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USG discusses student trustee election, umbrella organization guidelines, funding policy at Tuesday meeting

By Olivia Spiers

The Undergraduate Student Government senate on Tuesday revised umbrella organization guidelines, made funding policy changes and passed a resolution to change student trustee elections in a special meeting.

At the meeting, half of the senate was present to vote on the policy changes that affect registered student organization funding next year.

The senate voted April 18, after spending four hours debating, to hold a special meeting Tuesday to finish discussing agenda items for what was supposed to be its last meeting.

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Student trustee election

USG passed a resolution requesting the removal of senior administration, specifically Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Stettler, from the student trustee election process.

The governing body suggested this because the election board last year voted unanimously to disqualify candidates four times for not following election guidelines, but were overruled by Settler, said USG President Jared Stern..

To combat university administration interference in student trustee elections, the senate voted to construct a student trustee guideline committee to prevent such administrative actions in the future.

“We don’t need the administration to babysit us,” Senator Nick Shereos said. “They overshadow our voice far too often.”

Stern opposed the Graduate and Professional Student Council proposal for the faculty senate and graduate council to provide three names that the student government presidents could pick to oversee the election board.

“In my opinion, there needs to be a third party in case the board disagrees,” Stern said. “The election falls under [Stettler’s] office anyways, so the third party should be someone that she chooses.”

As a result of the opposition from USG and administrators, GPSC officials have refused to sign off on the updated student trustee election guidelines until they “put the power of appeals for said elections in the hands of students, not administrators,” GPSC president Brandon Woudenberg said in an April 20 meeting.

GPSC and USG usually sign off on a governing document to carry out student trustee elections.  

However, if the student trustee elections are carried out without GPSC’s signature, it will be in violation of state and Board of Trustee policy, which states a campus-wide election must take place in order for a student trustee to be elected, GPSC president Brandon Woudenberg said during Thursday’s GPSC meeting.

Umbrella organization guidelines

The constitutional amendment passed guidelines for becoming and operating as an umbrella organization, which it defines as a registered student organization that supervises other RSOs with similar missions.

Umbrella organizations have reserved USG senator seats on the governing board. The only exception is when the organizations are attached to departments or colleges, in which case they are assumed to represent the respective college’s senator seats.

Umbrella operational funding

An operational funding amendment, tabled indefinitely, would have granted a minimum operational funding amount for umbrella organizations that have a designated office space.

The amendment to the funding guidelines would have gone into effect Spring 2018 and would have changed the allocation of umbrella organizations funding from the body. Umbrella organizations are currently able to receive operational funding, but not event funding. Event funding is only allocated for events included in the organization’s annual programming.

The guidelines change from allocating a specific amount to giving a percentage of the USG budget to organizations.

Shereos said the amendment would have made funding easier since the body’s budget is unknown until the beginning of the applicable semester.

The percentage would have been divided equally between all the umbrella organizations listed in the USG Constitution, and wouldn’t exceed $2,000 per organization per academic year. Senator Matthew Schmidlin said this section of the amendment could negatively affect umbrella organizations, as some of the groups require more money than others.

In place of this bill, the senate passed an amendment that allows the seven umbrella organizations to receive no higher than 40 percent of the overall USG budget after receiving operational funds for the year.

The USG president initially proposed the organizations receive a 33 percent cut in operational funds in coordination with the enrollment decline.

That proposal will result in the organizations receiving the following cuts: Latino Cultural Association would go from $5,600 to $3,390; Agricultural Student Advisory Council would go from $6,000 to $4,000; Hispanic Student Council would go from $6,500 to $4,355; Saluki Rainbow Network would go from $8,500 to $5,695; Inter-Greek Council would go from $10,000 to $6,700; Black Affairs Council would go from $11,000 to $7,370; International Student Council would go from $13,764.52 to $9,222.

The total amount of umbrella organizational funding would be $40,742 for next year, not including the 40 percent of funding the organizations can request by the fourth week of the fall 2017 semester.

Funding policy changes

The senate also passed a bill revising the USG funding policy.

The amendment adds specific limitations on event funding for the more than 300 RSOs the governing body supports financially.

Currently, USG’s funding policy only specified how much money is allowed to be given to non-umbrella organizations. With the new changes, USG cannot provide funding for any event decorations, legal fees, cell phone bills or charity drives.

An updated list of all the limitations will be added to the USG website before next semester, Stern said.

Staff writer Olivia Spiers can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_spierso.

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