SAC chair Sophia Behnia: Georgetown’s newest aspiring kleptocrat

The Student Activities Commission has shaken off GUSA’s checks on its power, so last week GUSA was trying to reassert one of those checks–its right to appoint SAC’s chairperson. Instead of the ad hoc system where the outgoing chair chooses their successor, the chair would be selected by some commissioners, GUSA members, and members of student groups.Everyone loved this idea, including the Voice’s Ed Board and SAC chair Sophia Behnia herself. But Monday night, in a mindblowing power grab, Behnia said JK to all that. Here’s the way Behnia says it’s actually going to be:

  • The new SAC chairperson will be appointed by the outgoing one, not GUSA.
  • Votes are now secret! Non-commissioners who attend SAC meetings will have to leave before votes.
  • SAC no longer will tell GUSA what happens at its meetings.

Strangely, there’s nothing GUSA or regular students can do about the veil of secrecy that’s about to descend on how the student activities fee is spent. That means it’s up to the administration to stop the position of SAC chair from becoming a hereditary, incredibly powerful title, but they don’t seem interested.

GUSA Senator Tyler Stone told the Hoya that GUSA would try to do something after the changes are approved, but until then, you’ll just have to trust Sophia.

7 Comments on “SAC chair Sophia Behnia: Georgetown’s newest aspiring kleptocrat

  1. Gaaaa! I hate SAC so god damned much. There needs to be a more organized, focused form of opposition to them. They’re anemia to the student body.

  2. What has been your experience with SAC, Chris?

    It’s just weird to me that they can close themselves off like this and there’s nothing to do about it.

  3. “Strangely, there’s nothing GUSA or regular students can do about the veil of secrecy that’s about to descend on how the student activities fee is spent.”

    There is, technically. The GUSA Constitution, as originally passed, specifies that SAC is a subordinate body of the Student Association. And it was that way in practice for nearly a decade and a half, until several years ago when the SAC chair under GUSA Pres. Pravin Rajan’s presidency decided to go independent. Pravin didn’t do anything, and Todd Olson basically sent out a memo saying everyone should all be friends and SAC can do its own thang.

    Suffice it to say, this is a huge issue. GUSA has the constitutional upper hand (as well as the support of all the newspapers, clubs and students, from any random poll of opinion you’d like to take). It’s up to them to pressure Dr. Olson to rescind the original memo and bring them back in line with the Constitution.

    If Olson refuses to budge, then I think it’s best to really get a strong measure of public opinion. GUSA is within its rights to call a referendum on the issue, and have people voice their opinion on whether they prefer SAC’s proposed way of doing things, or GUSA’s.

    GUSA could also amend its by-laws relating to the Funding Board allocation of the Student Activities Fee money, and write SAC out unless it agreed to more transparency. It’s well within its rights, as the Accountability and Reform Amendment that passed several years ago (and after the GUSA-SAC split) gives GUSA the power to “appropriate all Student Association funds, including the aggregate funds from the Student Activities Fee, among the agencies, funding boards, organizations and initiatives it deems fit.”

  4. Also, all changes to the SAC Constitution need to be approved by Todd Olson.

    I think if there’s a unified opposition to them, from GUSA as well as students, newspapers, Ed Boards, etc., he will certainly think twice before granting it.

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