By NICK WORT
IU South Bend’s weekly Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Friday, April 4, was the scene of a large debate over how funds can be distributed to clubs. Specifically, clubs who want to use this money to fund off-campus events.
“In October of 2013, the Criminal Justice Association requested funding to go to a conference in Chicago for $850 and they were denied funding. Some of the reasonings were because it was outside of the surrounding community,” said Lois Kassem, chief justice of the SGA and an officer of the IUSB chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association (ACJA).
The IUSB Quidditch Club’s recent request for $850 was granted by the SGA. This lead to a complaint from SGA senator Peter Goldstein.
“I had a grievance that was submitted to me, which means [the Judicial Council] put it under review. The grievance was against the SGA voting for something unconstitutional,” Kassem said. “The grievance that was filed said that this event is outside the surrounding community. So, the justices started reviewing it, and before our second hearing the grievance was withdrawn.”
Goldstein said he doesn’t like funding off-campus events because he views them as unconstitutional.
“But I do think that we should be fair to all the other clubs,” Goldstein said during the meeting. “Just because they are a club sport doesn’t mean that we should see them any different from an academic resource. If anything, we should try and put academics above sports.”
Goldstein then introduced three separate resolutions to fund clubs that had requested money throughout the year for off campus events.
After debate between the senators and a private senatorial session, these three resolutions were not passed. The SGA cited various reasons throughout the debate, noting that the events taking place off-campus were only a part of why these original funding requests were denied.
“We can’t fund every single on-campus thing, there has to be value to it. And the same thing with off campus events, there has to be value to the student body,” said SGA senator Amanda Bogard during the meeting. “I don’t believe that the senate voted to not fund Criminal Justice Club just because it was off campus. Was that a factor? Of course, but there are other factors.”
Other SGA senators pointed out that there is no precedent for the SGA to follow, and that the SGA does not have to follow a precedent.
“No where in the constitution does it say that because one club gets funded for something that another club automatically gets funded for the same thing,” said SGA senator Nick Sheppard Patel. “The word ‘precedent,’ I’m pretty sure, doesn’t appear once in the constitution.”
After the resolutions failed, Kassem pointed out that enough students have now requested that the funding go up for review. According to Section 4, Sub-Section 7 of the SGA constitution, a piece of legislation can go up for judicial review if at least two students request it.
Because Kassem is both the chief justice of the SGA and an officer in the ACJA, many SGA senators stated that they believe she should not be at the Judicial Council meeting that will review this legislation.
According to Section 4, Sub-Section 7 of the SGA constitution, four-fifths of the Judicial Council have to be present for there to be a quorum. Kassem pointed out that one member of the Judicial Council, Lawrence Mitchell-Matthews, is no longer active. Without Matthews or Kassem present, the Judicial Council will not have a quorum and cannot vote, which would mean that the council could not review the bill.
Although several members of the ACJA voiced the opinion that they should have received funding for their trip, many also showed their support for the Quidditch Club receiving funding.
“We are fully supportive of off-campus funding, and are glad that the Quidditch Team will be able to participate in the World Cup,” said Christina Smith, ACJA president, via email.
“At today’s meeting it was made evident that the SGA believes strongly in their power to exert their will as they individually see fit, especially in regards to their collective responsibility to be a fair and equitable agent to all students on campus,” Smith continued. “Any discussion or arguments that took place today are more of a reflection upon the internal conflict within the SGA as an entity.”
After the meeting, SGA senator Jordan Richardson voiced his opinion that the SGA does not set a precedent with past rulings.
“The word ‘precedent’ has given a lot of people a misinterpretation of the representation of Student Government,” Richardson said. “There is no precedent. There is no standard. That’s not in the constitution, that’s not in anything. We as individuals make these decisions.”