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Secured club status unfair to other clubs

By Zach Phil Schwartz

Section: Opinions

October 9, 2015

Secured clubs sit at the pedestal of the club hierarchy at Brandeis, entitled to many amenities to which non-secured clubs do not have access. They are not able to be de-chartered by conventional means, only via constitutional amendment. Secured clubs receive substantial sums of money and benefits, including an appeals process to the Union Allocations Board that can augment their allocated funds.

Compared to recognized and chartered clubs, secured clubs are on a whole other level. The huge boost and protection provided to these clubs is inherently unfair to the other student clubs and organizations.

Through their highly privileged status, secured clubs are classified as those most central to the campus identity, and many clubs have been around for a very long time and have seen countless other less privileged clubs come and go. This classification of clubs as more central to Brandeis than others is flagrantly unequal. It is a constant reminder to chartered and recognized clubs—some of which that have been around for a while—that they are not as important as others.

Secured clubs are allowed a special appeals process to try and secure more funds that they were not awarded before, even when they are allocated significantly more than clubs without the designation. According to the Student Union, the nine secured clubs were allotted a total of $564,882 for 2013-2014, or about 93% of their requested allocations. For that same academic year over 140 chartered clubs shared a grand total of $519,468.62, for an average of about 75% of their requested allocations for both semester’s regular marathons. Chartered clubs received an average of $3,700, while secured clubs received an average of $62,764. This is too huge a discrepancy to pass off as a higher status privilege.

The financial requests of WBRS to A-board, a secured club, were documented In the Sept. 11 issue of The Brandeis Hoot. Among the requests were an all-expense-paid trip for two people to the South By Southwest festival in Austin, TX. This secured club had requested sums from A-board almost 70 times what some chartered clubs received in addition to the six-figure number it had requested for Springfest. Although the club was not awarded the funds it sought for the trip to Texas, it still received well more than chartered clubs received.

The outward differences between the levels of clubs are obvious. The average secured club received over 17 times the amount of funds the average chartered club received in 2013-14. No recognized clubs received allocations, as per Student Union rules. Inwardly, chartered and recognized clubs were eligible for de-chartership or dissolution respectively, while secured clubs’ existence is etched in the Student Union constitution. The only method for removal is through changing the constitution. This entire hierarchy must undergo change to make the system less unequal.

There are certainly chartered and recognized clubs that have just as much merit as secured clubs, either through exceptional work or through less meaningful work on the side of the secured clubs, or both. In any event, all clubs should be considered for funding on an equal basis rather than on a basis of stature. Just because a secured club has this designation does not mean that it should be automatically entitled to significant sums of money. Allocations and immunity to dissolution should be considered based on club accomplishments, not on a perceived centrality decided years ago. Times change and clubs come and go—except secured clubs.

The entire club system is in dire need of a revamping. First of all, the hierarchy is an outdated concept, and all clubs should be considered for allocations. If they are not considered in need of allocations or do not request them, so be it. There is no need to categorize clubs unqualified for allocations based on a lack of or declined application for chartered status. All clubs should be given equal footing, and that means the three designations must go. No club should have immunity from dissolution if others do not. Most of all, clubs and organizations should not be able to accrue 70 times the allocations others do just based on stature. As shown in the WBRS case, stature does not mean secured clubs’ allocations requests are any more important than are those of their chartered brethren. Perhaps through similar reforms the inequality in the club system can be driven from Brandeis University.

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