A couple of weeks ago, the ASF Forum allocated $4,000 to the Interfraternity Council.
IFC, an association of fraternities, proposed that the money would go towards paying for a pancake breakfast to be cooked by IFC for women living in Stu Han, in addition to Greek Week and beautification purposes.
While the reasons listed above may be deemed important by many students, to others they are not. Greek Week is simply not something that all students would be interested in attending. Also, most students are commuters and sadly will not enjoy the yummy pancake breakfast. This decision seems problematic since Greek organizations have never asked for help with funding Greek Week, since they also have their own individual budgets.
This decision demonstrates that a problem lies with the students who hold the decision making power on campus. A majority of ASF members are also members of Greek organizations, which means that they are biased with decisions affecting them, and can also make or break a decision. As a former ASF member, I recall that an unspoken rule exists in regards to biased voting: If a Forum member is also a member of the organization proposing, they abstain. It is clearly a conflict of interest. What generally happens though, is that members do not abstain. This is not entirely the forum’s fault, because in order to have a vote, there needs to be a minimum number of votes, a quorum.
A good way to counteract this problem is by having more students run for ASF. It is important that a diverse student government makes decisions. Maybe members of AASA, LSF, ISO, Sister’s Circle and GLBTA could join ASF.
While Greek life is a positive force on this campus for many students, for others it is not. ASF needs to remember that there are many students who are non-Greek oriented. And their job is to represent all traditional, undergraduate students, not just themselves or their friends.
The reason this issue comes to mind is because of another recent ASF decision regarding Model United Nations. MUN went to ASF several times pleading for financial help. They did allocate $1,000, last semester but denied our further requests. This amount is small considering their large budget and considering their other decisions. MUN needs money because the club plans to attend an international conference in NY and discuss world issues, like globalization and AIDS. For the past year members have been researching, contributing their own money, fundraising and writing papers.
This seems unfair to the students who have put in so much work. The money was given to IFC with very little reluctance, yet they showed no encouragement for MUN efforts and even suggested that we “not go” this year. ASF also acted unprofessional in not disclosing their decision in a timely, forthcoming manner, even though this is public information. It is also unfair that there is no higher body or system of checks and balances to hold them accountable and make sure that the constitution is being adhered to. Another inconsistency is that when the time comes to vote on a proposal, observers are sent out of the room. Is this allowed? If it is, it doesn’t seem right.
Aside from the MUN decision, students should take into account the bigger picture. Should we sit back while governments make decisions for us? Sure, this may seem like trivial campus politics, but what happens here is a reflection of what happens in our national government. Students should attend more meetings and ask questions, rather than just going with the flow. People in power tend to not represent their constituents, but rather their own interests. In the end, students will not enjoy the fact that their money is being used for pancakes for students who can eat at Davenport Dining Hall. And in the end, MUN is left in a financial bind. This seems unjustifiable. Is this a University or an IHOP?
Anna Roy, a senior international studies major, is editorial director of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.