Groups could face ASG power shift

Ellyde Roko

Associated Student Government’s senators will discuss a new bill tonight that aims to restructure the student group review system.

A-status groups now report to advisers from both the Executive Committee, who help with programming issues, and an SAFB adviser, who helps with financial concerns.

ASG Executive Vice President Srikanth Reddy said he co-wrote the proposal on behalf of 12 student groups that want to make the group advising system more efficient.

“One of (the representatives) controls all their money. The other one controls whether or not they exist as a student group,” said Reddy, a McCormick junior. “Basically they go to the one who controls all their money. Money talks.”

The bill, an amendment in both the constitution and bylaws, seeks to make the Student Activities Finance Board the sole adviser for A-status student groups, which receive programming money from ASG.

The bill also would eliminate the Executive Committee’s involvement with A-status groups, including the ability to derecognize or demote A-status groups during the committee’s annual review of all ASG-recognized student groups. In exchange for SAFB’s review of A-status groups, the Executive Committee would take over the quarterly financial audit of B- and T- (Temporary) status groups, in addition to being their sole advisers in ASG.

Women’s Coalition Director Laura Millendorf said her group finds it difficult to keep in touch with both advisers. But she said she is skeptical of the bill because it could reduce the number of checks and balances on the ASG committees that govern student groups.

“We had some financial misconduct problems (in the fall),” said Millendorf, a Weinberg junior. “Now for annual review, we’re going through the Executive Committee, so we felt we had a second chance.”

If the proposed bill were passed, SAFB would be responsible not only for reprimanding A-status groups for financial misconduct, but also would review that group and decide if its status should be changed, Millendorf said.

Millendorf said the fact that SAFB would grow from 10 to 12 members consoled her, but added that SAFB’s expanded powers would concern Women’s Co and should concern other student groups too.

“A lot of groups haven’t really thought through the implications,” she said.

SAFB is led by the financial vice president, an unelected position, while the executive vice president is publicly elected in the spring.

If the Senate passes the bill by the required two-thirds majority next week, it would be the first change to ASG’s constitution this year.

The bill would formalize SAFB’s already growing involvement with the A-status groups, said Nit Wadhwani, A&O Productions director of finance and a former SAFB member.

“In the past it seemed as if SAFB was doing Executive Committee’s job,” said Wadhwani, a Weinberg senior.

“Long ago, SAFB didn’t really advise groups,” said Reddy, a McCormick junior said. “They just sort of distributed money. At this point, the account executives do a good deal to ensure good programming.”

Natalie Moore, co-president of Associated Spring Break, said ASB, an A-status group, could benefit from the change specifically because group members want a closer relationship with SAFB.

“We honestly haven’t had that much contact with (our advisers),” said Moore, a Weinberg senior. “We talked to them during fall supplemental funding. We didn’t get all we asked for and I think part of that is a lack of communication, a lack of understanding on the part of SAFB. It would be more beneficial if we had more contact with them.”