Student group leaders sighed with relief when the Student Activities Commission announced Tuesday it has finally approved an amendment that allows groups to request money throughout the semester. But this victory is merely one battle in a long, drawn-out war between university bureaucracy and on-campus groups.
When the changes are added to the SAC guidelines for the 2011-2012 school year, student groups will be able to present new event proposals on the third SAC meeting of every month. No new money will be provided for groups at that time, but the groups will be permitted to redistribute their funds. Theoretically, this agreement would allow student groups to put on unplanned events that were not a part of their original projected arc of activity. This positive step allows groups a little more wiggle room in a rigid, highly regulated relationship between student group leaders and SAC.
But group leaders are still faced with the gloomy shadow of reality — commissioners still cling to a right to reject proposals on a bureaucratic basis. Acceptable guidelines for these proposals have yet to be determined. Further SAC protocols have the potential to end up being another obstacle groups have to overcome. If SAC proceeds in its typical organizational fashion, it will have accomplished nothing except giving false hope of being able to hold more spontaneous events.
Undoubtedly, student groups will still take advantage of the newfound opportunity provided by the amendment. That said, SAC is setting itself up for a flood of proposals and presentations once a month that will lead to a long, laborious and easily avoidable process. In the event of a particularly lengthy meeting, SAC may choose to end meetings by hastily shutting down group project proposals or tabling time-sensitive events until the next month’s meeting.
Usually when student groups want to host a more spontaneous event, it’s due to an unpredictable external circumstance. Some fundraisers run by student groups need immediate sponsorship, especially when they intend to provide relief for natural disasters or other tragedies. The liquidation of such funds needs to be fast and efficient for maximum humanitarian impact. Any kind of effort may be lost in the persnickety procedures outlined in Tuesday’s amendment.
Obviously, SAC needs to hold student groups accountable for the funding the commission provides to student groups. Anything less than a careful eye would be irresponsible. Simultaneously, student groups ought to be pleased with a long-awaited end to their stalemate with SAC, but realize unfortunately this is only one small step. In order to promote a substantial improvement in student group relations, SAC needs to be sure it doesn’t allow institutional policies to get in the way of its intended goal of improving student life.