ASMSU: Looking ahead

ASMSU wrapped up the 2013-2014 academic year with a series of changes, from organization changes in classified staff to the swearing in of the new senate and executive team.

For the upcoming year, ASMSU will be led by President Destini French and Vice President Jordan Garceau. French and Garceau were elected by the students March 5, and sworn into office at the final senate meeting of the year on April 17, 2014. At the same meeting, the new senators took office as well and elected their senate leadership.

Senate leadership, consisting of a president and vice president, are senators who are elected into their positions by fellow senators. In the upcoming year, the senate will be led by Senate President Dana Dale from the College of Agriculture and Senate Vice President Billy Dove from the College of Letters and Science.

The senate president, with assistance from the senate vice president, runs the weekly senate meetings which follow Robert’s Rules and Orders.

Dove discussed a few responsibilities that come with the position, “The role that I see the senate leadership playing is facilitators more than anything,” said Dove.

Additionally, the senate president and vice president act as leaders for other senators and help them put their ideas into action. “We facilitate those ideas while keeping the focus of the senate driven towards kind of one goal: making sure the organization is unified in their efforts and serving the students,” said Dove.

The new senate will jump right into the fall 2014 semester resolving budget issues that arose with the reorganization of ASMSU classified staff at the end of the spring 2014 semester. The changes affected both the legal and administration budgets. In previous years, ASMSU had its own attorney. Moving forward, ASMSU will outsource legal services. The organization is currently in the process of finding attorneys in Bozeman who will be ready to meet the legal needs of students. Additionally, ASMSU decreased its number of office staff from four to three.

Last year, ASMSU was faced with a unique budgeting situation in that they needed to approve two budgets: one which factored in the Board of Regents passing a new Outdoor Recreation fee, and one which operated as if the fee did not pass. The Senate passed the latter budget before they were aware of ASMSU’s organizational changes; therefore, that budget could not reflect those changes. The other budget did account for the organizational changes.

For a fee increase such as the Outdoor Recreation fee, students must vote in favor of it, and then it must go to the Board of Regents for approval. ASMSU expected the Board of Regents to consider the fee over the summer, but the vote has been postponed until November. Consequently, ASMSU must operate on a budget that does not include the new fee — the budget that did not account for the organizational changes.

As dictated by the ASMSU Constitution, the senate has the final say in budget matters. Therefore, ASMSU must wait until fall when the senate is in session. Current and former senators have been notified of the situation and given the opportunity to provide their input. The new senate is preparing to approve a modified budget during their first meeting of the academic year. In the meantime, French and Garceau must create their executive recommendation, which will be followed with a finance board recommendation.

Despite facing so many changes, ASMSU will continue to operate in a manner to try and best serve the students of MSU. “I think it’s a good opportunity this year to move forward and establish ourselves as an organization that really represents the students and has the ability to get things done,” said Dove.