ASUCD Senate found guilty of inequitable financial treatment

ASUCD Senate found guilty of inequitable financial treatment

ASUCD Court mandates that senate correct policies

The ASUCD Senate has been found guilty of unfair and inequitable financial treatment of students, according to a ASUCD Court majority opinion released Feb. 10.

Article IV of the ASUCD Student Bill of Rights states that “[Students] have the right to receive fair and equitable financial treatment.” According to the court’s majority opinion over Rylan Schaeffer v. ASUCD Senate, referenced above, senate violated Article IV by only paying student instructors teaching environmental courses.

Senate currently allocates funds to pay two instructors that teach unit-bearing “98” courses on behalf of the Campus Center for the Environment (CCE), an ASUCD unit. These courses are required to have an environmental focus and are the only courses offered through the Association with paid student instructors.

“98” courses refer to flexible lower-division directed group studies that allow students to earn units for examining a subject not covered by regular courses.

Because there is currently no campus organization financially compensating students for teaching courses unrelated to the environment, the ASUCD Court deemed that the Association is unfairly providing advantages to students in majors directly related to the environment.

In concluding its majority opinion, the court offered the following mandate: “The Senate [shall] equalize pay to all students who teach a “98” class and who follow the proper procedure for its creation and structuring.”

It is unclear if the Association can afford to pay all students offering a “98” class. One option for senate is to stop paying the CCE instructors, according to recently resigned ASUCD Controller Rylan Schaeffer.

Schaeffer petitioned the Court on Jan. 28 after seeking equal financial treatment from the ASUCD Senate and Business and Finance Commission, respectively. Schaeffer is scheduled to teach a “98” course under the Department of Computer Science in Spring Quarter 2015.

Senator Amelia Helland, as a witness for the senate, argued that Schaeffer had not given senate enough time to meet his request.

“I expressed interest at the senate meeting and proceeded to follow-up by going to the Executive Office and talking about it,” Helland said. “I was fully prepared to work with whomever was trying to be involved.”

Schaeffer indicated that, despite Helland’s intentions, no bill was introduced.

The court found that Schaeffer’s course and the CCE courses were similar enough to deserve equitable financial treatment. According to its majority opinion, “Both the Petitioner and the teachers of the currently-funded courses teach a ‘98’ class and are held to similar, if not the same, standards for leading the class.” Both Schaeffer and Senate President Pro Tempore Robyn Huey, the senate’s representative in the hearing, agreed that Schaeffer and the CCE instructors had obtained their positions through similar processes.

Huey claimed that ASUCD does not have the “financial jurisdiction” to pay Schaeffer, stating, “Student-facilitated courses are under the jurisdiction of a policy created by the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI).” If anything, she claimed, the Department of Computer Science should pay Schaeffer.

At the beginning of the hearing, Schaeffer made it clear to the court that the legal issue at hand was not the real issue he was protesting.

“Everyone in ASUCD prioritizes their community above the interests of the Association,” Schaeffer said. “My entire career, I fought against this. I felt that we should prioritize the best interest of the Association, and students as a whole, rather than any individual community.”

Schaeffer elaborated in a statement released after the hearing that he believed he was disappointed that ASUCD does not build services that students want, because it is too busy dealing with symbolic issues.

“The fact that I have to fight my elected representatives to create a program that students want and will benefit from is the greatest tragedy,” Schaeffer said.