The Students’ Association Senate formed a new committee to examine the current policy towards funding politically involved student organizations, on Sept. 13.According to existing SA bylaws, supporting political parties or candidates makes a student organization ineligible for funding.”The Political Finance Committee will try to figure out what is meant by the term ‘political,'” Committee Chairman, Senator and senior Steve D’Amico said. “I’m excited about leading this committee and confident that we will do quick and effective work with the input from the student body.”The primary issue is whether or not money from students’ activities fees should be used to support a group which that individual does not support. For example, if a person is a Democrat, he or she may not want his or her money used to support the College Republicans, or vice versa.When the senate adopted a resolution supporting the creation of this committee last week, they decided that only those senators sitting on the committee could vote when the committee makes decisions. Another option considered was whether to allow the leaders of the issue awareness groups in question to vote.”Even though those group leaders won’t be able to vote, we definitely want their input,” D’Amico said. “This issue was brought about because of the creation of new groups, so I am sure that they will want to participate in the process.”This issue has gained momentum with the surge of activity by groups including Students for Social Justice and College Republicans. “Obviously I think that this is an extremely important issue,” junior, Senator and President of College Republicans Noah Lebowitz said. “The existing policy discriminates based on the name that groups operate under, not the activities they organize. We need to clarify what activities funds can be used on.””I don’t think that every student should be forced to support anyone’s political agenda. College Republicans receives no money from the school, but we manage to be one of the more successful groups on campus,” Lebowitz said. “We wouldn’t want to make those without the same views as us fund us.” The senators who will serve on the committee with D’Amico are senior Jack Voorhees, senior Douglas Battenhausen and junior David Ladon.Last year, Voorhees suggested clarifying the difference between “political” and “issue awareness groups.””This issue is bigger than what I originally thought,” Voorhees said at Monday’s meeting. “I want the system to have more equity and be clearly defined.”In addition to being a senator, Ladon is also a programming chair for SSJ, and he believes that interest awareness groups should receive funding. “College is more than just taking classes,” Ladon said. “In addition to be a research institution, we need to encourage all students to speak up. People need to become more involved in this discourse.”Continuing, he said, “I’m involved in SSJ and I’m not sure that I can be unbiased. I would like to give it a shot and if I cannot separate my roles, I will resign.”Battenhausen stated that he thinks that the existing bylaw is sufficient, but is open to being Many students feel that this is an important issue that warrants discussion before making any decisions. Junior Susan Zultanski liked the idea of SA support of advocacy groups. “I don’t see why these groups shouldn’t have funding,” she said. “It’s important that they be able to carry out their message and be successful. These groups should be subjected to the same review process that other clubs go through. Funding should be based on their prior and future programming plans.””It is a hard decision to make, but I believe that all groups should be given funding,” junior Dan Capellupo said. “First, different people have different interests. If one’s interests lay only in politics and not in, for example, club sports or video gaming, then why should his or her group of choice be denied funding? Second, funding all of these groups helps promote open diversity on campus, which is one of the great things about college life.”Keesing can be reached at email@example.com.
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