During the past several years, the Students’ Association government has undergone massive and long-term changes. With the ratification of the new Constitution, the final structural changes will have taken place, and the SA can move forward in a stable and efficient manner.
However, I also believe that the SA must deal with some of the issues that have continually arisen over the past several years. Monday’s senate meeting saw the debate over whether or not to allow Greek groups to apply for programming support from the SA end in a vote in favor of such a measure and an extremely reluctant veto on my part. I plan on explaining my reasoning for such a veto and my support for a “Greek” fund in a future piece.
Another such issue is whether or not the SA fee should fund groups that are political in nature. We currently do not fund any student group that endorses a political party or candidate. Thus, the College Republicans and College Democrats do not receive any SA funds for their activities. However, other student groups like Students for Social Justice – while politically active, are officially characterized as “issue awareness” groups, and therefore are eligible to receive funding. This distinction seems to bother many students who either believe that “political” groups should be able to receive SA funds, or that these “issue awareness” groups should be restricted in the same manner as those groups that endorse a political party or candidate.
This issue must be dealt with in two phases. The first step must be to determine what it means to be a “political” group. There is a senate committee working on this matter, and I am hopeful that they will come to some type of conclusion soon. Once the senate has decided what it will characterize as a political group, I believe the decision whether or not to fund political groups – however they are characterized – should be left up to the voters in this spring’s presidential, senatorial and class council elections.
Political groups traditionally have not received funding because students don’t want to see their activities fee go toward the election of George W. Bush, John Kerry, Ross Perot or anybody else. I,myself, am still undecided on this issue, as I think it is remarkably complex – I need to weigh both sides further.
Regardless of my opinion, if a majority of students decide that they believe it is acceptable for these groups to receive money, then the SA has an obligation to do so. Therefore, I will be asking the senate at the Feb. 7 meeting to put this issue on the ballot in March’s elections. I encourage anyone interested to attend the meeting at 9 p.m. in the Gowen Room of Wilson Commons and express their viewpoint to their senators.
Nabozny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.