SGA passes changes to its bylaws, restructures funding process
By Soren Colstrup
SGA members discussed changes to their bylaws, which would recategorize student-run organizations into five groups based on campus involvement, size, and other factors, during their Dec. 11 meeting.
President Matty Bennet and Vice President Abby Salvucci provided details of the changes that would be made to the SGA bylaws.
Bennet said, “What we are presenting today is a grouping system, which will remove titles like clubs or organizations. Each group will now be known as a student organization from here on out.”
Salvucci explained, “Our reason for the change is that it will fight the issue of overspending. We’ve had to dip into reserves and reach out to other offices for aid, which can be embarrassing for us if we can’t budget our own money.
“This grouping will help us because we no longer put ourselves in a situation where we are more likely to overspend. This grouping will help [organizations] receive an allocated amount at the beginning of the year, so they have to be responsible with their own funds – instead of us,” she said.
According to Salvucci, one goal of the new “data-driven” grouping system is to limit bias. “It is no longer SGA’s job to decide who can and cannot have money,” she added.
She said, “We now have over 50 clubs on campus, which means if we do not change our funding process, it will cause a lot of mayhem,” she said.
According to the SGA constitution, a “Group One organization” provides a service to the University and has high visibility on campus. It must also be financially supported by student fees and have a reliance on the University for physical space and/or professional staff devoted to the group.
It must also must be consistently active on campus. Organizations affected by the change include The Gatepost, SUAB, WDJM, and SGA.
An organization meets the criteria for Group Two if it has high visibility on campus and hosts high-risk events. Group Two organizations will plan and execute “multiple” large-scale events, day and overnight trips, and work with organizations to collaborate and host events.
They are normally funded in the range of $10,000-30,000 in previous academic years. Organizations affected by the change include Dance Team, Hilltop Players, Black Student Union, Ski and Snowboard Club, M.I.S.S., and Brother2Brother.
Organizations meet the criteria for Group Three if they are moderately visible on campus and have moderate-risk events. Their events may require some event or travel staff and must plan and execute a limited number of events each semester.
Group Three organizations were funded in the range of $2,500-10,000 in previous academic years, but funding is not the only criterion for determining placement in groups Three and Four.
An organization meets the criteria for Group Four if it has lower visibility on campus and hosts low-risk events. No travel or event staff are required, since only a few events are planned and executed each year on campus. They will be funded in the range of $1-2,500.
Organizations meet the criteria for Group Five if they are newly reactivated or formed groups and formation or reactivation occurred after “organization placement and allocations.” Group Five organizations must have low-risk activities and host limited-to-no planned events.
Group Five organizations are funded solely from the SATF Unallocated budget due to the lack of funds in their Class and Club accounts.
The changes to the bylaws were proposed and discussed.
Senate motioned to accept the proposed changes to the bylaws, which passed.
Additionally, Senate also heard six funding requests.
Art Club President Nick Carlson presented a previously tabled request for funding for a club trip to The Armory Show in New York City.
Carlson said, “The request of funding would cover busing, a two-night stay in a hotel, and show tickets all day on Saturday.”
SGA passed a motion to allocate $5,794.79, which will cover everything from the initial request, except the show tickets.
The Gatepost requested funding for their annual College Media Association trip, which will take place March 11-14.
Editor-in-Chief of The Gatepost, Nadira Wicaksana, said, “The request for $7,866 from the travel and conference budget would help pay for the trip, but we will fund the rest of the trip with our own budget.”
SGA allocated the full amount to The Gatepost.
The Wildlife Club requested $1,509.79 for its annual wildlife conference.
Wildlife Club President Gabriella Suazo said, “The funding will help pay for the trip. There will be various workshops that teach skills that we will use in the field if we become wildlife professionals.”
SGA allocated the full amount to Wildlife Club.
Fashion Club requested $2,250 for their annual bus trip to New York City during New York Fashion Week.
Fashion Club Vice Treasured Kara Swanson said, “It’s open to all students. We purposely planned it around Fashion Week because we thought it would be a good time for anyone who is interested in fashion.
“This year, we will be charging $10 per ticket, and we will be taking one bus to save costs,” she said.
SGA allocated the full amount to Fashion Club.
Anime Club requested $2,890 for their annual trip to Anime Boston.
Anime Club President Kyle Bunker said, “There are a lot of different things to do, but typically, we will learn about Japanese culture and talk to industry experts.”
SGA allocated the full amount to Anime Club.
Pride Alliance requested $2,250 for a trip to a transgender-friendly event in Boston.
Pride Alliance President Madison Bruno said, “The convention will have artist vendors and panels for transgendered individuals and their allies.”
SGA allocated the full amount to Pride Alliance.
During open forum, Student Trustee Olivia Beverlie said, “I know a number of the commuters were frustrated with how school was delayed and then cancelled after they had already driven to campus. It puts a lot of people in danger by being on the roads when you shouldn’t be.”
SGA members also discussed the lack of shovels in parking lots for students to use during the previous week’s snow days.
Senator Jake Maradian said, “It’d be really great to see some more shovels in the lots before we have another snowstorm. One shovel for each lot seems a bit low to me, considering the number of cars.”
Bennet ended the meeting with a detailed and heartfelt acknowledgment of the hard work of SGA this semester.
He said, “I want to say how incredibly proud I am of all of you. We have worked so hard, and all of you have done an amazing job this semester by exceeding my expectations for what I thought SGA could do.
“I could not be more proud to be leading such a great room of leaders,” he said. “Thank you.”
[Editor’s note: Members of The Gatepost presented at the meeting. Nadira Wicaksana is Editor-in-Chief of The Gatepost.]