SGO, FLI, SBC Host Plenary to Discuss SAA Proposal

Courtesy of Swarthmore College

On Monday, April 1, club leaders and student government representatives met at a plenary to discuss a new coalition proposal presented by the First-Generation Low-Income (FLI) Council calling for the dissolution of the Student Government Organization (SGO) and Student Budget Committee (SBC) for a new body called the Student Agency Alliance (SAA). The public meeting, intended for student feedback, quickly became heated as students voiced overwhelming disapproval of a new plan for clubs to decide funding allocations rather than SBC. Students also expressed concerns about which clubs would remain chartered under the proposal, potential budgeting delays, and how the proposal would impact the social scene. SBC and SGO also created proposals but revoked them the weekend before the meeting. 

Gaven Green ‘24, who presented the proposal in his role as FLI Council’s “senior most member” and administration liaison, addressed many of the frequently raised concerns at the meeting’s start, stressing a focus on student unity over efficiency.

“This isn’t above reducing inefficiencies. This isn’t about fixing the wrongs of SGO or SBC and this isn’t about creating purposeful conflict between each other. This is about a need for us to come together because we have had a historically long problem here at Swarthmore College where underrepresented and minority students do not feel comfortable here,” Green said. 

Nana Asante ’26, SBC chair, raised a concern about how the immense workload of the SBC team of nine students would be efficiently split among all 120+ club leaders. Asante shared that, at this point in the semester, he has reserved a room for six hours every day for the next three weeks just to work on budget allocations for the fall semester. SBC also works over the summer so clubs can access funds at the beginning of the next semester, which would be harder for many more club leaders to organize. Additionally, SBC needs to organize and meet throughout the semester to discuss supplemental budgeting requests (Asante cited 70+ of these requests being resolved in this semester so far). Importantly, Asante and other students also noted that the separation of SBC from the club leaders allows for more private, unbiased decision-making. 

“If you’re distributing that work, it doesn’t mean that everybody is now getting 1/20th of what SBC does. It means everybody is doing exactly what SBC does, probably longer and much more convoluted because you now have to get everybody in the same place,” Asante said. 

Students also expressed confusion with the draft proposal’s rules for clubs, including a requirement of five executive leaders to be chartered, which Green said were subject to change. 

“Wyatt’s [Brannon, SBC associate] proposal had three and I was like, ‘Well what if I just put five instead?’ This was one of the areas that I think was important to discuss with a larger campus community,” Green said.

Amidst overwhelming student critique, SGO President Olivia Medeiros-Sakimoto ’24 called for ideas to strengthen the proposal and dialogue. Brannon additionally highlighted the accomplishment of student gathering, despite the confusion and discontent of the meeting. 

“I would not sign this in its current version, but there’s a reason we’re in the room. And the reason we’re in this room goes beyond just the notion of any individual proposal or any individual constitution language…The current way we’re doing things is not perfect, and I can recognize that, and I think that a lot of the other students at this school recognize that….We have to believe that there must be a better way of doing things,” Brannon said. “So I can’t say that I stand behind this individual proposal but what I thoroughly appreciate is that the FLI Council has come forward and given us something. They got us in this room. They got us to have this conversation.” 

The plenary concluded with raised tensions between FLI representatives and Chabad house members who raised concerns about no Jewish student affinity group being consulted on an addition of the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism to a portion of the document. Green responded that the inclusion was not the work of FLI council and rather that of the Student Palestine Coalition, the group referenced in the section of FLI’s proposal outlining activist history on campus.

After the meeting, Bradley Holland ‘27, an SGO senator, expressed his thoughts in an interview with the Phoenix.

 “I think this has fundamental issues in terms of efficiency, bureaucracy, and the fundamental structure is opposed to a well-functioning democratic system. There are well-intended people and this was a well-intended proposal,” Holland said. “But this is the wrong direction. And I think the students have firmly agreed with that in this meeting.”

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