Senate Supports Funding For Non-SA Groups

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

After heated debates over the course of the past several months, Student Senate has agreed to create an account for non-Student Association (SA) organizations should financial requests be met.

At the March 5 meeting of the Student Senate, senators voted to create a separate monetary account if students voted to increase the Student Activity fee. The money would be eligible for request by groups such as academic honor societies and Greek Life, among others.

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Jordan Taylor, who is campaigning for an increase in the Student Activity Fee, said the idea to have a new account made for non-SA groups was brought up briefly at the end of the spring 2013 semester. However, more serious conversations began last fall.

“There were two Greek senators who wanted to discuss United Greek Association (UGA) funding last year,” Taylor said. “Last semester when we brought it up, most people were against it due to generalizations and stereotypes on Greek organizations.”

Senator and President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Henry Lino said in the past, individuals have been hesitant to provide funding for Greek Life via the Student Activity Fee due to antiquated images of Greek organizations.

“A lot of people think we just throw parties and believe we’re only using our money to fund parties,” he said. “That isn’t the motive or reason why we would receive those funds. We want it to fund educational programs on campus.”

Lino said, without extra funding, it is difficult for smaller fraternities and sororities to sustain themselves and be as much of an active presence on campus as other Greek organizations because of socioeconomic factors. He also said the money from the account, should it be created, would only go to events that would “educate the student body.”

“Organizations of color tend to have smaller numbers due to the fact that there is a decline of Black and Latino students on this campus,” Lino said. “Because of this, they have more trouble fundraising and hosting events where they have keynote speakers. A lot of times we have to pay for that out of pocket, whereas white organizations have a lot more numbers because, and I don’t want to assume, they have more intake of students … It’s a demographics issue.”

Should the account come into fruition, there are certain stipulations that would have to be met, Director of Student Activities and Union Services Mike Patterson said. Non-SA groups would have to meet certain requirements with their programming before receiving any money from that account.

However, Patterson said it is still early to know all of the specifics of the stipulations, as well as the exact amount of money that would be put into the account.

“If it were created, SA would have to create a process or rule attached to it,” Patterson said. “I do know that the money could only be requested to support events on campus open to all students for the benefit of the campus, meaning it could not be for recruitment, nor support chapter or group operations. If developed, the fund would be available to any non-SA group which includes Greeks, but also residence hall governments and groups, academic groups only recognized by a department, and others.”

Though a majority of senators voted to create the account, there are some who are unsure of how it should operate if approved. SA Executive Vice President Zachary Rousseas said the concern of those still on the fence about the account is whether or not money operated by SA should go to non-affiliated groups.

“The argument against giving non-SA groups money is that it would come from the Activity Fee and that the money doesn’t necessarily go toward organizations directly affiliated with SA,” Rousseas said. “I think that’s where people are wanting to draw the line and not give it to non-SA groups since they’re not directly affiliated.”

Senator Dana Hershkowitz said while she was initially against creating the account, she has warmed up to the idea after discussions at senate meetings. Hershkowitz said, due to the nature of organizations such as Greek Life and honor societies which can be exclusive, she was uncomfortable providing money to organizations which do not open membership to all students on campus.

SA-approved organizations are required in the SA bylaws to provide membership to all students on campus. Should an SA-sponsored organization not follow the bylaws, SA could impose consequences, such as a halt in funding.

Hershkowitz said her main concern was providing SA money to non-SA organizations that do not follow SA guidelines. But, she said the funding would only go toward items and events that would be given back to the campus community.

“At first my fears were that you would have non-SA organizations accessing the money while not following SA rules,” she said. “However, the idea is that they [non-SA organizations] would have to apply for money, follow SA rules and what they’re using the money for has to benefit the whole campus.”

Fourth-year Black Studies major and Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. President Nelson Terrell said should the account be created, it would create a more even field of visibility on campus for Greek organizations, and would also create a more diverse and educated campus.

“Funding would be for educational programs that could promote diversity and this funding would encourage different fraternities to collaborate with one another,” Terrell said. “This would make us more attractive to students from different multicultural groups looking to come here, as they would see better representation and have a more educated climate.”