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Senate explores changes to club recognition

The Senate began to more seriously discuss how clubs are recognized and chartered on campus as they voted to recognize Brandeis’ 261st club last Sunday.

The discussion was continued later in the week in a meeting with Student Activities administrators, and a Senate ad hoc committee is investigating areas in which there may be inefficiencies within the club recognition processes.

“If we could find a way to better allocate things, spaces and money, we would be able to get a lot more out of the actual budget,” said Senator-at-Large Lorenzo Finamore ’18, in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot.

Over the course of a year, the Senate recognizes up to two clubs every week, over half of which are chartered, said Finamore. These clubs then gain access to request meeting spaces and other resources.

“While it’s great that we’ve got a ton of people that are interested in all sorts of different things, the reality is that we do have a limited amount of space, a limited amount of funds to give clubs, so we are obviously really concerned with doing things as efficiently as we possibly can,” said David Herbstritt, class of 2017 senator and executive senator.

Finamore hopes to increase efficiency by creating more umbrella clubs. “The Undergraduate Theatre Collective, [is composed of] I think like 8 performing groups and now recently they just got Behind the Scenes, which is a group for the techies, and that works really nicely because they all can pool their resources together and know what’s going on,” said Finamore.

This year, over $400,000 were requested by clubs during marathon, but Allocations Board was only able to fund $200,000 worth of those request.

Although the Senate has no control over club funding or allocation of resources to clubs, the Senate hopes to support A-Board and Student Activities by improving the process in which clubs are recognized and chartered.

“We have a list of about maybe up to 30 clubs that may be de-chartered due to failure to hand in anti-hazing forms and anti-club renewal forms,” said Herbstritt. The Senate is working to de-charter unorganized or non-existing clubs be mandating club leaders to submit anti-hazing forms to the Senate.

While this process will clear the Student Activities office of inactive club forms, the Senate is looking to potentially change its bylaws to lengthen the chartering process.

“The next step for the Senate would be a bylaw amendment,” said Herbstritt. The bylaw amendment would require clubs wait a semester after being recognized before they apply for chartering.

In past years, not including the last, there was a precedent where clubs would request to be chartered but only be recognized and come back to the Senate a semester later and re-apply for charter, said Finamore. “Since last year, we’ve been allowing clubs to apply for both,” at the same time, he said.

Finamore sees many advantages in passing a bylaw, such as increased consistency in the Senate as well as a potential decrease in the amount of clubs requesting to be chartered.

“We want it to be a rule, but we still want it to be flexible,” said Finamore. “It’s tough because you don’t want to codify that necessarily because there are some clubs that have been effectively active for a very long time and only now are seeking recognition and chartering.”  

“Our bylaws committee is a bit more active than it has been in the past, because we have noticed a lot of things we want to change and modernize, so that could be something we see at a senate meeting as early as [next] Sunday, about the bylaw amendment,” said Herbstritt.

Herbstritt and Finamore met with Director of Student Activities Stephanie Grimes and Associate Director of Student Activities Steve Pagios last week to discuss the feasibility of making changes to the way clubs are recognized and chartered and to see how these changes would affect student activities.

“We wanted to make sure it was a positive sort of collaboration. We don’t want to blindside them with a change to something that they’ve got all over their website,” said Herbstritt about keeping Student Activities administrators informed regarding changes to the way students can apply for club recognition and chartering.

“For example, we want to make it qualification for clubs to have to attend a bystander training or to put one on for club leaders and club members,” said Herbstritt about the initiative been perused by Lucy Wen ’18, a Senator-at-Large.
By the end of the semester, both Finamore and Herbstritt plan to have begun improvements to the club recognition and chartering process. To learn more about the changes being made or or provide feedback to the Senate, students are welcome to visit their senators during office hours or come to the weekly Senate meetings every Sunday at 7 p.m. in the SCC.

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