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Your money: who’s controlling it?

Cedar Goslin

Central Oregon Community College is the only community college in Oregon that gives student fees directly to the student government, according to Taran Underdal, advisor of COCC’s student government.
“We’re pro-student that way,” said Underdal.
At other colleges funding for student organizations, including student governments, is determined by employees of the college. At COCC, the Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College receive student fees that are part of COCC’s tuition costs, and they are responsible for deciding how that money will be spent and what clubs it will fun. After the ASCOCC drafts their budget, it is presented to a budget committee to be approved or altered.
The student fee system used by COCC’s student government is similar what would be used at a university, according to Underdal. She believes that giving funding directly to the student government benefits the student body more because they’ll know what students need and want.
“I believe if the administration had it, it would be more college initiatives, not student initiatives,” said Underdal.
Oregon State University- Cascades also gives student fee money directly to students, but the money is not controlled by the student government. At OSU-Cascades, student fee money is issued to a separate body of five to seven students that form the student fee committee. Every group that spends student dollars, including the Associated Students of Cascades Campus, submits their proposals to the student fee committee. Since they are not granting funds requests or managing money themselves (outside their own budget), the role of ASCC is pay attention to the needs of students, come up with solutions, and request the funding to provide those solutions, according to ASCC advisor Andrew Davis.
“It keeps both areas very clean,” said Davis. “You don’t have a group that’s coming up with solutions then funding them, which I think is just good practice.”
The existence of the student fee committee prevents ASCC from focusing funding on things that appeal to their own personal interests, according to Davis.
“There’s a conflict of interest when a group of seven students look at the campus, decides what they need, and then funds those needs,” said Davis.
Aside from preventing conflict of interest, Davis said that the student fee approach helps by creating a system of checks and balances, similar to the House and Senate of the United States government, as well as just putting more eyes on every issue.
The checks and balances system for the ASCOCC comes in the form of the budget committee, according to Underdal.
“The budget committee is our form of a student fee committee,” said Underdal.
Though they control the student fee funds and manage requests from other student organization, the ASCOCC does not decide on the money allocated to their own budget. Their budget is decided by the previous council members, as well as the salary of the six incoming council members.
Underdal believes that the student fee system used by ASCOCC gives students the experience they need in managing a budget and learning to prioritize funds. In 2011, the system was reviewed and the college decided that the system worked well for students and should stay in place.

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