Logjammed: The ASUPS Payment Dysfunction and Its Impacts on Its Employees

By Jack Leal

  People on campus employed by ASUPS, particularly those in the ASUPS Medias,  have experienced extended delays in receiving their payment contracts. Although ASUPS began addressing the issue recently, the holdup resulted in months of wage uncertainty for student media workers and concerns about ASUPS’s efficacy. 

  ASUPS and the University cite challenges the current student government faces. Pinpointing the issue is complicated by the fact that student finance issues are managed between ASUPS, the Office of Finance, and the Division of Student Affairs. This complexity creates hurdles for students, reports Administrative Support Coordinator Theresa Williams-Chow, which “don’t serve the students trying to participate in student governance, and it doesn’t serve the students as a whole.”

 According to the Vice President of Student Affairs, Sara Comstock, ASUPS is almost entirely run by students and values independence and autonomy. It also handles and allocates nearly a quarter million dollars. Working with this money requires advising from staff in multiple departments. It’s a complicated process. Even so, no one is pretending that the machine is running smoothly. 

  Robin Breedlove, ASUPS Operations Coordinator, told The Trail,  “If we were a business right now, we could consider ourselves in trouble; we don’t want to be bankrupt.” To her, ASUPS’s troubles aren’t strictly financial. “I’m seeing the trouble of goodwill. I’m seeing the trouble of our brand, and what we’re actively doing is working to rebrand ourselves and to refresh the idea of ASUPS as a student-run independent organization,” she said. 

  Internally, ASUPS and the University’s decision-makers struggle – along with most groups on campus – with communication and deadlines regarding contracts, club reimbursements, and other governing tasks. Breedlove says, “If everybody were to meet the deadlines and do exactly as they were supposed to, then we could identify some cogs and glitches in the system. In all honesty, some missed deadlines have happened on all sides of everybody’s finances.” Essentially, she says, everybody from all sides has “bitten off more than they could chew” 

  The conversation surrounding how to improve this system has brought up one solution that some may find controversial: combine ASUPS and the Division of Student Affairs. However, according to both ASUPS and Student Affairs leaders, this is easier said than done and could come with some downsides. 

ASUPS President Chloé Pargmann explains, “Recently, our lawyers and insurance said that students and ASUPS shouldn’t be in charge of clubs, so we’re trying to make a position to interlink the two.” Because Student Affairs is run by the University, Pargmann, and Comstock worry about what is in each department’s best interest. Pargmann says, “What may be best for the University may not be the best for ASUPS.”  She continues, “If we were connected, and if there’s something that the students would advocate for, and the University doesn’t, ASUPS would lose that authority.” However, Pargman clarifies that “ASUPS still has the ultimate say” and is “still in charge of yearly budget allocation.” 

  Regarding media branch contract payments, Pargmann urged student media workers not to feel singled-out, since ASUPS officials’ payments have also been backlogged. “I just don’t want people to think we’re making sure we get paid and don’t care about other people. It took us like three months to get paid, so it’s a delay for everybody.”