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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Union Senate considers chartering exclusive performance clubs

Published: April 4, 2008
Section: News

The Student Union has been discussing the possibility of changing a bylaw prohibiting certain groups from becoming chartered and thus, from requesting money from the Finance Board.

To Be Announced member Amy Marsh ’08, proposed the initial request to change the bylaw. She suggested that performance groups which continually provide for the community and have stayed active for at least five years should be eligible for chartering. Marsh declined to comment before Sunday’s Senate meeting.

Performance groups, most of which are recognized, face two main issues in the chartering process. First, many are exclusionary and second, many serve the same purpose as other groups.

Union members are now looking at the possibility of changing the chartering process rather than simply make a bylaw change.

“I think the whole issue in general is a good starting point for possible further changes in the scope of types of groups that we charter,” said Class of 2008 Senator Asher Tanenbaum. “I was thinking maybe we should reform the system…wherein performance clubs would be allowed to have a separate sort of criteria to get funding.”

“Currently in our bylaws, there are a couple of counseling organizations that exclude by nature of their organization…but are chartered even though they exclude because of these bylaws,” said Senator-at-Large Andrew Brooks ’09. Brooks explained that these groups, specifically Students Talking About Relationships and Student Sexuality Information Services, require training for their members.

“So I guess the conversation is whether [the Union] should be creating special bylaws to cover performing groups like a capella and improv,” said Brooks.

“Improv groups could really use funding for coaches,” said Class of 2008 Senator Darren Gallant. He explained that it would help them to put on their shows independently.

To meet the criteria of non-exclusivity to get chartered, theater groups have found ways for all of their members to participate, through acting and crew opportunities. Improvisational and a capella groups, however, do not have the same non-exclusive options.

Marsh had discussed with Union members about changing the TBA constitution to say that those who audition for the improv group but do not become a stage member, can become an active participant as an audience member. This could be one possibility for her club and similar improv groups to bypass the non-exclusivity clause in the bylaw of the chartering process.

Brooks explained that in order for the Union to accept this as meeting the criteria for chartering, “it probably would require some sort of bylaw overhaul.”

Tanenbaum added that the Union was concerned with changing the rules because chartered groups must be unique. No two clubs can serve the same purpose. If the Union were to change this, “for all of these groups that are currently recognized that have the possibility of becoming chartered, the first one that gets to that [status] would exclude the other ones from getting it. Just because you get to the Senate for money first, doesn’t necessarily make you the best.”

“This would be a huge change from the past if we end up passing some sort of bylaw to redefine how we look at performing groups on campus for charter,” said Brooks. “But if a lot of clubs on campus will benefit from it, then it’s something that the [Senate] probably will be working on to do, but it’s going to take some time.”

With elections, seniors leaving, and fewer Senate meetings, “it may not get implemented until sometime next year” said Gallant. “I’ve been backing it, but not everyone does yet. I think that in time, they’ll realize that performance groups are important to our campus and people want them and that they need funding.”

Gallant explained that the hope is that clubs which are exclusive will be able to request funding as long as they meet certain criteria of having some open meetings and some open training sessions.