Senate proposes bill relaxing SGA funding exclusivity restrictions

Sydney Cromwell, Editor-in-Chief

For clubs that have previously had their Student Government Association Senate funding requests rejected, a new bill might change their luck for the fall.

The Senate has introduced a new bill that would remove the organization exclusivity clause from the funding guidelines in the code of laws. Currently, clubs must meet several standards to be eligible for funding, including being “non-exclusive” or open to all students. Alternately, exclusive organizations can receive funding for specific events that are open to the campus at the Senate’s discretion.

The proposed bill would remove this restriction and leave funding approvals to the “best judgment of Senate.” This would open the way for any recognized campus organization, including individual Greek chapters, to make requests, though Senate can still choose to turn those requests down. The focus would instead be on how a specific organization or event reflects university values and has a positive impact.

Vice President for Senate and senior finance major Stephen Newton said the bill was introduced because interpreting which organizations meet that criteria can become a complicated subject. Groups like major-specific fraternities and club sport teams are only open to a small subset of students, but they frequently still need financial assistance from SGA to operate.

“The funding guidelines simply tell what you can not fund. It is not intended to tell you exactly what to fund, otherwise there would be no need for a finance committee and their discretion. Nearly every request has some stipulation to where not all 2,700 undergrads could attend or participate,” Newton said. “If you view exclusivity this stringently, there would only be a handful of organizations who would be eligible.”

Code of Laws chair and junior political science major Garrett Greer pointed out that the Senate has on several occasions ignored the exclusivity clause this year and given money to deserving organizations that did not meet the exclusivity criteria. This included the dance team, which received funds despite requiring tryouts before accepting students.

“The purpose of the bill isn’t necessarily to increase the amount of organizations that can receive money, but rather to reflect the current practices of Senate as it seems under the interpretation of many senators that we’ve already been funding exclusive and semi exclusive organizations,” Greer said.

The bill would not change other funding regulations, such as the stipulation that Senate will not fund items like T-shirts, charity donations and lodging or travel expenses.

Junior exercise science major and off-campus senator Jhamall Wright has previously sat on the finance committee and seen the limiting effects of the exclusivity clause. He said he supports removing the clause. As the president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Wright also sees the potential benefits for Greek chapters.

“I think the proposed amendment would be beneficial and would give individual chapters the opportunity to showcase their own values, aims and philanthropic efforts. It would also give the senate more initiative and thought about each funding request,” he said.

This bill, if approved, would have repercussions on the Senate’s club funding budget as more organizations become eligible. Earlier in the semester, Senate had to transfer $3,000 into its funding budget in order to meet organization requests.

Newton said during the meeting that the current Student Executive Board is planning to meet with Vice President of Student Affairs Phil Kimrey about increasing Senate’s operating budget.

The Senate voted to table the bill until its next meeting. In the meantime, senators will read minutes from the initial introduction of the clause in order to understand its original purpose.

The next Senate meeting is Tuesday, April 14.

 

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