SAC Chair e-mails club leaders promising to fight proposed GUSA reforms

In response to the legislation to reform the Funding Board that the Georgetown University Student Association will soon consider, Student Activity Commission Chair Ethel Amponsah (NHS ’11) has sent the letter reproduced below to student club leaders. In it, she emphasizes that there is legislation to eliminate the votes Advisory Board chairs who sit on the Funding Board have, including the SAC Chair, and her feeling that the six reforms GUSA has suggested were based on misconceptions. She promises to fight the proposed changes.

“By eliminating our votes, GUSA will … remove your representation as student organizations on the Funding Board, thereby limiting our opportunity to participate in the process of distributing the Student Activities Fee in an equitable manner.

“GUSA states that this legislation is based upon its 6 recommendations presented to all of the Advisory Boards. I have responded to these arbitrary recommendations, noting various errors within the document and statements made based on rumors,” she writes.

“Please know that we will do everything possible to prevent changes to the voting structure of the Funding Board.” (Disclosure: Amponsah and I participated in an After School Kids group together our freshman year).

Student club members’ responses to the host of club funding reforms GUSA began pushing for in the fall, including the 6 reforms Amponsah references, have been a mixed bag, but several advisory board chairs sitting on the Funding Board have balked at GUSA’s proposal to strip them of their votes.

At the same time, many club leaders have expressed their displeasure with SAC’s funding process and Amponsah’s letter itself, with some of the club leaders who forwarded Amponsah’s e-mail to Vox saying her letter used scare tactics. Amponsah has not yet responded to requests for comment about these characterizations, but we’ll update this post with her response when she does.

Update 10:47 a.m. January 29: Amponsah has responded by e-mail, “The letter I wrote to student organizations is in no way a fear tactic.  I believe in informing students about changes in policy or procedure that may directly affect their organizations, not scaring them.”

See the full letter after the jump!

Dear Student Organization Leaders,

I am writing to inform you about new legislation proposed by the Finance & Appropriations Committee of GUSA that will directly affect your student groups. The Funding Board comprised of the 5 Advisory Board Chairs (PAAC, Media, SAC, CSJ-Advisory Board for Student Organizations [ABSO], and Club Sports), GPB, six senators from the Finance and Appropriations Committee, and one additional representative of GUSA, meets each year to distribute the Student Activities fee. Each member of the Funding Board has one vote on behalf of his or her groups. However, this vote will be eliminated under the proposed legislation. The Committee would like to remove all 6 votes of PAAC, Media Board, SAC, CSJ-ABSO, Club Sports, and GPB, leaving senators to be the sole administrators of the Student Activity Fee.

By eliminating our votes, GUSA will also remove your representation as student organizations on the Funding Board, thereby limiting our opportunity to participate in the process of distributing the Student Activities Fee in an equitable manner. In recent years, the Student Activities Fee has represented anywhere from 13% to as much as 25% of SAC’s annual allocation budget. For many of the other Advisory Boards, the Fee represents a much greater percentage of their budget. Without a vote, SAC does not have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of its groups and secure adequate funding for the next academic year. Limited funding will ultimately decrease the quality of programming on our campus.

GUSA states that this legislation is based upon its 6 recommendations presented to all of the Advisory Boards. I have responded to these arbitrary recommendations, noting various errors within the document and statements made based on rumors. I find it frustrating that GUSA continues to move forward with legislation based on misinformation. Additionally, GUSA is pushing for time-lines, for both Advisory Board selections and the allocation of the Student Activity Fee, that work for GUSA only and would be disruptive and detrimental to student organization needs.

Please know that we will do everything possible to prevent changes to the voting structure of the Funding Board. I will send a formal response to GUSA by the beginning of next week. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at sac@georgetown.edu.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

All my best,

Ethel Amponsah

SAC Chair

Photo from Flickr user mtsofan used under a Creative Commons license.

10 Comments on “SAC Chair e-mails club leaders promising to fight proposed GUSA reforms

  1. I hope that the GUSA legislation passes. Most large student groups that deal with SAC would like to see SAC have less of a strangle hold on allocation of money, especially the Student Activities Fee. Representation will be given to elected members of the Senate rather than self-perpetuating Advisory Boards like SAC. If SAC really acted as an “Advisory Board” and not like an authoritarian council then maybe student groups would feel differently.

  2. “GUSA states that this legislation is based upon its 6 recommendations presented to all of the Advisory Boards. I have responded to these arbitrary recommendations, noting various errors within the document and statements made based on rumors,” she writes.

    I haven’t seen this. Does the Voice have a copy? I would love to see how SAC responded to the six “arbitrary” reforms. These arbitrary, error-filled recommendations like open and transparent voting, election of board members by clubs, annual lump-sum funding as opposed to event-by-event basis, club control over money club’s independently fundraise, and an independent appeals process. Yeah, sounds like a draconian response by GUSA!

    Oh, I should note that every other peer school has enacted at least some of these reforms, and most have enacted all of them. But yeah… so many errors!

  3. If SAC and the Media Board, a least, were not so secretive and obtuse maybe they could claim to represent anyone. SAC can’t claim to be defending openness and helping students while voting in secret and holding an arbitrary application process.

  4. Here’s a chart of our peer schools.
    Elected = elected or student government appointed/confirmed club heads
    LSF = annual lump-sum funding option, as opposed to event-by-event funding
    OV = open voting
    IAP = independent appeals process
    A2B = presumed compliance with “access to benefits” (aka you don’t have to go to SAC to get approval for events — you’re presumed to be compliant with the policy, and subject to sanctions if you violate it)

    Elected LSF OV IAP A2B
    Georgetown X X X X X
    Brown ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
    UPenn ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
    Cornell ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
    Princeton ✔ ✔
    Dartmouth ✔ ✔ ✔
    Yale ✔ ✔
    Columbia ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
    Northwestern ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
    Notre Dame ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔

  5. Damnit. Didn’t fully work. Anyway, every school listed has all of them, except for:

    Princeton: just has elected, and presumed compliance with A2B,
    Dartmouth just has LSF, OV and A2B
    Yale has LSF and A2B
    Northwestern has Elected, OV, IAP and A2B

  6. SAC has ZERO credibility here – what a joke their letter is. They said this last year too.

    SAC doesn’t even advocate for us.

  7. To anyone who is interested in and wants to voice an opinion about this issue, please come to GUSA’s Town Hall on Funding Reform Wednesday, February 3rd at 7:00PM in Reiss 112. I hope we get as many students as possible to come and talk about this important issue.

    Yours,
    Adam Talbot
    GUSA Senate Speaker

  8. As usual, SAC shows it’s arrogance. As a former club leader, I can say that SAC, on the whole, does not advocate for student groups. SAC advocates for SAC.

  9. Pingback: Vox Populi » The SAC Chair and CSJ e-mails about GUSA’s six suggested reforms, and the FinAp Committee’s response to SAC

  10. Pingback: Vox Populi » A recap of last night’s GUSA Town Hall on funding reform

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