November 21, 2004

Bowing to SG pressure, Law School joins Graduate Council

Student Government (SG) scored a victory for intra-campus unity on Monday when two Law School students joined the Graduate Council (GC). The Law School's two seats on GC had previously been vacant.

The appointment of two representatives appeared to be caused by a new Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC) guideline, passed by the Student Assembly (SA), the joint session of GC, and the College Council on November 3. Referred to in the meeting as Entirely New Guideline E, the guideline states that SGFC "may consider not recommending funding for a budget […] from identifiable professional schools [that] do not have representation in Student Government."

SGFC's funds are part of the Student Activities Fee (SAF) that is required of every entering student.

During the discussion of the guideline on the floor of the SA, fourth-year class officer Cameron Downing said, "I like your coercive spirit, Vincenzo."

Vincenzo Barbetta, chair of the Graduate Council, e-mailed the Law School to inform them of the new guideline, which was "important because several Law School RSOs come to SGFC for funds."

The first reason that Charles Floyd, one of the two Law School appointees, gave for the LSA's appointment that the law school wanted "oversight of financial dispersion within Student Government and to make sure that we got our SGFC money."

Both Barbetta and Floyd also emphasized that there was a larger issue at stake: the participation of all of the graduate divisions in SG and in the larger University community.

"One of the goals of GC is to foster interaction between the graduate schools. You don't go to the Law School, you go the U of C," Barbetta said. During floor discussion, he said, "We don't want to punish [the graduate schools] but add incentive [to participate]."

Floyd added, "We don't really interact that much with the rest of the University, and we thought that this would be a good opportunity to re-connect," Floyd said. "In the last few years we have not really been represented in [SG] and we wanted to re-establish ties."

"The e-mail kind of woke us up to the need to be involved in the University community," Floyd said.

Asked if the LSA would have appointed a representative with out receiving the e-mail, Floyd said, "I don't know. I assume we would have."

However, there were practical RSO funding issues as well, Barbetta said. "We want to make sure that we allocate funds properly and not haphazardly give out funds to RSOs that aren't giving back," Barbetta said. "The way to do that [traditionally] has been to check-in with the representative from that school. Do they make the best use of funds?"

"[Also] we want to create incentives for people to participate so that we get feedback on better ways to administer SGFC funds," he continued.

Barbetta said that he understood the concerns of an unidentified student who cried out, "Those are my fees, I want them," but emphasized that SGFC was not a sieve. "By our by-laws, SGFC is charged. We allocate money properly, and we can't do that without feedback. Through RSOs, we provide interesting, entertaining, educational events that come from pooling SAFs. If we were just giving people money back, we would cut them a check."

As part of the effort to increase awareness of SG, Carshae Davis, the other Law School student appointed to GC, was appointed to the Marketing and Publicity Committee.

"It's important to be involved on the other side of the Midway […] In the past we haven't been so involved in the campus as a whole," Davis said.