In light of the recent Student Life Op-Ed, we as Student Union have reached out to the author in order to clarify the block funding amendment. We also wanted to share this information to you as our constituency so that you can make an informed decision in the special election tomorrow.
The goal of the amendment is simple: to lower the barriers for students to access their Student Activities Fee. We have accomplished this in two ways—reducing the number of student signatures needed to be presented for a student body vote as well as creating an entirely new method for groups/projects/initiatives to make it to the election ballot and be voted on by the student body. This option, which requires presenting to the SU legislative bodies of Senate and Treasury, is merely an alternative to directly collecting student signatures on the petition and by no means a requirement. It does, however, make it possible for a group of a few students who want to block fund for a project/initiative to do so, based on the limited reach of only having a few people represent the group/initiative. Also, if a group/project/initiative attempts either “route” and fails, they are allowed to pursue the other one, which is where the word “may” in section c.2 of the amendment is from. (It was not intended to give the election commissioner any say about when to curate a petition or not).
In regards to the point about the approval by the Vice President of Finance, that has always been a practice followed within Student Union to make sure that the requests made abide by University policy, such as not being allowed to fund power tools or hard alcohol, for example. The purpose of including it in this amendment was to align our practices with our governing document so we can be as transparent as possible.
This amendment was proposed based on discussions had in the Student Union Financial Focus Group, which was created last semester to examine SU’s financial policies and comprised of members of Student Union and student stakeholders. In these meetings, we had the opportunity to talk to the groups that currently utilize block funding and their opinions and feedback were also taken into consideration.
We really appreciate the concerns brought forward in the Op-Ed and have personally reached out to the author to share our reasonings for the amendment. In the same vein, we wanted to share this information with you all so you can be as well informed as possible when voting in the election tomorrow. As always, please reach out to Shelly Gupta, the SU VP of Finance, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments, concerns or questions.