ASUO President & Senate Approve Handover of EMU to Admin

J. Ellis #press release #campus #web exclusive


In a shocking collapse of student autonomy at UO, it appears that the EMU Student Union and its associated funding has been given over to administration control. Sources say that the decision to hand over $17 million of the I-Fee budget was reached by ASUO President Isaiah Boyd. A previous version of this release falsely stated that Boyd made the decision without Senate approval, but the minutes for the Jan. 29th meeting show that the Senate unanimously voted in favor of the new budget for the 2022-2023 year. Historically the UO administration has sought to gain control of the EMU’s prime real estate, but generations of student leadership have managed to maintain the space's autonomy under student control. Though student control of the space has declined as the administration has taken a more active role in the hiring of staff, three ASUO senators still hold positions on the EMU board. With the change to administrative control these elected ASUO positions will likely be eliminated.

Inexplicably, the release date of the Daily Emeraldstory revealing the transfer of the EMU and its budget to admin was delayed by almost two weeks from its finalization on January 29th. ASUO affiliates and politically active students expressed bewilderment and rage upon learning the news on February 8th. What can be done to reverse the deal or even learn the full extent of its impact is unknown at this time. The deal seems to have been rolled into the budget process for this year but senators aware of the initial proposal had insisted on conditions protecting funding for student clubs and other programs. What sources say is that these initial negotiations were ongoing when Senate President Isaiah Boyd revealed that the deal had already been finalized.

Recent SEIU Union negotiations have secured a pay raise for classified staff in the EMU. These routine labor negotiations have increased the EMU’s budget and created a shortfall in this year's I-fee funding model. The administration’s scheme to place the EMU’s $17 million budget under its control would supposedly relieve this shortfall. In truth, by dividing the I-Fee into two separate budget lines it can increase student activity fees above 5% without facing review by the state’s Higher Education Coordination Commission (HECC). Additionally, these fee increases would be implemented by the administration's TFAB committee, who also established the disastrous Guaranteed Tuition model designed to prevent budget review by the HECC. Most importantly, the act of putting the EMU under admin control is likely a part of a larger union busting strategy. Increased administration control over EMU employees is likely to result in degraded labor conditions and firings.

Students have struggled to understand how President Isaiah Boyd could have willingly ceded so much power to a comically corrupt university administration. At the height of the pandemic the administration put huge pressure on Boyd to spend $1.7 million in I-fee money on a problematic athletics ticket contract. Boyd sent out an SOS email to the entire student body and rallied a decisive backlash against administration pressure tactics and his professional handlers. The student senate then organized a comprehensive pandemic relief package for students and Boyd defended the proposal like a champ in front of an exasperated Board of Trustees. Never was it clearer that UO’s Nike athletics brand was the number one priority then at that Board of Trustees meeting as they condescendingly questioned Boyd. If Boyd was under pressure, he could have called on the student body to support him as he had done previously. If budget concerns were that grievous then a serious discussion should have taken place about revisiting the precedent of not funding the $1.7 million athletics ticket contract.

Editor's note: It is Insurgent policy to not target groups and demographics without power, of which most students are a part. The only exceptions to this policy are the ASUO President and the Student Trustee.

What has happened is that the largest asset that students control on campus has been given away. The implications of this are manifold and dire. Despite claims that the arrangement can be reversed in next year’s budget cycle, it is highly unlikely that once the building is in administration hands they will let it go. UO also has a toxic tradition of leasing property to Phil Knight. Once under his control he can commission non-union construction projects and then stick the university with luxury maintenance costs and a community overwhelmed by gentrification.

Outrage over the deal spilled over into ASUO’s Wednesday February 9th senate meeting. Gallery speakers took the floor to express their concerns and were met with bureaucratic obstinance. No further details about the EMU’s transfer to administrative control have been discovered at this time.


The Student Insurgent


Our initial press release implied that the budget decision was determined solely by ASUO President Isaiah Boyd. According to the Budget Bonanza Meeting notes, the ASUO Senate unanimously voted to approve the budget. This is contrary to initial sentiments shared with The Insurgent, but demonstrates that Boyd ultimately, to some extent, had Senate support. It appears that the Senate possessed at least some prior knowledge of the budget cut, but only offered slight pushback in the Jan 29th meeting that Boyd attended. It remains unclear to what extent the Senators were aware of the implications of the approval of this budget. There is no evidence that the Senators have been discouraged from speaking on the matter, though there is speculation that some may be reluctant to speak out due to the upcoming elections. This is a developing story and we will continue to update with accurate information as it progresses.