Proposed Relationship Statement to Limit Student Power to Fund and Recognize

Taylor Fleming & Jared Goldsmith

When a Colgate student group needs money, it will consult with the Budget Allocation Committee (BAC) to request funding. However, the new Organization Relationship Statement  under development may change how funding is distributed to student groups.

Currently, all the pressure of accepting and denying requests for funding rests on the shoulders of the students of the BAC. The proposal will undertake “enhancing effectiveness, guidance, and support for student organizations” and “connecting all groups to living the liberal arts principles,” the Relationship Statement reads. This has been in the works since November, seeking a “more inclusive, equitable, and thoughtful dispersal of funds.” In short, it will take some of the responsibility away from the BAC and give it to other organizations on campus.

SGA treasurer and committee member senior Jake Caldwell said the goal of the revised Relationship Statement is to “better define how Colgate recognizes student organizations.” The revision will revamp the process for students as well as identify who has the right to establish recognition for groups on campus.

The new system will distribute funds to the Chaplain’s Office, Africana, Latin American, Asian American and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center, recreational athletics and other groups. The Max Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE) would likely get additional funding as well.

These umbrella organizations will have the power to redistribute funds at their discretion. A large proportion of the student activities budget will also be retained in the BAC for student groups that do not fit into any of the aforementioned categories. The BAC believes this system would give students who are not involved in the BAC more power to decide how their student dollars are distributed, fostering collaboration between student groups.

“If the chaplain’s office runs out of money, they’ll have to collaborate with ALANA,” Student Government Association Liaison to Student Organizations Albert Raminfard said.

The biggest fear that the BAC has, however, is that students will lose power over their funding if organizations such as the Chaplain’s Office and ALANA don’t create their own student committees to redistribute funds. It would negate the goals of the relationship statement if faculty members decided how to disburse funds instead

of students.

“There has been much discussion from the students on how to keep this allocation process in student control and not allow it to be governed by the

administration,” Caldwell said.

If the current draft of the Relationship Statement is approved, the document will override some of the power students have under the SGA constitution.

There are certainly other concerns that are associated with the proposed changes. For this reason, they are subject to change. Since this would be a policy change, it also requires approval by the Board of Trustees. However, there is much work to be done before the board makes a decision.

“There are going to be many eyes on this document before it goes to the Board of Trustees,”

Raminfard said.

As the Relationship Statement committee works to decide if they are committed to making such changes to the student funding process, numerous entities on campus, such as the Student Activities Board and the Dean’s Office, will offer their input. There will probably be multiple student forums as well. While the Relationship Statement is expected to be approved by the Board of Trustees over the summer, the Relationship Statement committee has the option to submit the Relationship Statement without making any changes to student group funding. Currently, a draft of the Relationship Statement is being circulated to offices across Colgate’s campus. If approved, the document will go to the Board of Trustees for a final decision in June.

On top of the Relationship Statement committee, other committees have been formed to address some of these concerns. The Colgate University Recognition Board (CURB), comprised of 50 percent staff and 50 percent students, was created to review petitions for new organizations and to centralize the process. Additionally, Greek organizations are no longer defined separately, giving way to more cohesive discussions between the organization and the institution and among fraternities

and sororities.

Contact Taylor Fleming at

[email protected]

and Jared Golsmith at

[email protected]