It seems that the Student Association does not believe that all student organizations are created equal. A bill passed March 10, and signed by Student Association President Vishal Aswani, named the “Healthy Schools Act” will effectively entitle certain organizations to an automatic allocation of $2000 from the SA. In order to receive the assured allocation, student organizations will have to fulfill two main conditions. First, they must represent an entire school. Second, they must be approved by the dean of that school and the Finance Committee. In the end this bill will create unfair privilege for organizations that may not be effective.
The idea of nominating a student organization to represent an entire school is already crossing into shaky ground. It is hard to make the claim that any organization truly works on behalf of all students in a particular school.
The second condition of a dean being allowed to choose this organization is also troubling. It is important to remember that the point of a Student Association allocation process is to allow students to decide which organizations have proven they deserve this money. Putting a dean into the decision making process presents a dangerous precedent for administrative intervention in what should be a student run process.
Another issue is the expectation that a school’s dean will be well informed about which groups enjoy both a large membership and play an effective role. From curriculums to events these deans are required to manage a lot without being expected to understand the ins and outs of both graduate and undergraduate student orgs.
It is also questionable that one of the two sponsors of this bill is SA Sen. Michelle Tanney (CPS-G). This past October, debate was sparked as Tanney lobbied for an increased initial allocation for the Social and Political Interest Network, a student organization of which she is currently president. Although there is no clear connection between this bill and the conflict of interest controversy, the relationship invites suspicion of proper allocation procedures being altered for special interests.
The most worrisome aspect of this bill stems from the fact that it creates potential for a relatively ineffective student organization being allocated money far beyond its needs. Student organizations should be required to prove merit before being handed over $2000. While requesting money may not be the easiest thing to do on campus, it is more than warranted for the allocation of thousands of dollars in student money.
Logan Dobson is now bringing the bill to court, and hopefully will defeat the bill.
(Note: I would have linked to the SA Website and the bill itself; however, gwstudentassociation.com is currently “suspended”.)