The recently passed moratorium on new student groups is an unconditionally deplorable act by the Student Assembly. The S.A. has admitted that its current method of funding student groups on campus is in need of revision, but shutting out new voices and halting innovative ideas from taking shape is more than a cause for concern.
Resolution 21 stipulates that for the duration of the semester, students will be prohibited from forming new groups. Additionally, with the moratorium came the creation of an auditing task force to deter overlap between already existing groups. Both notions were indicative that the S.A. is taking its first steps toward a much-needed overhaul of the organization of student activity on campus. But the S.A. started off on the wrong foot.
What is a Student Assembly that prohibits a student’s right to assemble? The resolution’s sponsors asserted that the moratorium would be necessary in order to analyze the “problem” of an ever-growing number of student groups. According to the S.A., hosting over 900 student groups places undue strain on resources and space, citing its current method of funding groups as inefficient.
That the S.A. sees the abundance of student groups as a “problem” is a problem in and of itself. Those that backed the moratorium unknowingly presume that among 900 student groups on campus there is redundancy and overlap in what they do. But there is no such thing as redundancy when it comes to student interests, progress and thought. The student government should see a dynamic student body as a valuable asset, not as something that can be whittled away.
If it is indeed the case that resources for student groups are being inefficiently allocated, then the fault lies with the S.A.’s oversight — or lack thereof. An auditing task force should have already been in place to ensure that students’ money is being efficiently spent. Regular audits should be readily available to all students in order to hold groups accountable for their use of limited resources.
But are the S.A.’s resources really being overextended? Just a week after passing Res. 21, the group made one of its most contradictory moves yet. Resolution 22 gave the S.A. the power to divert funds meant for its long-term investment — a fund that earns interest on a $5 allocation from each student every year — in order to boost the Slope Day budget by up to $35,000. We thought the S.A.’s resources were being stretched too thin? Is funding Slope Day such a noble cause that it overrides preserving a student’s right to organize?
The Student Assembly overstepped its boundaries by infringing upon the most fundamental of rights protected by the law of the land. The right to organize on campus can neither be restricted by our student leaders, nor halted by the University itself.