Senate refuses to reinstate groups, cites poor attendance

Seth Freedland

Senate refuses to reinstate groups, cites poor attendance

The Daily Northwestern

The three student groups who had their Senate spots revoked from Associated Student Government last week battled — in vain — for their reinstatement Wednesday night.

Twenty-six student groups requested positions in Senate — a body including 22 student group seats — in early May. A&O Productions, CaribNation and Students for Environmental and Ecological Development were the only groups to implore Senate to allow them to keep representation. Instead, the three groups will be placed on an alternate list, which is used if one of the 22 senators needs to be replaced.

Executive Vice President Howie Buffett told A&O’s leadership in attendance that their organization, which brings entertainment groups to campus, “(failed) to provide a unique perspective for Senate.”

Responding to A&O Director of Finance Jenna Pilat’s statement that “we represent a large undergraduate community — the entire undergraduate community,” Executive Committee member Matt Kane said “the purpose (of Senate) is to represent a group of people … and there’s a clear lack of constituency here.”

Reassurances from ASG leadership that the permanent removal of an A&O senator would not hurt the group’s chances of receiving funds did little to calm the heated debate.

Kane told CaribNation, another group refused representation, that its attendance problems were too great to keep the cultural group in ASG.

“They had a chance,” said Kane, a Weinberg junior. “They messed up. Now someone else gets to come to the plate.”

After CaribNation’s denial, their group leaders asked to be moved up on the list of alternates. National Panhellenic Council also asked to be added to the alternate list. Senate denied both requests.

As it did for CaribNation, past Senate performance figured into the Executive Committee’s decision to eliminate SEED’s Senate seat.

Tiffany Grobelski said SEED — the only environmental group on campus — promised improved attendance at the weekly meetings.

“We took measures to fix that right away but unfortunately that’s taking a lot of weight in the decision against us,” she said after the Senate ruled against the group.

The four-hour meeting’s other debate centered on a bill calling for a “socially-conscious” finances committee to deal with the malaise following SAFB’s spring funding recommendations.

Every group that applied for ASG dollars received less than hoped for — some drastically less. The proposal — researched by the Students for Economic Justice — focused on group members’ hopes that a broader set of interests should be served when doling out funds.

“With this sort of financial power, there needs to be an effort to promote a socially-conscious committee and not laying out the agenda of the committee itself,” said Kyle Schafer, a McCormick freshman and a member of Students for Economic Justice.

Northwestern Community Ensemble Sen. Marissa Jackson agreed that too much power lies in SAFB’s hands.

“It is suggesting that one special interest group would have the power to determine where money is spent,” said Jackson, a Weinberg sophomore. “I would like to see more student support garnered.”

Despite multiple senators’ concerns that social consciousness could mean different ideas from person to person, the finance bill passed.

In other business, two internal elections produced new leaders for ASG. Student Activities Finance Board added Weinberg freshman Jenny Kim, McCormick freshman Kunal Kumar and Weinberg junior Tarun Patel as the newest senators in the fund-dispensing panel. Four non-senators also were added.

Weinberg junior Parrish Whitaker re-elected to the Executive Committee along with three non-senators — Kane, Communication junior Wardell Minor and Weinberg sophomore Samir Mayekar.

The Daily’s Angela Tablac contributed to this report.