Senate creates consolidation committee

The Students’ Association Senate voted 11 to six with one abstention Monday night to create a Group Consolidation Committee to be led by senior and Cabinet member Patrick Brennan. This committee was created due to the growing concern about the number of student groups on campus and their corresponding strain on advising and financial resources.”The problem is the continuing fracture of student groups,” senior and SA President Pete Nabozny said during Monday’s senate meeting. “We are approving more and more groups with fewer and fewer members.”Continuing, he said, “This places a strain on our budget and on the Student Activities Office staff. We will talk to like-minded groups to see if they would consider combining forces. There are numerous advantages, including having more people at events, a better allocation of money and a release of the fiscal strain.”Nabozny stressed that this process would be completely voluntary for groups. He is hopeful that the ideas discussed through the new committee will provide an impetus for consolidation.”This new committee will strategize with groups to develop an optimal solution,” Brennan said. “We need to develop a consistent way to determine whether or not a group is worthy of being approved. Group consolidation is not the only idea being explored – the committee will also look into developing an umbrella situation.”An umbrella structure would allow student groups to continue to exist independently, but would create an ideal environment for cooperation. For example, there could be an event-planning umbrella that could encompass groups including the Campus Activities Board, UR Cinema Group, UR Concerts, Outside Speakers Committee and others. Each member group could send a delegate to a caucus type meeting to discuss programming and funding issues.Headed by Brennan, the committee will include two senators, two cabinet members, two All Campus Judicial Council members and representatives from each of the general categories of students groups – event planning, issue awareness, cultural, performance, etc. Additionally, any studentswho are interested will be welcome to participate in meetings.Some senators voiced concern that the addition of this committee would add to the confusion and bureaucracy associated with the SA government. “This is a wonderful idea, but not the right way to do it,” sophomore Senator Robert Cavanaugh said. “This committee would be extraneous because we already have a policy committee with an existing dialogue between groups. Adding this committee will create another level of management for no reason. Also, any meaningful changes that are proposed through this committee would have to be approved by the policy committee anyway, so it should all be done through policy.”Brennan responded to concerns that it may be impossibly difficult to get groups to consolidate. “We cannot just assume that groups won’t come together because they are egoistic. This is not a give. We will look for solutions and incentives to break down walls so that groups can work together and hopefully come together most effectively.””I don’t think that UR Cinema Group would want to combine with other students groups,” junior and UR Cinema Group Chairperson Mona Koda said. “Cinema Group would want to keep its autonomy because our programming is quite different from other groups.” Reporting by Jeff Keesing.

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