Student groups speak out against SAC moratorium
Representatives from clubs unrecognized by SAC brought their grievances to UA meeting
October 20, 2013, 11:29 pm · Updated October 20, 2013, 11:57 pm·
At Sunday night’s Undergraduate Assembly meeting, representatives from clubs came to speak out about the moratorium in place by the Student Activities Council that prevent clubs from being recognized and, as a result, from receiving funding from the UA.
Joy Zhang, a College sophomore and founder of PennWorld, said that her organization could greatly benefit from SAC funding had they been recognized.
“I definitely think that this group could add values to the Penn community,” she said, adding that they struggled to find alternate sources of funding due to their status as an inter-cultural organization.
Others such as Seth Koren, president of Penn Secular Society and and co-president of Penn For Liberty, suggested that the moratorium itself should not be upheld.
“It was not a decision that was [made] with everyone in mind,” Koren, a College junior, said.
Koren also referenced College senior Nikolai Zapertov’s recent call for transparency and his own personal difficulties in receiving information on the moratorium. When he reached out to the Office of Student Affairs and SAC for this information, he was told that details on the moratorium did not exist or were not available to Penn students, he said.
“This is absolutely the antithesis of transparency,” Koren said.
Students like Kim Gordon, co-president of the Transfer Student Organization with Zapertov, and an Engineering senior and College junior, said that SAC recognition grants a level of exposure on campus, and the budget is important to groups like hers, which has over 300 members.
The students were led by Zapertov, a former Undergraduate Assembly member, to come to the meeting in order to voice their concerns about the SAC moratorium.
Zapertov, in a recent petition, called for further transparency from SAC with regards to how they work on the moratorium.
The moratorium was implemented last fall due to past student debt and rising facilities costs. The UA has been working with the University, but it will take time to address problems like the rising facilities costs that are causing the moratorium, Abe Sutton, UA President and College and Wharton senior said.
During the meeting, College senior and SAC chair Jen Chaquette, responded to the concerns voiced.
“If you look at the numbers … it’s literally simple math, it’s addition and subtraction,” she said. According to Chaquette, when faced with the rising costs of facilities, SAC had to choose between the moratorium and bankruptcy.
Koren responded to Chaquette, calling it “a false dichotomy” and suggesting different resolutions other than bankruptcy or moratorium.
Other members of the UA also responded to specific concerns from un-recognized groups, offering suggestions for alternative funding options.
The UA also discussed transparency in student government. In the future, Chaquette said she hopes to update SAC’s website in order to make it accurate.
She also promised that SAC is working to make sure that even recognized organizations seek alternative paths for funding.“We’re being incredibly judicious with the money we do have,” she said.
SAC held a vote last Thursday to elect five new executive board members, who say the moratorium will remain a priority for them.
Towards the end of the open forum, which lasted about an hour, Zapertov submitted his petition to the UA for consideration, which 295 students have signed.
Tiffany Zhu, UA treasurer and Wharton senior assured Zapertov that the UA will continue to try to address issues of the moratorium and transparency. “We are taking this seriously,” she said. “We will definitely take this petition into consideration.”
A previous version of this article stated that Tiffany Zhu was an UA representative. She is also the UA Treasurer.