The Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College are currently in a gray area as they attempt to figure out how they fit into the college.
Central Oregon Community College is in a state of change. COCC is expanding and defining it’s role in Central Oregon’s communities. There is another role being defined within the college. ASCOCC, the student government at COCC isn’t clear if they are independent of the college and what it means if they do not have to follow COCC’s policies.
“We’re not looking for a separation from the college, we’re looking for a more defined definition of what ASCOCC is, how ASCOCC pertains to the college,” said Brenda Pierce, ASCOCC’s marketing coordinator. “A lot of times we’re getting into funding issues.”
ASCOCC members have consulted with the college board, community members, and, throughout the last year, consulted with attorneys in order to better understand their role in relation to the college.
The student government was ambiguous as to whether they spoke to a lawyer about ASCOCC’s role in the college.
“We haven’t paid anything for a lawyer,” said Pierce. “You can call any lawyer and get 15 minutes worth of time.”
Gordon Price, the former Advisor to ASCOCC and current director of student life explained that “we’re all trying” to figure out ASCOCC’s role on the campus.
“Finally it’s reached a point where it needs to be clarified, solidified, so everybody knows what the situation is and we can move on from there,” said Price, “Nobody has clarification on it.”
The Funds, how are they dealt with?
ASCOCC’s constitution states that, “A student fee of $1.50 per credit hour up to and including 12 credit hours will be assessed during Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer terms. The student fee shall be disbursed by the ASCOCC council.”
“It was originally set up to help support the health center and other student purposes,” said Price, “Through those years it’s kind of evolved … other purposes have come up that can use that $1.50 fee for educational advances and educational missions.”
The funds ASCOCC acquires through student fee money are allocated to payroll and The Voice, student government’s monthly publication, as well as clubs, programs, and other projects.
Clubs and programs that are funded by ASCOCC must submit a financial request to the student government to be approved.
According to Pierce, ASCOCC is questioning whether Clubs’ and Programs’ budgets fall under the regulations of COCC since the funding is provided by ASCOCC.
“If they [clubs and programs] go out and pay and expect a reimbursement and the college sends it back to us and says, ‘no, we can’t pay that,’ … we don’t want to start the year with situations like that coming up,” said Pierce. “We shouldn’t be getting things back from the college saying, ‘well according to this college procedure we can only pay x amount of dollars for mileage or hotel.”
Clubs/Organizations, a separate entity?
According to the National Student Government Association, the purpose of a student government is to represent students as well as providing a number of services to students.
A student government also serves as a learning experience for aspiring individuals seeking a career in politics or government, and usually allocates funds from the student body.
ASCOCC defines itself as a student government but according to Terry Link, ASCOCC’s legislative coordinator, ASCOCC currently does not adhere to the college’s policies and procedures.
“ASCOCC is a separate entity.” said Link. “Are we or are we not subject to college policies and procedures, the college being a government entity… it says specifically that ASCOCC has elected to have student fees withheld from the students thereby those fees are not part of the college fund and are not subject to the college’s policies and procedures.”
Fiscal services, a service paid for by COCC, currently handles ASCOCC’s budget which is approved by Taran Underdal, ASCOCC’s new advisor, who is employed by the college.
Price explained that the college and ASCOCC work together even though roles have not been defined.
“Right now we kinda work together … on managing the money, providing that fiscal process for them,” said Price.
Price also explained that the services provided to ASCOCC might have to be reevaluated by the college and whether Clubs and Programs have to abide by COCC’s policies if ASCOCC is a separate entity.
“If they are a complete, separate entity that would be one of the things we’d have to take a look at. That would be in the best interest of the college and the student government to look at.”
OSU Cascades, how do they do it?
COCC has a symbiotic neighbor, Oregon State University – Cascades Campus. OSU Cascades provides degrees beyond the associates degree that COCC provides. It also houses a student government, the Associated Student of Cascade Campus.
College student governments generally work differently with their policies and their relation to the college. ASCC doesn’t deal with money at all, according to Andrew Davis, coordinator of student life at OSU Cascades. The money is managed by a fee committee, which is separate from the student government.
“So we’ve got the money handled by the student fee committee, which is five to seven students that apply and get faculty recommendations to serve on this committee. They just deal with the money,” said Davis. “They make sure that all the student fee money falls within those [OSU Cascade’s] guidelines.”
Andrew Davis explains the student government’s role at OSU saying that ASCC is, “a part of OSU. They’re really the student representation of OSU,” and that he, “very much view[s] ASCC as a component of OSU.”