Eric Ercanbrack, Tobey Veenstra, Kirsteen Wolf
At a three day Oregon Community College Student Associations retreat, some student government members drank alcohol, skipped sessions from the conference and questionably spent allocated student fee money.
All six members in attendance used student fee money to pay for at least one meal and five rented individual hotel rooms at the Vernonia Inn, despite food and lodging being included in the $120 per person registration fee. Two of the hotel rooms offered Jacuzzis.
Some left the conference to go to the Oregon Coast, twice.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted by their behavior,” said Jenni Jackson, the advisor to
the Associated Student Government of Rogue Community College. “Their performance wasn’t the best… they weren’t at the trainings, most of them just left.”
The student leadership retreat happened before the legal struggle with the college regarding fiscal accountability and issues surrounding the Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College’s autonomy from the college.
Brenda Pirece and Terry Link from the executive council of Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College attended the conference as well as Dustin Moore and Travis Peden from the general council. Two honorary members of ASCOCC also attended: Carl Rockwell and Chris March. The advisor to ASCOCC, Taran Underdal also went to the conference. John MacAulay and Matt Coito did not attend.
Some members of student government drank hard alcohol at the campground in view of middle school students. They were approached by Lane Community College’s associate dean of student affairs Barbara Delansky in regards to their alcohol use.
“The purpose of the event was not to stand behind your pickup truck and drink,” recounted Delansky who attended the conference with students. “Their actions could have repercussions,” she said in regards to children in the vicinity.
Neither Travis Peden , community and college relations coordinator, Dustin Moore ,budget coordinator nor Taran Underdal, ASCOCC advisor, were drinking with the others.
While there are no legal issues surrounding the choice to bring hard alcohol to a leadership retreat, there is the question of judgement.
“I really feel like it was their own personal party,” said Jackson.
Bringing alcohol to an event that is paid for by students seemed wrong she explained.
“For this particular conference, there was no policy against alcohol,” said Brenda Piece ASCOCC’s marketing and advertising coordinator who declined to say whether or not she brought alcohol to the event.She did state that if there was drinking going on that it was “no where near children.”
The campground was shared with the Larry Steele Basketball Camp for middle school children.
“It was the wrong place, wrong time,” said Tracy Weimer, the communications director for the Associated Students of Lane Community College.
ASCOCC members skipped sessions at the conference and instead took two trips to Seaside, an Oregon coast town 36 miles away from the conference site.
OCCSA retreat is a three day, five session conference for student government members from 17 community colleges across Oregon. The retreat focuses on community work, leadership skills and team building. This year it was held in at Cedar Ridge Conference Center at Vernonia Oregon on Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 .
The conference explored numerous issues during their workshops/sessions ranging from recreation,sustainability, lobbying, traveling on a budget and power and privilege.
Mileage and per diem expenses were paid through student government accounts.
“They left and went to Seaside when the whole thing was just starting,” said Moore.
Members missed the first session and a forum which took place while the group was on the coast. Other sessions were missed as well.
Food and Lodging included
Food and lodging was included as part of the package for the retreat. It cost $120 for each of the six members to attend the conference. Five of the six members in attendance also chose not to stay at the conference lodging for a second night and instead rented five hotel rooms, two with jacuzzis, nearby.
“Some people went into town because of the sleeping conditions… they didn’t keep juice and coffee and tea out all day,” said Kim Nosenzo, student senator for the Associated Student Government of Columbia Gorge Community College. “It was hard to sleep.”
According to Pierce the accommodations were horrible: beds covered in plastic,one working toilet in the women’s restroom,bunk beds packed in close together. Pierce likened the accommodations to a “sixth grade outdoor school.”
Photos of the cabin can be found on the cedar ridge conference center at http://www.visitcedarridge.com.
Due to the density of fellow students in the rooms and the noise, it was difficult to sleep.
“I didn’t sleep the first night at all,” Pierce said.
“This was the kind of conditions that I could put up with back when I was 12,13,14 because that’s what I would be expecting, but now as an adult I expect to be treated like an adult especially when I am going to be working for an organization,” said Carl Rockwell, honorary ASCOCC member.
Peden and Taren Underdal, the advisor to ASCOCC stayed behind. All other members stayed in their own hotel rooms for the second night.
The cost of five rooms was quoted by the Vernonia Inn at $419.75 in addition to the $840.00 that was spent on the cost of the retreat. Student fees also paid for the additional hotel rooms.
“They got their own hotels even though lodging was provided,” said Jackson.
Members also used the ASCOCC credit card to buy food at a restaurant instead of having their meals at the conference. There were more meals eaten outside of the conference but until records show otherwise, only one was confirmed to be paid for with student fees. The Broadside has requested the documents related to the Vernonia trip.
ASCOCC have no other trips scheduled according to Underdal.
• Four members of the ASCOCC council, two honorary members and the ASCOCC advisor attended the conference.
• Student government members brought alcohol, and were drinking alcohol near middle-school children who were attending a basketball camp.
• Student government members were confronted about the alcohol.
• Some ASCOCC members left the retreat to go to Seaside on the Oregon Coast and went back to the coast for a second time.
• The $120 dollar per person conference registration fee included lodging and meals.
• Five ASCOCC members rented five hotel rooms, two of the rooms had Jacuzzis. A hotel representative quoted the cost of similar rooms at $79.95 per night for no jacuzzi and $89.95 per night for a room with a jacuzzi. ASCOCC students likely received a discount on those rates.
• Members left the campgrounds to use ASCOCC accounts—funded by student fee money— to buy at least one meal.
You may contact Eric Ercanbrack at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tobey Veenstra at email@example.com, and Kirsteen Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org