Newly passed bill clarifies student government powers at Oregon colleges and universities
The Oregon legislature on Tuesday passed a bill focused on strengthening the autonomy and authority of public college and university student governments over their financial decisions.
Bill 3012 asserts the power of student governments over tuition money that is used to fund various programs and services on campuses, clarifying the wording of an existing state statute.
The bill made its way through the state legislature when several Oregon student governments, such as those at the University of Oregon and Western Oregon, had disputes with administrators over delays and disagreements over incidental student fees.
“[T]he legislature has affirmed the importance for students of our post-secondary institutions to have a say in their education and what happens on their campus, ”the Oregon Student Association, an advocacy group, said in a statement. non-profit students. “Student fee autonomy has been a fundamental tenet of shared governance in higher education in Oregon for decades, and with the passage of this bill, we see this generation of student leaders and elected officials coming together. to reaffirm its importance. ”
Unlike fees controlled by college and university administrations, which can be spent on classroom facilities or technology, student incidentals are allocated by the elected student government for the benefit of students – such as clubs and students. specific student programs.
The way the current state statute is worded, a college or university has the general power to deny a student government’s request for ancillary fees if the administration decides that the request does not add to “development.” cultural or physical students ”.
HB 3012 restricts this wording by indicating that a board may refuse a request for tuition fees if it is “not reasonably related” to the education, teaching, services or recreation of the pupils.
School boards still have the option of denying a student government’s fee request if the request violates a law, conflicts with a contractual financial commitment, or is for a 5% increase, including outside of a state of emergency.
The bill also clarifies the time limits within which college or university councils must notify a student government if it rejects or changes the proposed fees.
Oregon Democratic Representative Paul Evans was one of the main sponsors of HB 3012.
“I just think that if we’re really going to practice democracy, those adults who attend our public colleges and universities should have the ability to prioritize for that particular kind of student fee, and institutions should really play a much less role. important in decision-making, ”Evans said at a legislative hearing in February. If I were to pay the amount that people pay in a public institution, I would like to have more say in this type of fee, and that is what this bill does.
The bill is one of the few to have passed this legislative session focused on student autonomy and the transparency of tuition fees.