EDITORIAL: Maintain careful eye on A-board proceedings
Applaud new transparency
On Friday, students voted in favor of an amendment to the Undergraduate Student Union constitution that will expand the size and term lengths of the Allocations Board members, including adding four members to the board, granting year-long and three semester terms to board members and clarifying that the chairperson of the board will be selected to serve a maximum of one term by A-Board members.
Since student groups raised concerns over the club funding decision-making process, the Student Union has taken clear action to reform the A-Board. The constitutional amendment is an example of this, but perhaps more importantly, new A-Board Chair Millie Wu ’18 sent club leaders an email with appeals decisions on Sunday and attached a document explaining clearly how funding decisions were reached.
This board commends Wu and the rest of A-Board for taking this simple action to explain their reasoning for funding certain events and activities while denying funds for others. While the long-term effects of the constitutional amendment remain to be seen, providing information about how and why A-Board chooses to fund events directly addresses student concerns about transparency. In a previous editorial, we called on the A-Board to include thorough explanations for their methodology beyond the one-word responses in previous decisions. In this round of funding, A-Board has done precisely this. Rather than being left in the dark or concerned about cronyism, club leaders now can understand why their club may have been denied funding, as well as compare the stated reasoning against documents showing the ideal process. When A-Board has less money to give out to an increasing number of student groups, some parties will always be disappointed in funding decisions. However, the A-Board has set a new precedent for both explaining individual funding decisions and the funding methodology at large. This newfound clarity is fundamentally democratic, and must continue into marathon decisions for upcoming semesters.
As for the new amendment, while adding more people to the A-Board may lead to lighter workloads and balance biases, it could also increase bureaucracy and make it even more difficult to schedule meetings than in the past. Some of the problems with this year’s decisions came from board members organizing and communicating primarily over Facebook rather than by means of in-person meetings, and this also caused the requisite Student Activities overseer to be left out of the process.
If A-board is to develop new rules, we also urge them to follow procedures already on the books, such as arranging meetings in person and always making sure a non-voting member of Student Activities is present.
However, the onus for holding A-Board accountable is also on the student body. Only 301 people, roughly ten percent of the undergraduate population, voted for the constitutional amendment, even though far more students have been directly affected by the controversy with many vocally decrying A-Board’s perceived errors. With increased transparency, the student body will now have the necessary information to know if their elected officials are doing their jobs properly, and it is now on us to make informed voting decisions moving forward. The Student Union is holding elections for the added positions to A-Board soon. It is vital that the student body actively engages in these upcoming elections to make sure that strong candidates are elected and that the Student Union is held to their responsibilities.