YARD POINT-COUNTERPOINT Campaign Offers Empty Promises By Amelia Borrego
Fliers around campus would have you believe that the Yard is a change-all wonder-democracy in which every Joe and Jane can be actively involved in decision making on campus. It’s true – the Yard “Assembly” is by definition every member of the student body (over 6,000 students – and getting bigger), which per their constitution meets once a semester. Every student has the right to put forth motions in high, parliamentary style. But don’t worry about the length of the meeting – not everyone will make it that night. In fact, the formulators of the Yard don’t think so either. The constitution only requires “the number of chairs in Gaston Hall” to be filled. Hardly 6,000. But, at least we’re voting on important things, right? Wrong. The Yard Constitution states “the Assembly’s limited authority shall be to resolve on recommendations to The Yard’s officers or deliberative bodies and to commence the process of constitutional amendment, subject to further approval by the Yard Commons,” (Article 3.2). Translation: The Assembly has no real power. It can vote to make suggestions to the other boards and councils. There are no actual issues on the table, and furthermore, all its proposals are subject to review by the next tier of representation, the Yard Commons.
The Yard Commons is a less-gigantic group that is forced to meet once a month – made up of all club leaders from every major student group on campus. That’s approximately 80 students. This group has the power of veto – sometimes. Anything else? “The Yard Commons shall have plenary authority to resolve on all matters which are not otherwise delegated herein to the Yard Council or the Officers of the Yard” (Article 3.4). The Commons gets the Yard Council’s leftovers. So what does the Council do?
“The Yard Council shall have plenary authority to resolve on any matter of business in the interests of the student body or the university, whether within the power of the Yard to effect or as an advisory communication from the Student Body to the Administration, Faculty or Alumni. In addition to any duties or authority delegated to it in this Constitution, the Yard Council: shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the administration, budget and By-laws of The Yard, including authorization for the president to sign agreements and enter other legal arrangements and over the allocation of funding, office space and other resources to student constituencies; . A quorum to conduct business in the Yard Council is eleven” (Article 3.6).
Read that carefully. The Yard Council, 23 people total, has power over every aspect of campus. Technically, 11 people can decide on any matter on campus.
The Yard is promising more representation but only offers the illusion of putting real power in the hands of students. Under the “exclusive jurisdiction” of the Yard Council are a number of boards and sub-boards, Advisory Councils, Alumni Councils, Cabinets, Judicial Councils and “Standing Committees.” Somewhere under this umbrella is a Student Activities Committee, which places 12 people in charge of additional allocations for nearly 100 clubs. The Yard claims to “shift [money allocation] into student hands, and away from administrators and non-elected students” (from Web site FAQ), but if you read the constitution, standing committees (including the Student Activities Committee) are appointed by the Yard Council President. The Assembly (that’s you) can merely make suggestions to them (if you make the meeting). The Commons has the power of veto concerning “general resolutions of the Yard Council,” but “not pertaining to allocations” (Article 3.4.2). Under the Yard plan, club leaders do not receive any special recourse to funding boards of any kind. Instead, the Yard Commons meets once a month to debate the finer points of parliamentary procedure.
This is not why I became a club president.
I am the president of the Medieval Club. I created this club because I have a passion for Medieval Studies and I wanted to share that with Georgetown. The Yard threatens to turn my job from being a president to being a politician and a fundraiser. I will have to call into question each one of my members’ loyalty to convince them to hand me their “10 units” of funding, or I will be forced to root for extra funding in the “Reserve Fund” – along with every smaller club on campus. Most importantly, beginning clubs will not have access to the same funding as other clubs, and will therefore be at a disadvantage when attempting to establish a permanent member base.
So if the Yard plan offers me “more representation” – and no real power – at quite possibly the cost of my club’s future, here’s what I say: No thank you.
Please make an informed decision when voting comes around.
Amelia Borrego is a senior in the College and president of the edieval Club.