EDITORIAL: Students gain nothing from Union's Judiciary case
Any club that spends an entire semester bickering, obsessing over minute projects and abandoning mature communication in favor of publicly shaming and defenestrating its leadership could be expected to try operating humbly and productively the following semester. But the Student Union is no club — a point it’s attempting to impress upon the Judiciary, which is poised to decide whether the Senate and Executive Board will be rewarded for with more funding and no oversight.
If the Union’s decision to engage in self-aggrandizement sounds familiar, that’s because last spring’s constitutional review included the equally misguided proposal to change “Student Union” to “Student Government.” Students were wise enough to see through the proposed amendment’s flimsy justifications and voted it down, delivering a valuable reminder that the Union works best when it addresses community needs instead of pondering the semantic implications of its name — or, for that matter, claiming absolute power for the sake of convenience.
Addressing student needs does require funding, of course, and the clearly establishes that funding is distributed to clubs by the Allocations Board. The Constitution does not specify the source of the Union’s funding, though it states that its “benchmark” is $50,000. In the absence of clear constitutional guidance, A-Board has effectively treated the Union as a secured club, generally granting the majority of its requested funds as long as the Union demonstrates a need for them.
There’s no practical reason that a system like this, which works for secured clubs, should elicit such sustained protest from the Union. Maybe the Senate and E-Board do have a valid constitutional excuse to wriggle away from the clutches of A-Board, but the Judiciary should be wary of guaranteeing the Senate enormous funds with no oversight.
If the Senate and E-Board are upset about the size of their current discretionary fund, they should consider alternatives to allocating 80 percent of it at the start of the year to a couple of late-night snacking events. Midnight Buffet could easily join its companion extravaganzas under the umbrella of the Campus Activities Board, freeing up funds for initiatives that better reflect student needs.
Perhaps a future Union, one that demonstrates the ability to set aside politicking for two consecutive weeks in favor of implementing useful programs, will build enough trust with the University community to merit the convenience of generous funding and little oversight. In the meantime, the Union would be wise to atone for last semester’s disregard of students by rebuilding trust with them. A good start would be publishing a so that students can discuss ideas with their representatives. Senators should also consider systematically polling their constituents to determine whether their initiatives have broad appeal, and tackling persistent campus issues such as unreliable BranVans.
-Natalia Wiater did not participate in this editorial.