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Student government breaks up with Cascade Adventures

Two students make a heart with their hands while on a trip with Cascade Adventures.

Tobey Veenstra

The Broadside

In June, Jeffrey Myers, the Coordinator of outdoor recreation programs at Oregon State University Cascades, contacted Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College about funding for Cascades Adventures, receiving an affirmative response from Terry Link, ASCOCC’s budget coordinator at the time.

In August however, Myers received an email from Taran Underdal, ASCOCC’s advisor, stating that ASCOCC would not be funding Cascades Adventures leaving program leaders and COCC students wanting to participate frustrated.

Cascades Adventures is designed to provide the campus community an opportunity to participate in outdoor activities, according to their page on the OSU Cascades website. The program has been traditionally funded by OSU Cascades with half of the budget being covered by ASCOCC to accommodate the participating COCC students.

With the funding from ASCOCC being cut, Cascades Adventures will only be available to OSU Cascades students, preventing COCC students from participating#.

“That’s what’s frustrating to me,” said Myers. “As far as I’m concerned [Cascades Adventures] should be open to COCC students as well. That’s part of our mission.”

Faculty members at COCC have expressed their concerns with ASCOCC’s decision as well.

“As a faculty,” said Tim Peterson, a health and human performance instructor at COCC and the founder of Cascades Adventures, “I was rather distressed because it will have an effect on the students that regularly go and to new students that could benefit from it.”

Other faculty members have heard reactions to the decision from students in their classes.

“Questions that came up from students were, ‘have they cut funding for other clubs or programs?’ or ‘have they released any statement about it?’” said Aaron Lish, a health and human performance instructor.

“I have no ideas as to the whys,” said Lish. “I know that this year there is a high enrollment at COCC, and when you figure the enrollment makes up their (ASCOCC members’) salaries, I would think that they would be rolling in money.”

Nic Reed, a COCC student who is also a trip leader for Cascades Adventure, was disappointed about not being able to participate in the program, but was mostly disappointed in ASCOCC.

“There’s a large section of the student body that likes having the opportunity to go on these adventures,” said Reed. “It’s astounding that the student government is behaving this way … They’re not representing their constituents, they’re representing themselves.”

ASCOCC’s budget last year was “estimated at around $286,000,” said Reed, who imagined that the student government should have enough money to fund the program.

Brenda Pierce, ASCOCC’s marketing and advertising coordinator, however, said, “we (ASCOCC) don’t have it in the budget at all, we had to cut back.”

ASCOCC members also considered the program’s projected budget disproportionate to the other clubs and programs’ allocated budgets considering the small amount of students who participate in Cascades Adventure.

“They felt like they were spending $5,000 (the budget Myers projected to ASCOCC for Cascades Adventures) on only a handful of students,” said Underdal. “We needed to see who’s actually utilizing that.”

Because many of the participants of Cascades Adventures are dual-enrolled, students taking classes at OSU Cascades and COCC, ASCOCC members were not sure if spending COCC student fees on the program would be considered an equal half of the budget.

“I don’t know if student fees are the most appropriate way to fund the program,” said Underdal. “[Jeff Myers] was asked to track the students who were regularly attending the (Cascades) Adventures to see how many were COCC students.”

Myers said he was not sure he could do that “because of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations.”

Underdal said “there are ways” to get the information without going against FERPA regulations.

According to Underdal, ASCOCC has not made any final decision on funding for Cascades Adventure, and that “ASCOCC didn’t say they wouldn’t fund them.”

COCC students still willing to participate in Cascades Adventure are encouraged “to reach out to ASCOCC,” said Underdal, an outlook Myers also held.

“At this point I’m leaving it in the students’ hands,” said Myers. “I hope that students step up and demonstrate to ASCOCC, or the powers that be, what they want.”

Cascades Adventures will be hosting trainer courses and trip leader trainings this month, activities essentially designed for the entire OSU Cascades and COCC community, according to the Cascades Adventure page on the OSU Cascades website.

“It (Cascades Adventures) has never been at any time open to only trainers or leaders,” said Peterson. “It’s open to everyone. It’s for building a community, which is vital to the college.”

You may contact Tobey Veenstra at tveenstra@cocc.edu

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1 COMMENT

  1. Looks like once again ASCOCC has decided to cut funding for a well liked program on campus. They are complaining about not having the funds for it but they have the largest budget they have ever had this year due to increased enrollment. I’m sure they wouldn’t consider cutting their salaries or stop hiring friends and family. This shows once again that ASCOCC needs to have better oversight on its budget and that other voices and people need to be involved in the budget making decision process.

    Great story Tobey, great reporting, solid.

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