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Excess clubs waste SAF money

Published: August 31, 2007
Section: Opinions


There are approximately 200 chartered clubs at Brandeis University, each with its own claims of why it deserves funding from the Finance Board. The 2006-2007 academic year was the first full year with the Student Activities Fee (SAF) reform in place, a policy change which enabled smaller clubs to get a shot at funds historically reserved for the big boys, Brandeis secured organizations. Feedback from club leaders has for the most part been positive, with the transition process aided by Treasurer Choon Woo Ha, former President Alison Schwartzbaum, and former Director of Executive Affairs Adam Gartner. Improvement aside, however, the Student Union must reexamine how it dispenses SAF money if the student body is to get the most out of its money.

Funds spent from the SAF should directly impact the Brandeis campus, the surrounding area, or at least some general community as a whole. It is not our responsibility as undergraduates to pay a significant chunk of money (1% of tuition) for students to amuse themselves behind closed doors. While organizations like The Blowfish, HELP, STAND, The Counseling and Rape Hotline, and AHORA! concretely contribute to communities (albeit not always the Brandeis community in cases such as STAND), this columnist fails to see how people jumping out of airplanes, playing obscure sports, or taking part in the worlds 12th most popular form of martial arts contributes to the greater community. Surely there are Brandesians like myself who have hobbies, but how the responsibility to pay for such hobbies should fall on the entire student body is beyond me. Many students like to sit in their rooms and watch movies;

will our SAF money soon be spent buying a DVD of Jim Hensons The Labyrinth for each incoming first year (perhaps not all that bad of an idea considering the films nearly limitless educational and entertainment value, but that might be a discussion for another day)? There are plenty of activities that I cannot afford to do on my own dime, but affordability itself is not sufficient reason for the financial burden to fall to the student body. Chartering such clubs is no less absurd than a few friends and I being able to request F-board funds to go backpacking in Europe.

The Brandeis Club Center page lists sixteen organizations under media and publications, with fifteen of those chartered or secured and thus with access to SAF money. Among them are a humor magazine, a humor newspaper, three mainstream literary publications , a philosophy magazine, and a conservative/libertarian magazine. To say that some of Brandeis publications could survive a merge is an understatement. Many of the smaller publications get allocated over $1000 each semester, and could just as easily be recognized clubs which publish online newsletters. One of the great things about Brandeis is that there are means for any student to express himself, but would the handful of loyal readers be any less likely to read if they had to log online rather than track down a hard copy somewhere in the nooks of Shapiro or Usdan? Surely, for these smaller publications any effect would be minimal, while allowing for more adequate funding in areas where a difference can truly be made.

If wasteful spending of SAF money is to end, it will have to begin with the Student Union Senate. Last year the Senate took a positive step in recognizing, but not chartering, The Flight Club, a group which would organize students who wished to accumulate hours for their pilot licenses or allow students to more passively experience the ride of a small plane, activities many students have trouble affording. Yet for every Flight Club, the Senate chartered a few new (yet same old) publications and martial arts or dance clubs that pay an instructor for expensive lessons but never put on any campus shows for the community to enjoy. This is of course not to say that no martial arts or dance club contributes to the community with shows or demonstrations, but only that very few do. While groups like the Ice Skating Club find difficulty getting the resources to practice for a campus-wide show, tens of thousands of our dollars pay for Brandeis students to have a good time doings things they should be paying for out of their own pockets or things they could be doing equally effectively with little or no cost.

It is the responsibility of our senators and finance boarders to put an end to such wasteful spending of the students money. Just because a terrible way of thinking has become precedent does not mean it has to continue. It is imperative that we, and, as our representatives, they, start saying no and end the cycle. For the politically inclined senators and finance borders who might think such action would be unwise, when up for reelection in the Spring nobody will remember or even care how you voted. If they do, well you could always run for UCC.