In an open letter sent Friday afternoon to members of the Student Activities Commission, a number of student clubs and student leaders called on SAC to allow clubs to provide “constructive criticism” about the club funding guidelines.
The letter notes that student groups have not been afforded the opportunity to give input on the funding guidelines that affect their groups.
“If the SAC does not solicit club leadership feedback, the Funding Guidelines will continue to remain obstructive to event organization and program development,” the letter states.
Three of the candidates for the Georgetown University Student Association presidency—Mike Meaney (SFS ’12), Ace Factor (COL ’12), and Charlie Joyce (COL ’12)—signed on to the letter along with current GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ’11).
Full text of the open letter to SAC after the jump.
Could Red Square, besides being a haven for condom-toting leprechauns and currently showered in purple glitter by Relay For Life, be the biggest center for wasting paper on campus?
Maybe. In any event, EcoAction, the student group dedicated to making campus more sustainable, has noticed that clubs funded by the Student Activities Commission waste a lot of stuff—especially food and the hundreds of flyers that paper Red Square on any given day of the week. Now, they’re about to start talks with administrators and, they hope, with SAC, to try to change that.
“The paper waste is pretty insane, so we’re looking to couple the over-flyering initiative with ways to green campus events in general,” Claire Austin (SFS ’12) of EcoAction wrote in an e-mail. She said that she is meeting with Director for Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr and the new campus sustainability director, Audrey Stewart, next week.
Austin said EcoAction would also like to discuss a financial incentive for students to bring old flyers back to SAC for reuse. And she is writing a “greener events guide” for her meeting with Cohen-Derr that she hope SAC will include in its SAC Fair sign-up e-mail and SAC Treasurer training.
“In the short-medium term we’re looking to minimize waste (especially in flyering and food buying), get students to use the compostable utensils SAC provides, make portable recycling bins compulsory for all food events, and reduce bottled water use,” Austin wrote. “In the long term we’d like to see more sustainable event advertising in general.”
For the fall, SAC will begin to transition some clubs to lump sum funding, or bulk allocation, while still allocating money on an event-by-event basis for most clubs. For the Spring of 2011, SAC plans to allocate to all clubs through lump sum funding, while still reserving money to allocate for specific events not included in the full semester budgets clubs will present for SAC approval.
Georgetown University Student Association Senator Greg Laverriere (COL ’12), the Finance and Appropriations Committee member who liaisons with SAC, said that SAC chose to delay the transition so the switch would go smoothly, and not because they were reconsidering bulk allocation.
“I know from sitting in on their meetings that they are fully committed to the switch,” he wrote in an e-mail.
In a phone conversation, he explained that SAC would spend the summer reworking many of its budgeting rules for the changeover, including standardizing amounts they will allocate for individual events, like a dinner in Copley Formal. There are guidelines in place now, but they are not specific enough to facilitate an efficient bulk allocation process.
Neither SAC Chair Ethel Amponsah (NHS ’11) nor SAC Commissioner Harrison Holcomb (NHS ’11) responded to repeated requests for comment, but SAC minutes show that most commissioners felt that the original time line was rushed.
Lump sum funding is one of the remaining few funding board reforms SAC must accomplish before GUSA will allocate its portion of the Student Activities Fee. Members of the FinApp Committee will hold discussions with SAC members this week or next to try to reach an agreement on transparent voting, which SAC is still resisting.
The agenda of this Sunday’s meeting of the Georgetown University Student Association was dominated by the vote on the budget passed out of the Financial Appropriations Committee for fiscal year 2011 on Thursday.
But Senators still found time to remark on the most recent controversy at Georgetown, the Plan A protest held over GAAP weekend, and dream about convening the GUSA Senate in the chamber of the US House of Representatives.
GUSA Budget FY ’11: The GUSA Senate voted to approve the fiscal year 2011 GUSA budget, which allocated $0 to both the Student Activities Commission and the Performing Arts Advisory Council. The budget will increase the level of funding received by Club Sports, Georgetown Program Board, the Center for Social Justice, and the GUSA Executive, while funding for the Media Board will remain unchanged.
Members of the Financial and Appropriations Committee who presented the budget said they had brought the budget without funding for either SAC or PAAC before the Senate because they didn’t want to delay funding for the other advisory boards. They are working to reach agreements with SAC and PAAC on compromises so the two groups could meet GUSA’s six suggested reforms and receive money from the student activities fee.
On Thursday night, the Georgetown University Student Association Finance and Appropriations Committee passed a budget on to the full GUSA Senate with allocations for most of the advisory boards. The Performing Arts Advisory Council and Student Activities Commission were allocated $0, neither board having signed an agreement with FinApp to enact the remaining GUSA reforms for the advisory boards.
SAC is still resisting GUSA pressure to institute public voting on student clubs’ budget, a sticking point that FinApp members and SAC will try to resolve soon. PAAC, by contrast, does not seem to be resistant to any of the reforms they still have left to implement. At tonight’s FinApp meeting, Senator Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) said that PAAC’s members wanted more time to review the agreement proposed by GUSA and were also awaiting discussions with the Vice President for Student Affairs’s office about how to spend down their reserves from $134,000 to $50,000.
FinApp is holding the $25,000 it anticipates allocating to PAAC in GUSA’s reserves until PAAC signs its agreement. The committee passed the budget unanimously.
Tomorrow night, the Georgetown University Student Association Finance and Appropriation Committee, feeling the need to submit a budget for student activiteis to the full Senate, will pass a budget on to the GUSA Senate with allocations for all of the advisory boards except for the Student Activities Commission. The FinApp Committee will allocate money to SAC, which still has not agreed to make its members’ votes on club funding public, in the coming weeks in a separate allocation.
FinApp member Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) said that members of FinApp made the decision after a meeting with Director of Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr, Associate Dean for Finance & Administration Lynn Hirschfeld, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord where they advised FinApp to pass a budget which would allocate funds to the other five advisory boards, and then work out the remaining issues with SAC.
Members of SAC will meet with these administrators in next week, before administrators, SAC, and FinApp members meet all together to try to reach compromise. If they cannot reach an agreement there, an impartial administrator may decide whether SAC needs open votes. However, FinApp members have indicated that they are very reluctant to bring in direct administrative involvement.
Because of rules that stipulate the budget must allocate to all boards, the budget they will pass on to the full Senate will technically allocate an actual dollar amount—$0—to SAC.
Last night, a diligent commenter pointed out that the Georgetown Student Activities Commission has fallen behind in posting its meeting minutes online. Since SAC’s public relations director Ruiyong Chen (SFS ’13) sends meeting notes to the Voice on a weekly basis, Vox has decided that we will post the ones missing from SAC’s website until they catch up.
In an e-mail, Chen explained why the minutes were missing:
“They have not moved. We have been a little backlogged in terms of posting allocation meeting minutes online in a timely manner, in addition to our limited tech skills, simply due to the fact that we as commissioners have been working on other SAC-related duties, such as drafting proposals and rewriting policy guidelines. I apologize for the delay. We hope to get back on schedule soon.
If anyone would like to look at the minutes, they are welcome to email me, and I will forward the minutes requested.”
Below are the meeting minutes from the past five meetings.
Tuesday night’s meeting of the Georgetown University Student Association Finance and Appropriation Committee was all anti-climax, with the Senators having to put off voting on the draft budget they put together before Spring Break until Thursday.
Because details are still unclear on how the Student Activities Commission and the Performing Arts Advisory Council will adopt the remaining reforms of the six GUSA compelling the advisory boards to adopt, the FinApp Committee opted to hold off on passing the budget on to the Senate tonight until those details were fleshed out, instead of allocating $0 to PAAC and SAC and funding them later. Either way, the Senate should still consider the budget this upcoming Sunday.
For their part, SAC has yet to adopt an accountable selection process for their Chair. Senator Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) reported that SAC Chair Ethel Amponsah (NHS ’11) has just named her successor using the same closed process by which former chairs Aakib Khaled (SFS ’10) and Sophia Behnia (COL ’09) selected their successors.
Speakers from organizations like the National Abortion Federation and Choice USA aren’t the kind of guests you’d expect to find at a Georgetown University-sponsored event—especially not if they’re the event’s main voices, and especially not if there isn’t anyone sitting on the panel to counter their input with pro-life opinions.
But that’s exactly who made up the panel that Plan A Hoyas held last night to kick off Choice Week, making it one of the very few events, possibly even the first that the University has ever funded where speakers only presented pro-choice arguments about the abortion debate.
Before a room of about fifty students, Mark Egerman, from NAF, Robin Wood, from Choice USA, and Jared Watkins (COL ’11), a founder of GU Men Creating Change, spoke about the importance of male involvement in the pro-choice movement, why male involvement is especially important to the pro-choice movement now, and how Georgetown students can lobby the school to fund more similar events.
“Unfortunately, men’s voices are often heard louder than women’s even when the same message is being heard,” Egerman said. Later, he spoke to the difficulty of getting men to advocate for abortion rights, as it’s not a right that men exercise. “The power to be able to force someone to give birth against their will is fundamentally terrifying. But that’s not something men necessarily think about because they’re not physically threatened by that.”
Watkins, the student, does a lot of work on and off campus concerning violence against women and said that Georgetown policies that “silence women’s voices of control women’s choices” are a very basic form of controlling women’s bodies. “And that control is very basic violence against women,” he said.
This week, seduced by the beautiful weather, the Georgetown University Student Association Senate convened its weekly meeting on Healy lawn. Senators reclined on the grass as their fellow students blissfully threw footballs and beanbags and held a relaxed, banal Senate session, with no new legislation coming up for a vote.
Club Funding and SAC: The meeting featured a briefing from the Finance and Appropriations Committee, whose chair, Nick Troiano (COL ’11) said that his committee had created a draft budget for comment and appeal, but that the committee had received no comments or appeals.
Senator Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) provided a briefing on his meeting with representatives from the Student Activities Commission and University administrators. He said they had managed to compromise on several of the issue but still disagreed over open voting, which GUSA believes SAC should institute.
SAC has resisted open votes, noting that the nature of the votes can be very controversial. Laverriere said that several compromises had been proposed, including a trial run of open voting that could be ended if the process proved disastrous, but none of them had been agreed upon. Laverriere suggested that ultimately the university might select an impartial administrator to settle the dispute.
Executive Briefing: Both GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ’11) and Vice-President Jason Kluger (MSB ’11) provided briefings at the meeting. Angert said that he and Kluger had been making changes to the executive board.
“We’re definitely expanding the executive board in terms of size,” said Angert.
Angert also said that over spring break the GUSA Summer Fellows had received a $6,000 private donation, and that the application for the Summer Fellows Program would be online beginning today.