ASG’s Reimbursement Amendment Is Unjust

Story By: Rampage Editorial

In a unanimous vote during its March 6 meeting, the Associated Student Government at Fresno City College passed a resolution to amend its bylaws and allow its members to seek financial reimbursement for “costs incurred while in the performance of duties.”  This is a first in the history of FCC student government.

The reimbursement fees will come from student representative fees and the ASG general funds. The amendment requires the executive vice president to determine “which account shall be deemed appropriate.” No one knows at the moment what portion of ASG funds this will represent. There is no statement in the resolution regarding whether qualifying expenses must be pre-authorized and by whom.

What we know is that the reimbursement amendment assigns funds paid by the student body to other students who are claiming a financial burden due to being members of ASG. While there are burdens associated with being on the student government, the student representatives clearly understood the requirements of the positions they occupy on behalf of fellow FCC students.

So what expenses are reimbursable? What types of duties performed by the ASG are beyond what one may reasonably ascribe as normal duties? What is even more troubling is that this amendment is vague and does not cover the details of what a student may be reimbursed for.  Additionally, the area covered by this amendment is too vast and clearly leaves room for possible abuse in the future.

What can be claimed? Where is the line crossed between acceptable expenses and unreasonable greed? These are questions that every FCC student should be asking of their representatives.

ASG is a student organization representing students. Our representatives should be enduring what the rest of the student body endures.  They should truly be representative of the body they represent.  If members of ASG can ask to be reimbursed for their parking passes, for example, other students should be able to seek the same.

Currently, students who serve on the ASG receive benefits that other students do not.  For one, some members of ASG receive staff parking privileges.  They also get priority registration for their classes.  Other FCC students do not have the same opportunities, and extending the benefits accorded ASG members could lead to two tiers of students – the ASG and the rest of us.

Is it right for student fees to be used to reimburse representatives for using their personal funds?  The answer should be “NO.”  Shockingly, the ASG justifies this move with a claim that “participation in student government and participatory government shall not be contingent upon economic ability.”  Equally, FCC students should not have to fund any students’ participation in student government.   Students who elect to serve on the ASG need to understand they will incur expenses or suffer loss of work hours. We all understand there are related expenses.  It is an unfortunate reality.

The student government does not have the right to ask for reimbursement of expenses at the cost of the very people that they claim to be advocating for. Especially given the present economic situation and the rising cost of attending college, this is not the time for an elite few to ask more from the rest of us.  Instead, the ASG should never lose sight of their responsibility to those they serve.  If there’s excess money in the general funds, that money should be funneled back to students, not members of the student government.

The ASG should explore options other than taking from student fees and the general funds. They should raise money like other student organizations. They could also appeal to the college alumni as well as local businesses.

Lastly, ASG leaders should consider what other students feel about this issue.  We are eager to hear our representatives justify receiving reimbursements when the rest of us can’t.