ASI gets into the swing of things

[From left to right] President Arthur Montejano, Executive Vice President Parmita Choudhury, Senate Recorder Katrina Alaniz, Vice President of Finance Rebecca Rosengarten and Vice President of External Affairs Sean Kiernan. Rogue Morales / The Collegian

[From left to right] President Arthur Montejano, Executive Vice President Parmita Choudhury, Senate Recorder Katrina Alaniz, Vice President of Finance Rebecca Rosengarten and Vice President of External Affairs Sean Kiernan.
Rogue Morales / The Collegian

Fresno State’s student government met Wednesday afternoon to discuss new campus policy and voted to approve new positions and financial decisions, with at least one vote that caused a bit of confusion.

Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), is an organization made up of 15 senators and four executive officers, such as President Arthur Montejano.

The first guest speakers gave a presentation  on HigherOne, the new financial services company contracted through the university.

University Controller Anthony Forestiere said previously that HigherOne was chosen to streamline distribution of financial aid and other funds to students while lowering costs through the elimination of paper and postage to mail checks.

While not a bank, per se, the company does distribute debit cards and allows students to use their financial aid as a form of checking account.

Prior to the contract, Forestiere said 40 percent of students received financial aid through checks. Of those students, Forestiere said many lacked bank accounts and would cash their checks somewhere other than a bank, losing money in the process.

“Students now have a choice,” Forestiere said. “They can still receive a check, direct deposit, or sign up for an account with HigherOne.”

After the presentation was over, ASI was invited to ask questions.

ASI Sen. Neill O’Brien, who expressed opinions in most discussions at the meeting, took the opportunity to ask about the finances behind the decision.

“What amount of money was paid to participate in this program?” O’Brien asked.

Associate Vice President for Financial Services Clinton Moffitt responded that approximately $4,000 is paid a year for HigherOne’s services.

“We’ve replaced printing checks and postage on checks,” Moffitt said. “We send 4,000 to 7,000 checks a semester. So looking at check costs, postage, and envelopes is more than offset by what we’re paying for this service.”

Concerns were also raised by ASI Sen. Morgan Perry that if the card issued by HigherOne was stolen, personal information could end up in the wrong hands.

“If the card is lost or stolen it works like any other bank account,” Forestiere responded.

Forestiere explained that only students who sign up for the account through HigherOne would have to order a replacement card and that no personal information is associated with the card itself.

Following the presentation Institutional Compliance Administrator Brittany Grice and Manager of Administration for Human Resources Robert Murphy explained the updates to campus policy regarding sexual violence, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Grice explained to ASI that Executive Order 1074, a CSU-wide update of policy, deals with Title IX procedures regarding the reporting of sex-based acts and the standardization of reporting policy across the CSU system.

Title IX is primarily known for assuring gender equality in university sports, but also contains policy on sex-based incidents. Under the new order, Grice said there was more responsibility on the community at large to report such incidents.

“It’s kind of heightened the need for all university members of this community to report,” Grice said. “That obligates you, your constituents, employees and any member of the university community to report any act that he or she perceives as being sex-based in respect to discrimination, harassment or retaliation.”

Grice also highlighted confidentiality concerns behind the new reporting system.

“You and your constituents should know that once an incident is reported to an employee of the university they are under an obligation bound by the order to report the incident and not reserve confidentiality,” he said.

However, in cases of rape or other highly serious offenses, Grice said there were options to remain confidential.

“The university’s taking all reasonable steps it possibly can to prevent any instances from occurring,” Grice said.

Any student that feels they have been the victim of sexual discrimination, harassment, violence or retaliation are encouraged to contact Janice A. Parten, Title IX coordinator for the university at 559-278-2364.

After a round of questioning, ASI continued with its agenda and approved various committee appointments that included non-ASI student appointments to at-large committees.

The last item on the agenda caused a bit of confusion. ASI was approached with the decision to sponsor a table at the Top Dog Alumni Awards ceremony. A motion was introduced by Sen. Perry to sponsor two “Bronze Sponsor” tables at the event, which would have cost a total of $3,500.

Over ten minutes of discussion took place where senators raised concerns about whether or not enough ASI members would attend and the costs behind the sponsorship.

“It would be a legacy of sorts,” ASI Coordinator Tara Powers-Mead said while explaining the decision.

O’Brien attempted to make a motion to table the discussion until a representative from the event could make a presentation to ASI. However, that would have put approval of the sponsorship beyond the event’s registration deadline.

Ultimately, ASI voted against the motion and consequently would not sponsor a table at the event. Regular reports from the executive officers followed, and the meeting was adjourned.

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