By Tory Hernandez
New statewide $1 student fee funds ASA
A new statewide $1 student fee will now fund the Arizona Students Association, a 18-member student lobbying group that represents all Arizona universities and branch campuses.
The fee will be collected from each of the 101,000 Arizona university students and will be used to fund ASA programs throughout the year.
The four ASA members from the University of Arizona are ASUA President Gilbert Davidson, former ASUA Senator Ryan Anderson, Brook Rosenbaum and Mark Rooney.
The fee was passed by a student referendum at the UA in the spring of 1996, but required approval by Arizona State University before it could be applied to tuition bills, Rosenbaum said.
One focus of the association will be a statewide push to increase voter registration, planned for the end of the fall semester.
Rooney said he hopes to register 5,000 students in two weeks on the UA campus, and the other universities are planning the same.
Rosenbaum is involved in a work-study program that involves creating jobs in private corporations. According to the proposal, the corporations will pay half the wage and the university would match the amount.
"I see this as a win-win situation because the students get help and the companies get workers at half price," Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum said ASA presented the proposal to the state Legislature previously, but lack of funds inhibited its passing. He said he plans to enlist corporate support for the bill and present it to the state Legislature soon.
Anderson is involved in the legislative procedures of ASA, setting up meetings with legislators, regents and chairs of government committees with issues of importance for students.
"We are the student organization with the closest contact with the Arizona Board of Regents," he said. "My focus is to establish contact with the state Legislature."
Anderson said one of ASA's goals is to get more students involved in the political process, and he looks to this year's board to establish a framework for other boards to follow.
ASA directors are meeting today with their central office staff in Phoenix to discuss some of the legal issues surrounding their alternative funding.
Anderson said they will also discuss how ASA's lobbying will be affected by Gov. Fife Symington's resignation and the designation of Secretary of State Jane Dee Hull as his successor.
Governors of the state become ex-officio members of the Arizona Board of Regents.
"It will be interesting to see if she is going to take on a more active role on the Board of Regents," Anderson said.
The new fee imposed on students will not increase ASA's budget because of the organization's $130,000 spending cap, said Christine Thompson, executive director of ASA. The cap was written into their new constitution, which was passed in November 1996. Last year's total operating budget was $127, 600 and this year's budget is figured at $128, 590, Thompson said.
Previously, ASA was funded through appropriations from the Arizona Board of Regents, but Rooney said it created a conflict of interest since ASA directors lobbied the regents.
Rooney said ASA is looking into investing money not spent into endowment funds that will mature in the future. He hopes to have the endowment in a trust by the end of October.
"Eventually we will have about $6 million to work with and we can start up all kinds of programs like scholarships and work study that come directly from student money," he said.
Rooney said the money may be divided between the universities and invested in each college's own foundation.