ASI Leaves Funding in Students' Hands
April 6, 2005 2:56 PM
The 23-member Associated Students Inc. board of directors controls an annual budget of student funds supporting everything from extracurricular programs and student organizations to college departments.
Each SF State student pays a $42 student body association fee as part of their registration costs. The fee goes to the ASI, a nonprofit corporation that serves as the student government. Revenue is gathered from registration fees, interest on ASI savings accounts and money generated from some of ASI’s programs, generating a roughly $3 million annual budget.
But many students are unaware of what ASI is, what it does, or how their $84 a year is spent. Only 4,257 students, or 14.7 percent of the total student body, voted in the recent ASI elections to determine who will govern the spending of this budget. This was, however, a record turnout compared to previous years, which tended to average about 2,500 votes.
Horace Montgomery, leadership development coordinator for ASI, attributes this increase to efforts to increase awareness about ASI among students, but said that apathy and lack of exposure are still the biggest problems.
“Students don’t even know that ASI is their student government,” said Montgomery. “Students need to realize they are the people who are deciding where to spend your money.”
“I think they need to advertise more, and they should get more involved on campus with the actual students instead of just the bureaucracy,” Waitsches said. “It would be nice if they would post something that showed people exactly what they’re paying for.”
ASI is a student-run organization that uses its revenue to support university departments and fund programs aimed at assisting students and bettering extra-curricular life. Programs offered by ASI include the Early Childhood Education Center, which offers childcare for student parents, the Women’s Center, which provides support for women’s issues, a legal resource center, and a program called Project Rebound, which helps formerly incarcerated students enroll at the university. ASI also funds SF State’s performing arts and lectures programs.
The ASI also appropriates money to various departments to fund activities, events and supplies, and helps the university pay for campus projects that will benefit students. For instance, ASI helped the university pay for the concrete SF State pillar at the entrance to campus on 19th Avenue.
Executive Director of ASI Peter Koo said the organization is looking for ideas to “promote ASI more visibly” and emphasize the fact that students must get involved to assure that their money is being spent in desirable ways.
“Voting for someone on the ballot is only the first step,” said Koo. “In order to hold them accountable, you have to come to the meetings to find out what they’re doing. Just because you voted for someone doesn’t mean they are going to represent you.”
The ASI board of directors consists of 19 elected students and four appointed non-students. The elected board members include the president and CEO, vice presidents of internal and external affairs, the vice president of finance, two representatives of the student body at large, a representative from each academic college, and one representative from each student class – freshman, sophomore, junior, senior and graduate.
The four non-voting appointed board members include two representatives from the university, appointed by President Robert Corrigan, a representative of the teaching faculty and a representative of the academic senate. These appointed members do not vote.
Elected student board members serve one-year terms, starting on the first Monday in May. Student board members must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and be enrolled in six units per semester. Graduate student representatives must maintain three units.
Student board members are paid for their participation in ASI. The president and CEO receives $950 a month before taxes. Executive positions such as vice presidents recieve $800 and month, and representatives get $500.
Students are known to put in as many as 40 hours a week into ASI affairs, but some put in far less, according to Montgomery.
"How much work you do depends on how much you want to accomplish," said Montgomery. “If you just want to skate through and not change anything, it won’t take up much time.”
Elected students are given the opportunity to attend training sessions during the summer before their terms. While the training sessions are optional, students will not receive pay if they do not attend.
Training includes lessons in parliamentary procedure, finance, university politics and specific university departments.
Montgomery, who leads the training sessions, said training is thorough but could always be more extensive. He also provides provide further assistance and training throughout the year.
“My job is to be at the student's service,” said Montgomery. “I’m always there to assist them with their needs.”
Chris Jackson was elected to be student body president and CEO of ASI in the recent election. Jackson said he is well prepared and looking forward to his duties as president.
“It’s a gift and a curse,” said Jackson. “There is a lot of responsibility, but you get to change the lives of people on campus.”
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