Each year, UR undergraduates are required to pay a Student Activities fee, which support Students’ Association Funded groups and supplemental funding. However, with about 240 SA Funded and Recognized groups, it is not possible to adequately fund the wishes of every organization.
Last week, the SA Senate passed a nonbinding resolution, called ‘A Sense of the Senate,” recommending that political causes and activities not receive budgetary and supplemental funding.
By and large, we feel that this is a good approach for the SA Appropriations Committee to take when it allocates money to groups. It is fundamentally unfair for one person to pay a Student Activities fee that could go to a political cause that they may oppose, in some cases vehemently. Some of the political causes in question such as the letter writing campaign that Amnesty International proposed that sparked this change can be funded by the particular group’s fundraising efforts.
The Senate’s motion does not stifle River Campus activism SAAC has the ability to fund political awareness on campus in an effort to present a wide variety of views. What if the College Republicans wanted to pay money to bring a speaker supporting their views onto the River Campus? On the one hand, these are Student Activities fees going toward what are arguably political activities. On the other hand, the importance of fostering discussion on opposing views enhances campus life and provides a necessary supplement for classroom education.
There is a nuanced difference between the SA funding political action and political awareness. The ambiguity surrounding when and if this motion becomes binding should be resolved quickly. Student groups need strong, specific guidelines from SAAC so that they can effectively plan their groups’ events as far into the future as necessary. The SA Senate needs to make this motion binding.