OUSC meeting featured Russi Q&A

Before turning to usual business, Oakland University Student Congress’s Monday meeting featured three guest speakers.

President Gary Russi opened with a presentation followed by a forum in which he answered students’ questions.

During a half-hour slideshow, Russi said he recognized tuition and OU’s future as the biggest student concerns.

“You can see that most of the money has gone directly or indirectly into the pockets of students,” Russi said.

With a minimum base cut of 3 percent and a 5 percent reduction in state funding, Russi said he’s not sure how future tuition will be affected because of two other key factors: student enrollment and the actual tuition rate.

He added that an increase is likely.

Russi also gave a summary of the progress he said OU has made during his tenure as president.

The rest of his presentation revolved around Vision 2020, a nine-component plan to grow OU in the next decade. Russi outlined core values such as stewardship and external community engagement, a target of 25,000 students and a research-intensive agenda. A complete list can be found at www.oakland.edu/2020.

He said his administration has a long-term goal of 4,000 students living on campus.

One of the last things Russi touched on before fielding questions was the OPTIONS case. He reiterated that the appeal is not specifically about Micah Fialka-Feldman, who is currently living in university housing.

“It’s not about an individual, this case is much, much larger,” Russi said. “This case is about the freedom of OU to decide who comes into the programs throughout the university.”


After concluding his presentation, Russi took questions from students

Asked what he felt was the most valuable project he was working on for students, Russi put co-curricular activities among the top.

“I think any activities that support living on this campus is very important,” Russi said.

Football was not at the top of his list.

“In present day terms … the idea of mounting a football program at Oakland University is out of the question,” Russi said, citing the expenses of it.

Legislator Michael Diedrich brought up the possibility of removing the sales tax from textbook sales.

Russi said he and Mary Beth Snyder, vice president of student affairs, are looking into it.

Russi again stated that the creation of a teacher liaison position isn’t up to him, but he supports the idea.

Student body president Kristin Dayag asked about having a percentage of the vending machine fund set aside for student programming.

The fund, which Russi said is typically $100,000, derives from a vending fee OU got every time a vending machine was used. He said Dayag’s proposal is “part of the discussion.”

Other questions included OU’s “You can afford this” slogan and whether Russi felt it was a good message.

“It’s not a branding campaign,” Russi said. “It is a specific campaign to communicate to (struggling) families.”

Russi urged students to get involved with the legislative process at all levels.

“I meet with student leaders all the time, that door is open, and the door is open to any of you,” Russi said.

LGBTQA garners support

Dean Julie Voelck and communication Professor Shea Howell also appeared as guest speakers. They spoke on behalf of Tim Larrabee, chair of LGBTQA Employee Resource Group, saying they’d be submitting a request to the board of trustees to gain equal benefits for OU employees with same-sex employees.

Voelck asked students to support their efforts and Howell urged OUSC to pass a resolution demonstrating their support.

Legislature changes

Joshua Solomon, a trustee to the center of multicultural initiatives, was conditionally approved as a legislator, pending a validation of signatures. Legislator James Kaminski was approved to join the scholarship committee.

Ryan Brandon was removed from the legislature due to a lack of attendance.

Alejandro Herrera, a junior, became Student Program Board events chair.

Legislator Andrew Gustafsson joined the Student Activities Funding Board.

OUSC budgets

The administrative assistant budget was passed. The $2,000 will go toward refreshments at OUSC meetings where guest speakers are present.

Legislator Anthony Ivone sought to also boost the elections committee budget to $5,000. Bill Hamilton, elections committee chair, said the current budget of $1,000 is not sufficient, citing the costs running two debates and hosting a “meet and greet” catered by Chartwells with DJ entertainment.

“Why not spend more money and try to increase student interest?” Ivone said.

Nick McCormick, OUSC public relations agent, said about $2,500 was spent last year, but a lot of that was spent from their PR budget. Hamilton said leftover funds would go back to OUSC, which currently has a rollover of about $54,000. The budget will be voted on at the next meeting.

Possible tuition forum

CFO John Beaghan might be attending a future OUSC meeting to discuss tuition. Dayag expressed hope that tuition would either freeze or be lowered.