Administration’s EMU plan in trouble

11/17/2011: Greg Bolt of the RG has a comprehensive story on the administration’s plans for EMU expansion. VP Robin Holmes has proposed a Cadillac prestige project packed with expensive goodies – a swimming pool? Hot tubs? ASUO Pres Ben Eckstein – representing the students who will pay the bill – wants something cheaper and with more space for student groups and activities. Eckstein has forced the administration to bring it to the students for a vote. Now Holmes is trying to play hardball, casting the administration proposal as a final, take it or leave it offer:

Holmes also said the administration will respect the student vote. If the referendum is rejected, the projects will not be built and the facilities will remain as they are.

Bullshit. If the students reject this, the administration will go back to the drawing board, this time with input from the students. Which they should have done in the first place.

ASUO government working pretty well

10/14/2011: We’ve had a few posts about conflicts between VP for Students Robin Holmes and the students. Both now seem resolved, at least temporarily. Franklin Bains has a long story in the ODE on EMU referendum:

The meat of this negotiation was a line-by-line hashing out where Eckstein would read a section from the original memo he tried to sign with Holmes, which was not agreed to, that provoked the postponement. Following, senators — who all had this document open on their computers, along with the new document that was receiving revisions — would discuss concerns they had and vote on these individual sections.

Finally, just before 4 a.m., the final memorandum was approved, and the group took a 15-minute recess so another group could write the letter. It went out to the Multicultural Center, the Women’s Center and the governing bodies of Fraternity and Sorority Life on Thursday. Those bodies returned approval. The letter was read, and the magnitude of that momentous occasion was reflected upon.

“I’ve never seen this happen before … I want to thank everybody,” said Eckstein, who is going on his third full year in the ASUO.

Then the OMAS fight, led by UO Truth, a group of students and their OMAS advisors who were worried they would be reassigned as part of Holmes’s efforts to restore some sanity to Charles Martinez’s OIED empire. Mei Tsai reports Robin Holmes has compromosed there too:

Students with the UO Truth Coalition and Vice President of Student Affairs Robin Holmes agreed in a meeting Friday afternoon to set up a student advisory board that would work with administration in the transition of OMAS to CMAE.

The UO Truth Coalition would like to see a board of 10 students from the group, as well as other representatives of other student groups. It would take part in the hiring process of potential CMAE advisors, as well as approve or disapprove of hiring advisors.
However, she did not agree to allow the student board to oversee the administration and its processes.

“To have oversight over an administrative function is not something I can agree to, nor do I think it would work,” she said.

Students also asked for included the retaining current OMAS services, hiring culturally competent advisors to fill advising positions that are currently empty, and creating more scholarships for in-state students of color. Holmes agreed to all of these.

Bit by bit the administration is learning they are better off consulting with the students than ignoring them.

UO administration picks new ASUO President

11/10/2011 Update: The ODE reports the student leadership have agreed to a plan on the EMU referendum, which they will present to VP Holmes today.

11/9/2011:  The UO administration is going after ASUO President Ben Eckstein because he went to the OUS board and got them to agree that UO couldn’t sell bonds repaid with student money unless  students passed a referendum on the EMU renovation plans. He cancelled the referendum when VP Robin Holmes wouldn’t answer questions about how the money would be spent. Good for him.

Last year the administration went after ASUO President Amelie Rousseau because she had the nerve to ask tough questions about how VP Frances Dyke was spending student money on lobbying the legislature for armed UO cops. Good for her.

So what’s the end game? UO Matters has obtained video showing exactly what it will take to satisfy the UO administration’s definitions of appropriate student government behavior. We bring you ASUO President Greg Niedermeyer:

Students postpone EMU referendum

11/8/2011: In June the OUS board refused to sign off on a bond sale to fund the EMU expansions until the students agreed to the plans – in no small part because the plan requires students to pay $100 a quarter in increased fees, but hadn’t been consulted about what their money would buy. The UO administration was royally pissed, but VP Robin Holmes said

“I don’t anticipate this slowing us down,” Holmes said. “It’s okay to do the referendum and show we have student support and more forward with it.”

ASUO Pres Ben Eckstein set up the election for Nov. Then it seems the administration stopped talking to the student groups about the EMU design, and started putting in all sorts of things that sounded great to administrators (concert hall, pools, hot-tubs) but not the parts that sounded important to students. (Space for student groups.) Eckstein got tired of getting the run around, so he called their bluff and postponed the election. There will be a meeting today: (Tuesday, Nov 8) from 11-1 at the EMU Amphitheater.

EMU referendum

10/13/2011: VP Robin Holmes and the UO administration want to renovate the EMU. Great. But they want to do it to suit their own tastes, not those of the student’s. Well. OK, they are paying for it, they get to choose.  Except they are not – they want the students to pay off the bonds, $100 $300 a year each, for 30 years. OK, well, you got the power, you make the rules. That’s life, suck it up.

But now they also want the students to smile while they toe the line. So the administration is trying to swing an election so that it will look like the students have voluntarily agree to the administration’s plan to spend the student’s money to build the student union building that the administration wants. If I understand this correctly VP Holmes’ office is breaking the rules that the students have set to keep a level playing field for elections. From an ODE Op-Ed from ASUO President Ben Eckstein and others:

Last spring, the University moved forward with plans to renovate and expand the EMU and the Student Recreation Center. These projects — as exciting and well-intentioned as they may be — would also come at a significant cost to students. The projects could be funded by new student fees totaling $100 per term for a period of 30 years.

The decisions being made about our student union and recreation center are important ones, and they will affect the cost and quality of our education. These decisions pertain to our campus and our student facilities (the ones that we pay for with our tuition and fees), and it is vital that students have a say in these matters….

That said, we find it troubling that this same administration has already launched a partisan campaign encouraging students to vote yes on the renovation while downplaying the fact that the cost will be an additional $100 per term for each student for the next 30 years. It seems the University has taken a clear stance on what they believe students should do, but we believe that this referendum is an opportunity for students to make their own decision.

Now that’s an education in politics – too bad it’s such an expensive one. More in this ODE story by Rockne Andrew Roll.

How UO does a referendum:

6/3/2011: The administration started the year by ignoring student opposition to spending millions of their tuition money on armed, sworn police – while condescendingly telling them, and the faculty, that they had been consulted and informed, and that the proposal would actually save us $76,000 a year.

ASUO President Amelie Rousseau reacted by not trusting anything else she heard from President Lariviere, and then organizing opposition to his legislative New Partnership proposals. Did the administration get the message? From Adeline Bash in the ODE:

The decision to hold off on implementing the new fee on students for the EMU and Student Recreation Center was made last-minute yesterday evening after days of discussion, University Vice President Robin Holmes said.

After a meeting with (new) ASUO President Ben Eckstein, the administration decided to get more student input on the fees through a formal referendum this fall, Holmes said.

But VP Holmes already knows the outcome of this formal referendum:

“I don’t anticipate this slowing us down,” Holmes said. “It’s okay to do the referendum and show we have student support and more forward with it.”

Now there’s a lesson in political science – never hold an election unless you know the winner. Meanwhile, the UO Swat team legislation seems set to pass. Latest report is that Doug Tripp is planning on expanding his force from 16 to 26 – all apparently cruising around in 4×4’s and Police Interceptors. That’s community policing?