By Kyle Kittredge
Over the summer session, bylaws were reworked so business managers (BMs) of student organizations can no longer vote during weekly meetings, changing the future of how the Student Activity Committee Fee (SAFC) will work.
The student activity fee money that every student pays gets distributed to many organizations by SAFC, and is used to fund various organizations.
SAFC Chair and junior political science major, Abby Martinen, explained how SAFC works.
“We have 14 Student Activity Fee Organizations (SAFOs) that receive a standing budget every year and the rest of the money goes to equipment, as well as a big chunk goes to the rest of the student orgs who can apply for supplementary funds,” Martinen said.
With the new changes in place, things are a little different.
“The Student Senate felt that there needed to be more oversight over SAFC,” Martinen said.
“So now the voting members on SAFC include nine staff senators, the Office of the Student Body President, and the two chief financial officers,,” she said.“Nothing is changed on how we distribute money. It’s just more critical of how much money people get,” Martinen added.
Junior Lincoln Crutchfield, business manager of the Student Senate, gave insight on why this change occurred.
“We have been working on this since the beginning of last April,” Crutchfield said.
“We looked at the system and asked, is this democratic, is this accountable and is this just? The answer was no, not really,” he said.
The author of the new bylaw is senior history major and Student Body Vice President, Ryan Grogan.
“We heard from people that they wanted a change in how SAFC is run. So we looked at bylaws and how to make this committee for the students,” Grogan said.
“We want organizations to know it wasn’t against them, and we understand their side,” he said.
Crutchfield agreed with Grogan.
“It is important that people understand that the BMS’ position realigned into that of more of a lobbying role. They can still make amendments, they can still raise budgets, delay votes, table things, make motions,” Crutchfield said.
Due to this, students can now hold the members who are actually allocating money accountable to students whose money it is.
However, many student organizations do not see eye to eye on this change, especially because it happened during the summer.
Crutchfield explained, saying, “This was a time sensitive issue, and we had to achieve this goal before the opportunity to waste money occurred again.”
Robert Richard-Snipes, a senior political science and woman studies double major, and executive director of the Diversity Support Coalition (DSC), expressed concerns.
“It kind of adds to another hurdle for us to jump through,” Richard-Snipes said.
“Not just for DSC, but for all student organizations, it kind of takes away from some of our agency, with spending our money,” added Richard-Snipes.
“I feel like it puts further constraints on what students here are trying to do, even with the money already allotted,” he said.
General Manager of WUNH Brendan Phelan is a senior business administration major with a marketing option that also commented.
“Having the power of SAFC is something that most schools don’t have,” Phelan said.
“…and doing this whole thing over the summer, and the fact that people noticed it and took an incentive to it, leads me to believe there should have been a discussion – whether or not it’s the right one – between the full time faculty on SAFC, BMs and Student Senators,” he said.
Richard-Snipes said, “I think it’s really shady because it’s those few people that are not representative of the student body.”
A petition is being used by some organizations to rescind the bylaw change.