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SAFAC could get a makeover after evaluation

Most of the executive members of the 280 organizations on campus who have requested funding have met with this group of students.

The Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee, comprising 14 student delegates, was established in 1967 at the same time as the Council of International Students and Organizations and United Black Students.

SAFAC’s job is to aid all the organizations with their funding needs, to be a collaborative voice of the student body and to help organizations with all of their financial needs, said SAFAC Chair Matt Clemente.

Although the committee reviews its funding guidelines at the end of each spring semester, it had never been evaluated by an outside source until the beginning of this semester when Student Government President Danny Carvajal requested a review from Patricia A. Whitely, vice president of Student Affairs

Whitely appointed a SAFAC task force at the end of September comprising three students from SAFAC, three students from SG and three students who had no affiliations.

The task force has met almost every week since Oct. 5, and recently drafted three recommendations, which will be presented to Whitely before next semester, but Clemente is not sure when.

Final approval is up to Whitely. Any recommendation that is approved would be implemented in fall 2008, after the current SAFAC committee finishes their term at the end of spring 2008.

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The first recommendation would change the delegate positions in order to address conflicts of interest that SAFAC delegates may have, Carvajal said.

“I didn’t understand why there is a UBS seat, but not a spectrUM seat,” Carvajal said. “I feel like some organizations are getting an automatic vote.”

If the recommendation is approved, there will still be 14 SAFAC delegates, but certain chairs, such as the UBS delegate, would be replaced by a chair open to any student who successfully represents the multicultural students on campus.

“We wanted to open the positions up to more people, but we are keeping the same interview process,” Clemente said. “Instead of giving particular organizations a delegate, we decided to broaden the [position].”

Although the current composition allots some chairs to student organizations, Clemente noted that he always stressed the importance of making unbiased decisions, and delegates who are on the executive board of an organization were not allowed to speak when that organization requested funding.

Still, some students were confused by the proposed position changes.

“What is the definition of a multicultural delegate?” asked Ben Miller, a SAFAC delegate who was not on the task force, during a presentation to student leaders on Nov. 16. “I’m Irish and German. Could I be the multicultural delegate?”

The task force also made a recommendation to enact a procedure for removing unused referenda from the Student Activity Fee. For example, SG received money in the past to process teacher evaluations, but now processing is done online. Because there is still a referendum for the process, money piles up every year, but is unused.

The third recommendation decided by the task force would be to have an appeals process. Currently there is no means to appeal a decision.

According to the recommendation, organizations may appeal by filling out a form in the Student Activities Office in UC 209 by the Friday of the same week they made their original funding request. Organizations may only appeal if they believe there was a violation of precedence or an egregious oversight by SAFAC.

During SG’s Wednesday Senate meetings, both SAFAC and the organization would present their cases, and Senate would vote, requiring a two-thirds majority to make a recommendation to change the SAFAC decision.

Because Whitely approves SAFAC funding decisions and Senate bills, she would also make the final decision in the appeals process.

The appeals process would allow SG to have a role in the SAFAC process, but originally Carvajal said that he wanted SG to control the entire student organization funding process.

“This all [started]when I saw that other schools and universities had SG allocate the funding,” Carvajal said. “I couldn’t really find colleges who had a separate committee.”

Still, the ultimate decision maker – Whitely – is for anything “that improves and enhances the funding process,” but does not believe funding should be decided by SG.

“I have a personal and professional opinion that SAFAC has worked very well for us, and I believe that if SG becomes the chief budget office then it can become very polarizing,” Whitely said. “I don’t think that they should spend their time talking about money when they should be discussing other issues about the student body.”

Karyn Mesbane may be contacted at k.meshbane@umiami.edu.

Current Delegate Composition: Chair; freshman; sophomore; junior; senior; Organization at Large (3); Association of Greek Letter Organizations; COISO; Publications; SG; Volunteer, Service & Leadership; Sport and Recreation Interest Clubs Federation; UBS

Proposed Delegate Composition: Chair; freshman; sophomore; junior; senior; organization at large (3); Greek life; international student; SLC; multicultural students; sports and recreation; Student Government Treasurer

November 29, 2007

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.