SGA looks to change organization recognition system

The Student Government Association is looking to change the system by which student-run organizations get official Indiana University of Pennsylvania recognition.

At Tuesday’s SGA meeting, senators were asked by SGA Vice President Zachery Chandler (junior, business education) and Chief Justice Chris Wetherson (junior, political science), who heads the Board of Arbitration, to consider participating as members of the Board of Arbitration, giving up their senatorial positions.

In addition to its judicial function, the Board of Arbitration is in charge of recognizing student organizations, Chandler said. Without this recognition, those organizations would lose many of the benefits offered by the university.

“They can’t reserve space; they can’t request Co-op funding, they can’t do anything on campus like an event or set up a table,” he said. “They’re treated just like an outside institution.”

Because student organizations are important, he wants them to do what they say they will be doing when they are originally recognized, Chandler said.

“With these changes, it’s going to be a little more stringent, where we want to be sure these organizations are providing a benefit,” he said.

The addition of SGA’s new CollegiateLink software will help to change the recognition procedure and the way that SGA and student organizations interact, said Allison Shumar, assistant director for Student Life/Student Leadership and New Student Success.

“We have the opportunity to build some accountability structures in for our student organizations where we know that if they receive funding, they are using their funding in a responsible way,” she said.

“We don’t even know how many service hours our organizations do. CollegiateLink will give us the ability to do that.”

However, Shumar said the changes aren’t meant to negatively impact already existing student organizations.

“The goal for the Board of Arbitration is not to hinder organizations that currently exist,” she said. “They just want to be sure that our organizations are accountable.”

Chandler said the accountability isn’t currently in place for student organizations, and there are multiple issues with the way that recognition is processed.

“Currently, there are small requirements,” he said. “They have to align with the university mission, and they have to abide by their own constitutions.”

Those constitutions are not always so elaborate or specific, Chandler said.

“As long as they have a blanket constitution that is poor and copy and pasted from the sample … they get recognition,” he said.

Another issue to tackle, according to Shumar, Chandler and Wetherson, was duplicate organizations.

“There are four honors societies that all have the same mission,” Wetherson said. “We want to cut down on that.”

“They’re just taking members out of their own seats,” Chandler said.

While the discussion is still open and Chandler said that something will have to be changed with the registration process, no policy changes have been proposed, and, according to Chandler, requirements to be imposed on student organizations are only now ready to be developed.

In other business, SGA senators were given a stern warning from Chandler not to get themselves in trouble over what is known as IUPatty’s weekend, March 7-9.

SGA senators, who are being required by the organization to commit an hour the morning of March 8 toward cleaning up around campus, are liable to removal from the organization.

“If any of you get caught doing illegal things and face conduct boards, you are no longer allowed to be here,” Chandler said as he addressed fellow SGA members.

Shumar said Indiana’s police presence will be increased for the student holiday.

“The enforcement is going to be high that weekend,” Shumar said.

“The police force will be bringing more in. They will be staffing their members for longer periods of time.”

She said the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board will have an increased presence and attributed her knowledge to university meetings that she attended as an administrator.

The budget for SGA was announced by Treasurer Derek Hanely (sophomore, mathematics) at $10,014.53, and the SGA voted on a $3,000 price ceiling for a leadership banquet, an event they will host March 10.

“SGA is hosting a leadership banquet on March 10 to recognize organizations who have shown leadership qualities,” said SGA President Marissa Olean (junior, criminology/pre-law).

She said SGA will be accepting applications from the organizations, and the event will feature a speech on leadership and a presentation of awards.