SGA should make recognition rationale public

At issue: Opaque appeal process keeps student body in the dark. Our take: SGA needs to disclose its reasoning.

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • February 23, 2012

 

With steadily rising tuition costs, Emerson students know firsthand that money doesn’t grow on trees. Each semester, crestfallen organizations are denied funding from the Student Government Association because there simply isn’t enough cash in the pot for everyone. SGA recognition is something that needs to be earned; to receive a slice of the student activities fee, an organization ought to prove itself. 

Thus, student government officials have the difficult task of breaking the hearts of thinkers and doers who need some help relieving the cost of their passion projects. This week, a mere 21 percent of applicants were submitted for approval, but the justification for that figure is anything but transparent. 

The closed nature of the appeals process keeps SGA’s reasoning iin the dark to the average Emerson student. At no point does the content of an appeal for recognition stop pertaining to all of us—our leaders determine whether our organizations are eligible to receive our money. As such, SGA is responsible to justify their verdicts to the student body. If a decision is perceived to be unfair or irrational, our leaders deserve to answer for it. It is impossible to hold them accountable if the Organization Recognition and Review Board (OORB) continues to operate in private. 

Just as appeals for special funds become public record in SGA sessions, the student body at large should be privy to the rationale that determines how our student activities fees are spent. Confiding their reasons for rejection to organization leaders may enable stronger appeals in the future, but the reasoning behind SGA’s choices should be everyone’s business. 

Rejection isn’t easy or fun—and it’s a necessary part of the process. All we’re asking is to understand why. Whether a group was denied funding due to an insurance liability, a lack of presence on campus, or redundancy of its mission, SGA has established channels through which they can each try, try again. From hosting workshops to better prepare those organizations to appeal next semester, to making suggestions to strengthen their chances of recognition, groups should not feel discouraged.

Furthermore, we don’t believe that paperwork alone is the best way to gauge the merits of an organization seeking funding. While SGA representatives stay abreast of Emerson organizations by virtue of living and working on campus, they should show more initiative in auditing groups who depend on their knowledge and discernment. 

If trusting self-reported information were a reliable way to make those calls, the Beacon wouldn’t send reporters to SGA sessions each week. OORB members who take their responsibility as seriously as it demands would drop in on the groups they’re charged with evaluating.