Union campaigns for SAF

March 31, 2006

The Union has begun a campaign to inform voting students about the proposed Constitutional amendment which will change how the Student Activites Fee (SAF) is distributed, according to Union officials.

After receiving enough support from the Union senate Mar. 19, the SAF amendment has been scheduled to be voted on Apr. 5 through Apr. 7. The proposed amendment attempts to allocate excess secure group funds to F-Board and a newly created Capital Expenditures budget.

Under the new changes, the SAF (a mandatory fee, 1% of tuition) will be distributed to secured groups using baseline allocations rather than percentage, or piece-of-the-pie, distributions. The result of the targeted allocations, according to the Union, will be reduced spending by secured groups, leaving more funds for unsecured clubs and organizations.

The Student Union has launched a door-to-door campaign, and is distributing flyers and pamphlets that explain the proposed changes. Weve been going doorto-door talking to people about the amendments, said Chairman of the Financial Board Harrison Chizik 07. A surprising number of people have heard about the amendment. When the people find out what it actually says they tend to be very pleased in general.

As the amendment heads to vote, some parties raise concern over the reforms it proposes. In particular, some secured groups are concerned about the changes.

The current system is in need of reform. wrote Julie Craghead 07, General Manager of WBRS, in an email statement to The Hoot. However, we feel this amendment is not the best way to accomplish it. Not only is the wording ambiguous, but the proposed amendment does not address the misuse of funds by secured groups. The proposed amendment does not encourage groups to work together to reduce costs.
BEMCo has fewer concerns, but also is not satisfied with the proposed amendment. BEMCo has stayed neutral on this issue, said BEMCos Operations executive Jonathan Sham 06. Sham himself says hes confident in most of the amendment but is concerned whether the capital expenditures budget will allocate the needed money. I feel good about the fund allocation process. However none of the members of the Student Union have been able to show us any numbers or research to document the capital expenditures of groups. That is a big concern for BEMCo.

Dean of Student Life Alwina Bennett thinks more radical reform needs to be done. I appreciate the Student Unions hard work but they are avoiding one specific issue. We can't support unlimited growth of clubs and organizations if we are committed to funding them all.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy said that more work needs to be done to fix the allocations process. I believe the amendment starts to address some of the issues with the current system, but because of the complexities of this system it will take many steps, wrote Eddy in an email statement to The Hoot.

Bennett believes there need to be some standards in regards to which clubs should get the funding. Should the student activity fee fund personal hobbies or interests? Should clubs that receive funding benefit a large segement of the campus or an issue that the campus finds compelling? These are questions that the Union and the government will need to ask and answer, sooner or later!

The Student Union reform of club funding is not limited to the proposed constitutional changes. Regardless of whether or not it passes, F -Board will undergo reform, said Senator-At-Large and newly elected President Alison Schwartzbaum 08. One idea that the Union is considering is training for F-Board members They will have more training in general so when they are doing a request they can see the big picture, said Schwartzbaum.

Schwartzbaums plans for the Student Union are not limited to financial reform. I truly believe that students are entitled to the years that they have here at Brandeis. I will be working on reforming Dining Services, Student Events and the alcohol policy, she said.

Nevertheless there is some concern that SAF Amendment will actually hurt Brandeis social life. A fun, traditional event on campus has been cut Modfest, wrote Craghead, referring to the administrations recent moratorium on the twice-annual event. If this amendment passes, another major campus event, Springfest, would also be cut because WBRS could no longer afford it.

F-Board chair Chizik thinks that there is something for everyone in this amendment: I have not met with a single person who hates all of the amendment. Even people who have harsh things to say about the amendment, support parts of it. I think this is what happens when we meet with so many people about it: we have finally created something that helps everybody.

Regarding the likelihood of the approval of the amendment by the student body, Chizik said he is cautiously optimistic.

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