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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student leaders discuss club reorganization

Published: April 12, 2013
Section: News

The idea to restructure the club systems started with Student Union Treasurer David Clements ’14 and Senator at Large and Club Support Chair Charlotte Franco ’14 last summer. From there a committee was formed, made up of Clements ’14, Franco ’15, Student Union President Todd Kirkland ’13, F-Board chair and Assistant Treasurer Nathan Israel ’14, Director of Student Activities Stephanie Grimes, and Director of Athletics Sheryl Sousa ’90.

The proposal focuses on five aspects of the current system to be improved: collaboration, organizational resources, professional guidance, formal networking and communication and efficiency in allocations. Each club will be organized into one of 20 associations based on what the committee sees as its main focus. Clubs may switch associations, or be members of more than one, but must have one main association in which they have votes for the council. Each association will then have seven elected Council members to serve as an advisory committee, and one faculty advisor.

The major concern that the Steering Committee heard from club leaders in response to the proposed plan is whether clubs would be distributed less money than they usually receive due to the change. Kirkland assured that this is not the case at all, and that the method by which clubs petition for funds with the F-Board will be the exact same. Clubs will only have to alert the elected council of their association that they were asking for money for a certain event so that the clubs in the association know about events that similar clubs are holding.

There will be certain funds given to each association, however, though “The main purpose of these funds … [is] for the clubs under the Association for communication and collaboration,” explained Kirkland ’13. The association funds are for events that will endorse the sharing of ideas between clubs with similar goals.

The committee also wants to encourage clubs with similar goals to work together and communicate with each other so that they can share resources such as materials or props, similar to how organizations in the Undergraduate Theater Collective (UTC) and Club Sports already operate. The proposal for clubs was largely based off of these successful organizations. Members of the committee also reached out to other universities, including Tufts, Columbia and Penn, where similar systems of groups of clubs are successfully in place.

Another concern that students have shown is whether the process for founding new clubs will not be largely affected by the new plans. Students who want to form clubs will still have to write a constitution, and go through the regular steps. The new plans are aimed to help new clubs, who, once they have been sorted into a certain Association, would be able to learn from the Council and other club leaders the training that they missed at the beginning of the year, further emphasizing collaboration between clubs.

The committee admits that there may still be flaws to the plan, and Kirkland assured that he is open to any suggestions that students may have.

At an open forum on Wednesday to discuss the proposal, Clements, Franco and Kirkland were passionate about endorsing the system and how it can help the university.

“As new Brandeisians come through, they’re going to have the same problems that we are having now and how is it fair to them if we’re not trying to address that,” Franco said. “And for people who are late in the system, Todd, he isn’t going to be able to see any of this hard work, but we are doing it because we know what’s best for the university … and that’s why it’s important.”

The committee understands that if the plan passes, the next few years will be trial years.

“We know that it’s going to take time … And when we’re in our meetings, we’re looking at five years down the line,” Franco said.

The next step in the planning and executing of the new club structure will be to meet again next Friday to discuss the reactions to the revised proposal. The Steering Committee hopes to see the plans pass before the end of the semester, as the students’ positions in the Student Union are not guaranteed for next year, and Kirkland will graduate in May. The proposal will have to be written up as a Constitutional Amendment to be voted upon by the Brandeis student body. Two-thirds of those who vote need to say yes in order to pass the amendment.