Early this semester, the Student Executive Council (SEC) announced the establishment of a Task Force Committee, marking a series of evaluations and prospective reforms of current SEC structure. Since then, the committee has undertaken weekly discussions and will soon present the first draft of its mission statement.
The SEC Task Force Committee, consisting of representatives from seven major student organizations on campus, aims to review the umbrella structure of SEC and discuss potential reforms for a new structure. That will be called the Student Leadership Structure (SLS) to help distinguish between current SEC structure and the planned reforms.
Currently there are eight student organizations operating directly under the SEC. They are the Class Officer Collective, the Interfraternity Congress, the Panhellenic Council, the Residence Hall Association (RHA), the University Diversity Collaborative, the University Media Board, the University Program Board and the Undergraduate Student Government. Each of these organizations, except the RHA which participates as a non-financial member, receives activity funds from the SEC and has two votes in making decisions primarily related to budgetary issues.
“Other than distributing money, we do not feel that the SEC has a big role on campus,” said Tara Tran, chair of the task force committee. “We look at peer institutions like Carnegie Mellon University and University of Rochester. Their [student organization] governing bodies are separated from [their treasuries]. However when you give organizations executive power, money and jurisdiction, that is a lot of power.”
The controversial issue is financial; organizations tend to advocate for themselves at SEC meetings in order to get more money from the budget, while each organization has the same amount of votes. Compromises need to be made when the votes come out equally. Therefore one task of the SLS will be to efficiently handle fund allocations.
Because the SEC tends to have a monetary emphasis, some SEC members feel that the student body’s awareness of the group needs to be improved.
“The SEC meets biweekly and has a lot of discussion on the budget, but most of the students don’t know about the SEC,” said Tran. “Also the focus on budget is what we are considering if we can undermine. We are looking into other purposes of the SEC and what else we can do to improve the SEC.”
Besides funding, other aspects of the SLS committee is to consider including a more efficient forum for collaboration, better advocacy for students and more accountability for student organizations.
They are also considering installing a judicial system because the SEC’s current structure can make it difficult to trace the use of funding and form collaborations between groups. Events coordinated by multiple organizations and prevention of overlapped organization duties are also under consideration.
“We are still in the phase of deciding if [the current SEC system] is working,” said Tran. “If it is working we don’t need to change. The point is how big of a change should we make and if we are comfortable in making those changes. If the SEC is doing great, we don’t have to change. Or we may completely reconstruct the current SEC system.”
The committee is having a retreat on Nov. 8 for more in-depth discussion. Within the next few weeks after that, they will issue their mission statement.
The committee is expected to propose a final resolution at the end of the semester to the SEC board, where votes will be cast on the prospective reforms.