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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Student Events and administration set dangerous precedent

Published: November 30, 2007
Section: Opinions

Over Thanksgiving break, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy accepted a proposal from Student Events that would allow the organization to spend its share of the Student Activities Fee without reporting to the Student Union Financial Board. Instead, the accepted proposal has SE trading its F-board oversight for input from the Department of Student Activities.

This proposal, and the manner in which it was approved, is troublesome because of the disregard the administration appears to have for the Student Union constitution and for student autonomy. Also, SE has yet to explain to what extent and why Student Activities is going to be in control of the money that is supposed to be earmarked for student use on student clubs; according to Student Union officials, SE has denied them a meeting to discuss some sort of compromise in this matter.

By accepting this proposal, the administration has condoned a violation of the Student Union constitution, which applies to all student clubs, including Student Events. This sets an unacceptable precedent, and shows a complete lack of respect for the system that has governed student affairs for years. The constitution is to be followed at all times, not only when it is convenient. The administration should not be a partner in constitutional misdeeds.

By the same token, SE has yet to justify stepping outside of the constitutional system. While we understand that reporting to the F-board can be a hassle, and that no group likes having its spending plans rejected, the F-board exists for a reason. The 2006 SAF amendment was put in place so that someone would be watching over our SAF money.

Prior to the amendment, secured groups were able to put tens of thousands of dollars that they didn’t spend into bank accounts, instead of giving the money back to the F-board, to be redistributed to other clubs. By having groups justify their expenses, it is ensured that our SAF money is being spent on activities taking place now. According to the result of the SAF referendum, 72.5% of voters supported this amendment, and to ignore this fact and restructure the system would be akin to telling students that their votes did not really matter.

Of course, the argument will be made that SA will act in the same manner as the F-board, making sure that our money is well spent. But do we, as a student body, want SA to have its hand in more of our events? Why does it need to have monetary input with SE as well? Also, the administration has already canceled some of the most popular, albeit controversial, events in the past, so why should we give it even more power? While we appreciate that the administration is concerned with improving our social lives, there are ways to address it that do not involve dismantling the fundamentals of the student club system.

Also, for the administration and SE to work on this proposal for two months, behind the scenes, and then give the Student Union eight days to formulate a response, with finals looming, is simply appalling. If SE and the administration wanted to change the constitution, they could have followed the amendment process, instead of dismissing the system and giving almost no time for a rebuttal.

At the root of this entire dilemma, though, is the administration’s continuing disregard for student opinion. While we are not surprised, following the way in which the gun issue was dealt with, that the administration is willing to make unilateral decisions while students are vacationing, our administrators should have more concern for student voices and more respect for students wanting to decide the way in which our money is spent. There is a system in place for handling club finances, and while it is not perfect, to simply ignore it, and then refuse to listen to student advocates, is absolutely unacceptable. We expect better from our administrators and from Student Events.