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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

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Tense SEC open forum addresses internal SEC issues and upcoming Greek Life referendum

Many students, the majority of whom sported Greek attire, crowded Thwing Atrium Wednesday to attend the Student Executive Council’s open forum regarding the upcoming Greek life student activity fee (SAF) allocation referendum to take place Sept. 8 and 9.

The referendum seeks to alter the decision by the spring 2010 SEC board to cut Inter-Fraternity Panhellenic council’s SAF allocation from 6.5 to 5.7 percent. Should the referendum pass, IFC/Panhell’s allocation would return to 6.5 percent. As explained during the forum, the cut stemmed both from the discovery of an $84,000 rollover and the decision that certain Greek life events were “exclusive” and thus ineligible for SAF funding.

“SEC wants to discourage large rollovers,” said Jim Petras, president of Class Officer Collective. But Petras also stressed that the reduction in funding was not permanent. “If in three semesters or in x number of semesters, IFC/Panhell says we need more funds, the SEC could change the allocation of funds.”

John Witowski, president of IFC took the opportunity to announce the plan to donate Greek life’s rollover to the new University Center should the referendum pass. The gift, however, is contingent upon the referendum’s passage. “To remain financially stable we cannot gift this money if the referendum does not pass,” he said.

IFC/Panhell representatives also dismissed rumors that Greek Week would have to be canceled if the referendum failed. “I’m hesitant to say we’re going to cut anything,” said Panhell president Katie Seymour.

Caitlyn Powell, vice president of finance did admit that Greek life would only be able to function at current levels for 4-6 years before the rollover is exhausted. “But that will severely limit our ability to start new programs or give to new organizations,” she said. Last year, Greek life co-sponsored 34 events, which cost $14,000.

But the conversation soon veered away from questions regarding the Greek life referendum. In a rather tense atmosphere, SEC fielded a litany of questions regarding their own internal practices and that of their member organizations.

Fourth-year CWRU student Michael Lyrenmann read a prepared statement to the board harshly criticizing them for not only repeatedly suspending their constitution last year but for also not well documenting their practices.

“For the past three years as a (non-Greek) Case student, I have entrusted my hundred-plus dollar Student Activity Fee to the Student Executive Committee (SEC)…I feel that my trust has been misplaced,” he said.

Various members of SEC did admit that there were internal issues the board needed to address, including how Greek Life’s large rollover managed to escape attention for an extended period of time.

“We’re accountable to the student body,” said Media Board chair Paul Brinnel, “I want to formally apologize for the things done in the past.”

Petras insisted that the SEC was working diligently to address its issues and formed a committee to specifically evaluate the SEC constitution. This year’s SEC has already made a commitment to take a hard look at reviewing our constitution and make sure our organization runs according to it,” he said.

Residence Hall Association president and SEC president Lillian Zamecnik also dismissed the idea that the SEC was functioning without rules. The only time the constitution was suspended this year was to allow for a change of meeting time. Moreover, SEC’s non-usage of Robert’s Rules is not truly an issue. “Robert’s Rules exist as a guideline,” she said

Zamecnik also insisted that the majority of constitutional changes would be completed by December, well before any budgetary reviews.

In addition to SEC’s internal functioning, University Program Board’s large rollover was also addressed. According to UPB president Brendan Goodwine, the current rollover was roughly $70,000 and was expected to decrease to approximately $30,000 by the end of the semester. “It has been consistently decreasing,” said Goodwine.

As the open forum closed, it was re-emphasized that nothing had yet been decided and that SAF allocation was a dynamic process every year. “We do not know what the outcome of the referendum is going to be,” said Petras.

Students did not seem dissatisfied that the forum had strayed from the topic of the Greek life referendum. “I was excited it got towards SEC functioning because that’s the deeper issue,” said Lyrenmann, “I have a lot of friends in the greek system and I’m a fan of people following the rules and this is a bigger issue than just cutting funding.”

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