The Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution at its weekly meeting last night that will decrease the number of representatives required to serve on its Student Organization Funding Commission.
Assembly representatives arrived at the decision because attendance at the commission’s meetings this semester didn’t meet the requisite number required by MSA. The resolution — which passed by a 20-3 vote — changed the minimum number of MSA representatives required to attend SOFC meetings from half the commission’s voting members to a minimum of four MSA members.
The SOFC is composed of the Budget Priorities Committee and the Community Service Committee. BPC meets three times a semester and is in charge of allocating roughly $150,000 in funds to student organizations this semester, according to School of Music, Theatre and Dance senior Eric Maier, chair of BPC and a co-author of the resolution.
CSC, which allocated about $55,000 to student community service organizations this semester, meets twice a semester. The funding controlled by BPC and CSC comes from MSA’s budget.
Under MSA’s amended Compiled Code, more students unaffiliated with the assembly will be able to serve on BPC and CSC. According to the resolution, MSA endorses decreasing the number of MSA representatives required to serve on the SOFC “because of the high demand to serve on the commission from students-at-large and the lack of interest from voting assembly representatives.”
Maier said in an interview after last night’s meeting that there has been a lack of interest among MSA members in the SOFC.
“Not only was it hard to get reps to come up, but with the few reps we could get up we weren’t allowed to really accept that many students-at-large,” Maier said. “So we thought a better way to go about this was to have a lower minimum number of reps for both the budget and community service committee.”
LSA Rep. Omar Hashwi, who voted against the resolution, said at the meeting that he was concerned the resolution didn’t address the underlying cause of SOFC’s problems — MSA members’ failure to attend meetings.
“Is there a problem with the Compiled Code, or is there a problem with the assembly?” Hashwi said. “There’s like 30 of us right here. There’s not two of us that can serve on the commission?”
MSA President Chris Armstrong wrote in an e-mail interview after the meeting that decreasing the MSA presence at SOFC meetings won’t reduce MSA management of funds.
“In regard to MSA oversight, the entire assembly — all elected representatives — must approve funding allocation resolutions presented by the funding commissions after each funding cycle,” Armstrong wrote. “This process informs all representatives of funding allocations and increases the transparency and accountability of the funding process.”
Maier suggested that MSA representatives might be too busy to attend SOFC meetings.
“I think that the people sitting around the table are some of the most active students on campus, and they are inevitably busy,” Maier said after the meeting. “Everyone supports funding for student organizations wholeheartedly on the assembly.”
Maier said the appropriate allocation of funds was more important than MSA’s involvement in BPC and CSC.
“With this I am more concerned that the funding gets done than I am with the MSA being completely privy to what’s going on,” Maier said. “In my experience, the students-at-large are just as capable, if not more than, the students sitting around the table.”
— Jenny Rotter contributed to this report.