By Marisa RussellASSISTANT COPY EDITOR
Student clubs may have to vie for office space next semester as a result of a debate amongst club leaders and the Student Government Association (SGA).
Legislation concerning the reallocation of small club office space sparked debate and two drafts were voted on in consecutive senate meetings before a final version passed.
With club office space reallocation coming up this spring semester, SGA brought legislation to the table to determine how office spaces should be reallocated and if an office space should be given to non-SGA-recognized clubs.
“Our new club relations chair Alex Engelson, and our new appropriations chair Damian Gallagher both thought it would be prudent to create a legislation to change office space allocation,” said Mark Atkinson, senior rhetoric major and SGA president. “We thought it would be a good idea.”
Current legislation calls for reallocation every four years and offers no office space to non-SGA-recognized clubs. If passed, the new legislation stated that reallocation would happen every two years, and allowed one of the 16 office spaces to be divided among non-SGA-recognized clubs. Engelson and Gallagher were both passionate about the change.
“[The two year turnover] would give more clubs more chances to have access to an office space over their four years here,” said Atkinson.“The second part of the legislation would be having one office space only for non-SGA-recognized clubs.”
Although the original legislation missed passing by a single vote on Oct. 2, the legislation was brought back to the senate table on Oct. 9. It was passed with the idea that office space reallocation will now happen every two years, but non-SGA-recognized clubs would not be given any office space.
On Oct. 2, when the legislation was brought to the senate table, many clubs were in attendance in the gallery to state their opinions on the change. Both SGA and non-SGA-recognized clubs were represented. The Inter-Fraternity and Sorority Council (IFSC) was one of many.
“I attended because as the president of IFSC I am responsible for pursuing the best interests of the entire Greek community and part of that involves working with SGA to make sure we are represented. Non-SGA-recognized clubs, including the Greek community, represent about 15 percent of the campus, which is a significant percent,” said Zoe Hoffman, senior public relations major and president of IFSC.
Graham Howe, senior rhetoric major and president of Hofstra versus Zombies, an SGA-recognized club, said, “I was not in favor of the legislation… Office space is very scarce as is… Designating an office to only non-recognized clubs is taking away from those who adhere to SGA’s policies… To share that exclusive perk with clubs who haven’t fully followed SGA’s regulations makes a convincing argument for clubs to not bother obtaining recognition in the first place.”
The room was tense, but senators took the time to hear both sides of the argument before making a decision. At the end of the night, although the legislation was short of passing by one vote, the outcome of student voices was tremendous.
“The fact that students were there and voiced their opinion on something SGA was doing was great,” said Atkinson. “Many good arguments were made for both sides. I hope both sides feel that they were heard from.”
Howe said, “I knew from the start that the legislation was a controversial one and was happy to see a full room. I’m happy to see that non-recognized clubs were dedicated enough to provide a convincing following and somewhat saddened to see the low variety of clubs that came to represent their individual organizations.”
For the first time in many meetings, the gallery was full of students who wanted to have their voices heard.
“The legislation not passing will affect IFSC because unless another solution is found, we will not have an office on campus as a permanent space to be more accessible to the student body,” said Hoffman. “I understand that there might be a better solution to allocating SGA’s office spaces and I look forward to finding that solution and bringing it back to senate.”
With reallocation still occurring this spring, Engelson and the club relations committee have worked to hone the application for office spaces.
“We realize as SGA we don’t always have the right answers. Which is why it’s so important to speak up and for students to share what they want,” Atkinson said. “We want to make sure they are heard.”