidate Anayeli Jimenez said last week. “That’s been one of my biggest goals as a student leader.”
At the April 12 Oregon Ways and Means Committee meeting, Weatherhead introduced herself as an OSA representative first and our president second.
ASLCC should be voting to remove itself from OSA, as Mt. Hood Community College did in Spring 2011 in light of similar conflicts — not asking students to give OSA more money.
Then again, the Elections Committee shouldn’t be reprinting text from the OSA website in a supposedly neutral voters pamphlet.
An advertisement for OSA does not constitute supporting rationale for Ballot Measure No. 4, and the absence of opposing rationale makes this a rigged contest — and student officials have gone to great lengths to continue the rigging, even as the April 18 deadline for voting looms.
With stars in their eyes, they still can’t see OSA for what it is, a tentacled monster sucking Lane students dry even as it swims towards other oceans.
In light of all this, The Torch urges you to vote against Ballot Measures Nos. 1, 2 and 4.
We also urge you to hold next year’s government more accountable by attending ASLCC meetings, by ensuring the student government doesn’t claim for itself the power to arbitrarily change student fees, by demanding more information prior to any election and by asking OSA an essential question:
What have you done for me lately?