Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Club Leaders Continue to Press SAC for Feedback Opportunities

After the Student Activities Commission released new funding guidelines Sunday despite calls from student organizations and leaders to let them provide feedback beforehand, some club leaders are looking for other avenues to make their concerns heard.

“They don’t incorporate club feedback on any of the major concerns,” said Eitan Paul (SFS ‘12), president of the International Relations Club. “There are changes in the funding guidelines and some are positive, but for us at least, most of them are negligible.”

The revised guidelines were released after several student groups and campus leaders sent an open letter to SAC, calling on the commission to allow for formal input from clubs.

But SAC commissioner Ruiyong Chen (SFS ‘13) said that many of the concerns voiced by clubs were taken into account in the revised guidelines.

Among the key changes is a provision for clubs to hold one fundraiser each semester that was not included in their original Programming Arc, the plan that clubs must submit by March 2 detailing the events they will hold in the coming year.

The revised guidelines also allocate funds for organizational events based on expected attendance. Chen said this change was made in response to complaints from large clubs that they were disadvantaged by flat rate allocations.

For some groups, these changes are not enough. Emma Green (COL ’12), treasurer of the Philodemic Society, said that the revisions did not address many of the group’s specific concerns, including the issue of allowing for ad hoc approval of some events.

“The moral of the story is that SAC hasn’t made any substantive changes,” she said.

Green and Paul said they wanted to see changes to the funding guidelines this semester, beginning with a town hall or forum for clubs to express their opinions.

Paul said the IRC has been considering going through the administration and the Georgetown University Student Association to pressure SAC into allowing for such a formal feedback mechanism.

Greg Laverriere (COL ’12), chairperson of the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee and a signatory of the open letter, said that the committee was exploring all avenues and is in discussions with SAC as the GUSA Budget Summit approaches. The Budget Summit is the first step in GUSA’s funding allocation process.

One proposed solution is to have GUSA withhold funding from SAC until the commission agrees to allow for student input.

“We hope it is resolved before it comes to that point,” Laverriere said. “GUSA taking away funding is an utmost last resort.”

Previously, GUSA has provided between 10 and 20 percent of SAC’s funding. This year, because of changes enacted under the SAFE reform which passed last semester, GUSA could end up providing about 40 percent of SAC’s budget.

“It is enough to leverage the needs and wants of clubs,” Laverriere said.

Shuo Yan Tan (SFS ’12), the international student representative on the Diversity in Action Council, said that the funding guidelines are having an adverse effect on funding for large diversity-related events on campus. Through the council, he has been talking to administrators

about problems with the SAC funding guidelines, but he emphasized the conversation is just getting started.

Ultimately, Green said, she thinks SAC needs to create a system in which commissioners, whose individual hard work and dedication she praised, have more flexibility.

“They have been locked – and locked themselves – into a very bureaucratic system that has glaring flaws,” she said.

Paul said that the IRC was most concerned about SAC’s decision not to add an ad-hoc process.

This may pose a special problem for clubs in the spring semester round of allocations because the current club leaders, who will complete the Programming Arcs due on March 2, will in many cases not be in charge next academic year.

“It undermines the leadership of the newly elected,” Paul said.

Chen said that while she recognized this concern, pushing the allocation process back to April would cause problems for groups that need to book specific spaces. Because the Office of Campus Activities Facilities begins accepting space reservations on March 1, groups like the South Asian Society – who need to book popular spots such as Gaston Hall for Rangila through OCAF – would be disadvantaged by a later approval.

“We weighed the merits of both,” Chen said. “We thought that the space needs won out.”

But some club leaders said there were viable ways to get around this, such as allowing the bulk allocation system to be opt-in instead of mandatory or by allocating space before funding.

“Although I appreciate the difficulty of their position, I don’t think it’s valid to say that’s the reason,” Green said.

While some student groups have made their concerns public, Chen said that many of the groups she works with have privately expressed satisfaction with the revisions.

“It’s not a perfect system and I understand that,” she said. “But for many groups I think it’s just minor concerns. They’re just not the most vocal.”

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