A New Semester with Changes to the Student Handbook and to the Chartering Process for Student Groups

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Many administrative changes were made on campus at the start of this semester, ranging from amendments to the student handbook to changes in the events budget system for student groups.

Every year, the deans present their annual revisions to the student handbook, and this year’s changes included amendments to the party policy and the addition of a new position in the administration.

Dean Nathan Miller stressed that most of the handbook changes were made to simplify some processes and make the handbook clearer and easier to understand. This included a more detailed explanation of the student disciplinary process, as well as a clarification on the time frame of the student conduct appeals process.

The largest change to the handbook and the administration involved the hiring of Michelle D. Ray as the Case Manager and Grievance Advisor, which is a new position on campus. According to Miller, the Grievance Advisor’s role is to help advise students navigate the student conduct system as well as take a larger role in advocating for student rights on campus.

However, the most interesting change in the handbook this year was a slight change in party registration policy. Last year’s policy was that any party over 30 students that was serving alcohol had to be registered through the OSE; however, this year’s handbook change has reduced this number to 10 students.

The changes were made using the advice of the SwatTeam, Public Safety, and other student groups on campus, explained Dean Miller. He also emphasized that the actual registration process has remained the same and that the only change to this policy was in fact the size of the party.

In addition to the changes in the handbook, there have also been sweeping changes to the student event budget system. The Student Government Organization (SGO) announced these changes in an information session on September 14.  The Student Actions Committee, or SAC, has been dissolved and event budgeting responsibility has been passed to the OSE.

According to SGO Co-President Christine Kim ’17, the reason the SAC was dissolved was because it had a $52,000 budget that was “not being used in an effective way” and that the reorganization through the OSE would allow the budget to be used more efficiently. She elaborated by saying that the DJ budget funding was being misused for alcohol and that the money could be better allocated.

According to Kim, there are now seven OSE interns who review proposals and give out money to student events.

In addition to this major reorganization of budget groups, a mandatory time frame of two weeks to review proposals was implemented, and it was also stressed that the SBC, or Student Budget Committee, is still in charge of allotting budgets to chartered groups on campus.

The SGO also announced major adjustments to the chartering process for new student groups on campus. The changes, which establish stricter standards for groups seeking to be chartered, are designed to ensure that groups receiving SBC funding demonstrate staying power, said Kara Bledsoe ‘16, chair of the Student Organizations Committee (SOC).

In order to be chartered, new student groups must “have active members, consistent meetings, and [be] in need of funding,” according to Bledsoe. Further, they must undergo a two-month monitoring process, where an SOC member will be paired with the group to ensure that it meets the new standards before officially applying to be chartered. Provided they meet the standards, groups may submit their applications to be reviewed and voted on by the SOC at the end of each semester.

Though they do not have the funding privileges of chartered groups, unchartered student organizations in need of immediate funding may request an allocation from the SOC. This grant is intended to “prove to the SOC that the group is capable of using funding from the Student Activities Budget effectively,” Bledsoe said.

Though burdensome, the changes are mostly justified in the minds of new student organization leaders.

“I think that they’re doing their best to make sure that the funds are being appropriated in the correct way. I think that it’s going to be difficult for a lot of groups to become chartered, and I think for that, it may be unfair,” said Christopher Malafronti ‘18, who is working to charter Multi, a group for students who identify with or have some claim to multiethnic, multiracial, multicultural, or multireligious heritage. However, he added, he appreciates the SOC’s willingness to work with groups on a case-by-case basis.

Ultimately, the tightening of the standards does not deter their efforts to become chartered, group leaders said.

“My plan is still to get chartered this semester and build interest as quickly as possible,” said Sayed Malawi ‘18, who is working to charter the Bird Club. “I was a little discouraged at first, but I can see that it’s reasonable that they want to know that it was legitimate before they gave it funding and access to the other benefits that chartered groups have.”

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