ASUW Passes Bill to Update Registered Student Organization Funding, Suspension Policy
The Associated Students of the University of Wyoming passed a bill during their meeting Tuesday night that updates the policies that dictated the suspension of Turning Point USA’s UW chapter, along with a number of other Registered Student Organizations.
In December, Turning Point was suspended for violating terms of the ASUW Finance Policy and was prevented from seeking further funding during the suspension. ASUW said Turning Point violated policies on how to advertise and host an event that was sponsored by ASUW when they brought conservative speaker Dennis Prager to campus in November.
ASUW President Ben Wetzel said the finance policy was updated in April 2017 and gave the Senate the authority to suspend a group from being eligible for funding. Wetzel said Turning Point was the first group to violate the policies since they were installed. Wetzel said a few other RSO’s were suspended at the time as well.
The suspension received criticism from Turning Point USA, who said the move was political and appealed the decision.
Now, ASUW passed a bill that would reorganize their finance policy and amend their Registered Student Organization suspension decisions.
Senate Bill #2593 Revision of Article III of the ASUW Finance Policy and Amendment to RSO Suspension Decisions overhauled the language in the funding policy to make them clearer for RSO’s to understand, Wetzel said.
Wetzel said although RSO’s are responsible for being aware of the finance policy and following its rules, Senate Bill #2593 took responsibility for the fact that the finance policy was at times confusingly written.
“Our policies should be written and understandable by everyone, not just ourselves. I think at times we get so ingrained in wordsmithing and language we leave policy that’s not readable and useable to the average user and particularly with the RSO Funding board, where we are interacting with hundreds if not thousands of students a year,” Wetzel said. “Having that information clearly spelled out is, to me, very important.”
Wetzel said the bill acknowledges that over the years, ASUW has added too many piecemeal and quick-fix changes to the finance policy for each issue that arose, making the document long and confusing.
“It turned it into a convoluted and difficult to understand document,” Wetzel said. “So this was, more than anything, a major overhaul of organization and then minor areas of content to make sure that anyone from President [Laurie] Nichols all the way down to your average student can walk through that finance policy section for RSO’s from step one all the way to the end, and know that they are going to be following the rules and complying with our policies fairly.”
Wetzel said Senate Bill #2593 was precipitated by an internal audit of ASUW’s RSO Funding Board after the suspension of Turning Point USA and two other student organizations. Wetzel said the audit revealed alarming numbers regarding finance policy compliance. He said there was a section of the funding policy that all 18 of the RSO’s that received funding the previous semester failed to meet compliance for.
The bill also updates ASUW’s suspension policy and differentiates between minor and major infractions and stipulates that RSO’s who have been suspended must attend a meeting about their suspension.
“It was kind of a middle-ground clean slate,” Wetzel said. “Those RSO’s that had violated the finance policy in the fall semester this year, which includes Turning Point USA along with a number of other organizations, I believe 10 or 11 other organizations – all of them are notified now under our new rules that they are on probation and they have to come in and do a face-to-face meeting with our business manager as well as with our director of RSO relations.”
The offending RSO’s must walk through the finance policy again and sign a contract stating they are aware of the terms of their suspension.
The meeting was attended by State legislators. Wetzel said Rep. Bo Biteman, R-Sheridan, Rep. Scott Clem, R-Campbell and Rep. Mike Gierau, D-Teton County were part of the gallery.