“I don’t give a damn!”: GUSA senator stages sit-in at SAC constitution meeting

As The Hoya reports, SAC passed an amendment to its constitution last night that officially gave its chairs a power that current SAC chair Sophia Behnia (COL `09) says they have had for years: the ability to independently a successor independent of outside (GUSA) review.

But what The Hoya doesn’t tell you is that the scene at SAC last night was utter chaos.

According to Voice reporter Alisha Crovetto, SAC carried out business-as-usual, hearing out clubs’ requests for funding and discussing the requests individually, until they brought the meeting to a vote. Members of SAC then asked everyone to leave the room (SAC members vote in privacy so their peers cannot individually call them out for their votes).

Most complied, but Nick Troiano, (COL `11), one of the many GUSA Senators in attendance for discussion about the constitution (GUSA and SAC have entered into a tangled relationship over SAC transparency in the last few weeks), would have none of it. He conducted a brief sit-in, refusing to leave the room on the grounds that SAC meetings are open.

At that point, SAC members ushered reporters, GUSA Senators, and club members back into the room, where Behnia had decided to move up the vote on constitutional issues.

“You can all stay in here for this vote, I don’t give a damn!” she yelled.

At that point, Crovetto says, there were “angry voices and everyone talking over everyone.” One GUSA Senator said, “Let’s not rush this,” to which Behnia replied, “Your colleague forced us to do this.”

After brief comments from the gallery by Troiano and Senator Matt Wagner (SFS `11), SAC voted 12-0-1 (Behnia abstained “as usual,”Crovetto says) to approve a new constitution which severs official ties to GUSA, for now.

So why wasn’t all this in The Hoya article? Your guess is as good as mine. The article as a whole is slightly reductive, mistaking months of GUSA-SAC collaboration on a more transparent selection process for something entirely different:

“The change was made after months of collaboration between SAC and GUSA, and was designed to better reflect SAC’s current selection protocol, according to SAC Chair Sophia Behnia (COL ’09).

This doesn’t reflect that many GUSA Senators felt blindsided last week when they heard of the changes to the SAC constituton that Behnia had proposed. But a Voice article knows better:

“The GUSA Senate was caught off guard by the proposed amendments because recently, GUSA and SAC have been working to make SAC more transparent and accountable to the student body.”

Look for more SAC coverage in Thursday’s Voice.

12 Comments on ““I don’t give a damn!”: GUSA senator stages sit-in at SAC constitution meeting

  1.  by  Hot Damn!

    Let’s replace the Dowdometer with the Troianometer. Looks like this kid is gonna be making waves shortly.

  2.  by  Meredith Ponder

    I will never understand the politics of this campus. Seems like there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that pretty much everyone else has no idea about–but this stuff is important! SAC funding is important! Thanks for calling it out.

  3.  by  Molly Redden

    Thanks Meredith! Happy to keep you posted on the bureaucrats’-in-training wheelings and dealings.

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  5.  by  Hoya

    This is getting ridiculous. The most frustrating thing is that so few students pay attention to these issues that affect all of us, or surely there would be more outrage about a naked power-grab by an organization that isn’t democratically selected and which exercises outsize power over student life at Georgetown. I find the mere existence of SAC offensive most of the time, as they frequently and inexplicably deny requests for funding for really enormous, popular groups (the College Democrats, the Southeast Asian Society, etc.) which sitting on a giant pile of leftover money we all pay for. I’m not paying my activities fee for 4 years only to watch it get spend on students 2, 3, 4 years down the road.

    This is a pattern in SAC’s history of making unilateral decisions without club or GUSA input. Late last year they inexplicably decided to renovate SAC offices, supposedly for the use of students– yet somehow, the result has been an office system that leaves space even less accessible to clubs than before. Clubs are still attempting to track down stuff that SAC moved out of their offices over the summer with no notice.

    I am consistently horrified by the sense of entitlement that SAC members– and, in particular, Ms. Behnia– seem to exude regarding their relative importance on campus. I keep hoping that they will prove me wrong, but after 3 and a half years, I am forced to conclude that SAC members, including Ms. Behnia, are as egomaniacal as they appear.

    Thanks to the Voice for reporting on this important issue.

  6.  by  Will Sommer

    You’re welcome! The whole thing is pretty strange, especially considering how few students seem to be paying attention. I don’t blame them–SAC and GUSA things are boring, and it rarely ever really matters. In this case it does, though, so I hope some students are telling Todd Olson what they think about SAC’s power grab.

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