SGO Discusses Proposal to Dissolve SGO, SBC 

Disclaimer: The events recapped in this article detail only what was discussed in this public meeting and may not represent internal or evolving discussions on the matter.

On March 22, the Student Government Organization (SGO) met to discuss a proposal to dissolve itself and the Student Budgeting Committee (SBC).

SGO President Olivia Medeiros-Sakimoto ’25 began the meeting with an overview of a proposition presented by First-Gen/Low-Income (FLI) Council member Gaven Green ’24, a former SGO senator, to make significant structural changes to student government. Primarily, it proposed to replace SGO and SBC with a “student alliance”: a union of student organizations with two committee chairs or “secretaries.” As opposed to the current system, where SBC unilaterally allocates budgets for student organizations, the plan would have clubs split into committees by club type to work together and create their own budgets. 

“The idea is that clubs would vote on their budget together. In that sense, every club would know what every other club is doing and why they’ve got this money, they would be in this position to understand and to empathize,” Medeiros-Sakimoto noted. This provision, Medeiros-Sakimoto stated, is aimed at a lack of communication between clubs. “Right now, we’re all in competition with each other. We’re not collaborating. We are frustrated with each other’s organizations.”

The plan would also have SGO hand off its more “administrative” capacities, such as the yearly forms sent campuswide by the Internal Affairs Committee, to the Office of Student Engagement (OSE). Medeiros-Sakimoto explains that these more administrative duties did not align with the goal of SGO — to advocate for the student body. She continued that “SGO currently has too many capacities in which it orients itself on campus, for none of which we are extremely recognized.”

Bradley Holland ’27 stated that the proposal would lead to interpersonal conflicts in deciding funding allocations. 

“When you have monetary complaints, you aren’t looking at the person across from you saying you’re the reason we can’t do this event. You’re complaining to an imaginary SBC person, and I think that is a good thing,” Holland said. “I don’t want to bring the funding issue into the realm of the specific clubs themselves because I don’t think that’s helpful to anyone if affinity groups are fighting over one pool of money. That seems like a recipe for disaster and similarly for any other arbitrary division of clubs, because it is an arbitrary division at the end of the day. I think that’s why SBC exists, and I think it’s a positive.” 

Darby Creegan ’26 clarified that the student alliance proposal is intended to create a campus culture where student organizations would be incentivized to consider each other in making financial decisions. She then outlined drawbacks to the proposal, agreeing with Holland that the proposed structure could cause interpersonal conflict. 

“This is a utopian ideal of a campus where everyone cares and you have to negotiate,” she said. “It would be a radical change in campus culture being that involved with every other club’s budget and needs and making compromises and sacrifices. I agree that it could cause a lot of manufactured interpersonal tension.” 

Jade Buan ’27 raised concerns about the efficiency of the student alliance. 

“I feel like having a group like this ruins the efficiency of having SBC separate because SBC can barely get through the list of things that they have to do as a small group,” she said. “In addition to that, they don’t just plan out a budget, but they have multiple requests coming in the middle of the semester that they have to deal with. It’s really inefficient to have a big group of people to deal with those requests.”

Buan then commented on the role that SGO plays in the campus community. 

“SGO does have an important role on campus. Obviously, something has to change because I think we’re all doing valuable work, but the work is not getting done because we’re getting blocked by administration and don’t have enough power to do what we want to do,” she added. “I think that’s something we have to fix and reform internally rather than creating a whole organization.” 

However, SGO President Medeiros-Sakimoto disagreed that there is hope for reform within the organization, and stressed a need for a radical change. 

“I’ve held on for my whole Swarthmore experience and I can tell you that nothing is different from my first year, despite how many conversations I’ve had with administrators, how many times I’ve cried to Stephanie Ives about not being able to make a difference on this campus,” she shared. “No matter what you think about how we could possibly change SGO,  I would flip it on its head and say you’re being too idealistic about our abilities. I would say that we are not so out of the park with this idea of just radically changing everything if it’s a system that doesn’t work and makes us all feel like we’re not being productive.” 

Medeiros emphasized that the proposed reforms would give the student alliance more freedom than SGO currently has. 

“This will give us autonomy rather than having to go to administrators or ask for help on things,” she said. “It would focus more on the students’ ability to dictate what they are able to do with the Student Academic Fund (SAF) in particular, whereas currently we’re focused on a lot of initiatives that are trying to make administration change life on campus. It feels like we keep hitting the wall, so why don’t we just focus on what is in our control and what we do have power over?”

Matt Gutow ’25 questioned whether the new student alliance would have more autonomy, citing administration’s freeze of club budget funds from Dec. 2023 to Jan. 2024. 

“Do we really have control of the SAF? Administration stopped letting people spend money as soon as they spent money on things the college didn’t want them to spend money on,” he stated. 

Medeiros-Sakimoto then took a hand vote from SGO members on whether they were willing to further discuss the proposal. All members present except for one voted yes. 

She then concluded the meeting by emphasizing the upcoming Student Organizations Plenary on April 1 from 7-9 p.m. in the Intercultural Center (IC) Dome. All student organizations are encouraged by the SGO to send a representative to the event.

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