ASA debates over future fees

 
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 BY GARY COLLINS —

The Associated Students of Arizona (ASA) held their Spring Into Action Kickoff on Jan. 30. ASA interns put on the event, held at the beginning of each semester.

Allyson Furey, a freshman elementary education major, was responsible for some of the details.

“All the interns put on a kickoff where we call the student body forward and fight for the rights of students,” Furey said.

Zachary Eliason, a sophomore politics, philosophy and law major, came to the event to find out what ASA was about.

“Since this organization claims to educate students about the legislative political happenings in Arizona,” Eliason said, “I thought it would be good to see what they do.”

What ASA does, according to their mission statement, is “make sure that higher education in Arizona is affordable and accessible by advocating to elected officials and running issue campaigns to engage students.”

One activity at the event was to encourage students to write to their state legislators expressing opposition to House Bill 2169. The bill was introduced by Rep. John Kavanagh (R) District 23. Kavanagh has put a hold upon the bill pending the decision by the Arizona Board of Reagents (ABOR); he is reserving his right to move it forward if he is unhappy with the decision by the board.

If enacted, the bill would prohibit any of the three state universities from distributing fees to any student organization that uses those fees to attempt to influence an election or advocate for or against any pending or proposed legislation.

“The problem that we have here now is that the university is helping collect money that may be diverted to political campaigns and I’m going to have to talk to some regents about that problem.  No public money should be spent on political campaigns,” Kavanagh said.

In the future, students would have to consent in writing to any fees given to a student organization. This latter provision differs from the proposed change in fee collection benefitting ASA, which is to be voted on by ABOR on Feb. 6. The difference lies in the ABOR ruling, which would not require written notification, only a simple opt-in.

A more significant difference between the bill and the ABOR proposal is the HB 2169 would require a written opt-in by students for not only the ASA $2 fee but also the ASNAU 23 Fee and the Green Fund fee. It was because of the threat these two latter fees were facing that caused ASA to seek student support in helping make known the effect that it might have.

“We’re trying to write letters to our legislators to tell them . . . why we need the $23 fee and the $2 fee,” Furey said.

The 23 Fee is collected from NAU students each semester and distributed by the ASNAU Senate for student clubs, organizations, the spring concert, free legal counsel for students, extended hours at Cline Library and the Snow Jack Express.

James Ballard, a freshman political science major who attended the event with his friends, felt there was more to education than just classwork and what ASNAU does helps foster a feeling of community.

“Not all education comes out of a textbook,” Ballard said. “These groups all help education, in a way.”

 

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