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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Union officials pursue reform to SAF

Published: February 10, 2006
Section: News

The Student Union is forming a proposal to reform the Student Activities Fee (SAF) which is designed to increase accountability among secured groups and enforce collaboration for major campus events, according to Union President Jenny Feinberg 07.

The proposal was originally to be voted upon by the Union Senate last Sunday, but was delayed due to Union concerns regarding Archon, the university yearbook, as well as feedback from the student body, according to Feinberg.

Feinbergs hope is that the proposal will be ready by March;

however, she promises that the proposal would not be presented to the Senate until it is ready.

Though Union officials maintain that nothing is written down, several key components have been considered in the past weeks. In a Jan. 31 memo sent to Senior Vice President of Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy, Feinberg detailed the creation of a Student Programming Board (SPB) to coordinate large campus events, a capital expenditures fund to provide financial security for all campus groups, and a formal budgeting process for all secured organizations which would prevent the accumulation of organizations private savings accounts.

At this point, no formal percentages have been established for secured organizations, according to F-board chair Harrison Chizik 07. There are no hard numbers worked out, said Chizik.

Officials have suggested that the original SPB concept had its flaws, and is currently evolving. However, they maintain that the SPB as written has its strengths, establishing collaboration as a necessity for the planning of major campus events. Large campus clubs and organizations would be forced to work together on major campus events, such as Springfest, through the Student Programming Board.

The biggest and best events on campus are planned by student collaboration, said Feinberg. The more clubs you include, the more word-of-mouth publicity you have, which is very powerful on this campus.

Chizik claimed that the new system will ensure transparency of secured groups. Currently, Chizik sees evidence of poor spending and financial planning in the current operations of secured groups, particularly Archon. With Archon, there was no financial oversightWe see this kind of thing with other secured organizations.
Administration input has been mixed, according to Feinberg. Its challengingweve had the SAF on our agenda since Septemberpeople were not aware we wanted to present so soon.

Individuals close to the reform process have suggested that the proposal has received heavy criticism from administration officials including Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer, who has alternative approaches to SAF reform. Sawyer refused to comment on this point.

University President Jehuda Reinharz never received the memo pertaining to SAF reform, and has only heard about it through student publications. “I do not have enough information to form an opinion,” Reinharz said.

However, Reinharz did speak generally about SAF. “If there is a problem,” he said, “then it is a good idea to review the system.” He recognizes that some feel the current system is not quite working. “There is always a scramble for money, and lots of clubs come to see me asking for money,” he said.

Reinharz suggested that there be a strong analysis of what would work and what would not in the proposal. He also suggested a statement of principles to accompany the SAF reform. “Why are certain clubs considered 'secured'?” he asked. “Is it because of tradition? [Is it] because they serve a larger population?”

“Given the amount of money that would be transferred, and the impact reform would have across company,” Reinharz suggested that students “work with Dean Sawyer in order to listen to his views” and truly think about whether the proposal would fix the problems funding clubs at Brandeis. In conclusion, Reinharz suggests that there be a firm analysis to determine what needs to be reformed, and a statement of principles behind the changes in allocating funds. Other than these two suggestions, Reinharz insisted that he is too uninformed to make a statement on the actual proposal.
Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy could not be reached for comment at the time this article was written.

Feinberg said that there has been a great amount of recent input from students. She specifically mentioned feedback regarding the proposed SPB. There have been some concerns over whether there should be checks and balances for the SPB.
Were taking peoples feedback into accountwere listening, said Chizik.