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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Senate grants temporary charter to SBS

 Senate grants temporary charter to SBS
Photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus
Senate grants temporary charter to SBS

Senate grants temporary charter to SBS (Photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus)

At the end of what now stands as the longest Senate meeting of the year yesterday, two new bills listed on the minutes still had not been presented. But, while the Senate may not have addressed all the items on its agenda many people, both those affiliated with senators and guests, had the opportunity to speak and much was accomplished.

The majority of the meeting was spent discussing moving the progressive issues organization Students for a Better Society from probationary to temporary status. Last week, a complaint was filed against the organizations committee’s positive recommendation of elevating the status of the club, and the proposal had to go back through the committee.

After the proposal was considered again, the committee voted against upholding the positive recommendation to move into temporary charter, leaving the senators to make a decision with no recommendation. The positive recommendation was voted down with a vote of 4-5, as the committee found that, while the organization was unique, it was unstable.

The list of those who would speak during Speaker’s Podium yesterday stretched from the top to the bottom of the whiteboard in the Hughes-Trigg forum, and the vast majority of speakers were there to encourage the Senate to support SBS by not accepting the committee’s recommendation.

LCI Director Carol Clyde, Chaplain William Finnin, two members of SBS and two students who are not members of SBS all gave speeches sharing their personal experiences with the group, and their reasons for supporting it.

Scott Ellison, sustainability chair of SBS, represented his organization on the Speaker’s Podium, with the support of fellow members who literally stood behind him.

“This complaint makes assumptions about what SBS is that are false,” Ellison said. “SBS is not a political organization. SBS does not encourage negative actions such as violent protests. We hope Senate will support an organization that has taken a lot of work to get on its feet. We are all students of SMU wanting only the best for our school.”

During his time on the Speaker’s Podium, Finnin praised SBS for the amount of moral discourse the club brought to campus.”They are a legitimate group, and I hope that you can support a group that increases the amount a moral discourse in this community,” Finnin said.

Chris Purcell, formerly affiliated with SBS, was the only speaker on the podium to speak against SBS. Purcell claimed it provided no unique services to the community and believed that by “allowing SBS to exist, you harm other organizations.”

He cited organizations that deal with some of the same issues as SBS, such as Amnesty International. The vice president of Amnesty International and the Senate diversity chair, Rachel Ball, refuted Purcell’s argument, concluding that Amnesty is not harmed by the existence of SBS.

After the organizations committee presented its new recommendation to the Senate, Dedman II Sen. Ben Hatch motioned to remove SBS from the chartering process. He said other organizations do the same thing as SBS, and therefore it does not meet one of the three minimum requirements, which are outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, to become chartered,.

Cox Sen. Lincoln Torrey countered Hatch’s argument.

“There’s a difference between being exactly the same and being similar,” Torrey said. “An organization can be similar and still different.”

Torrey went on to cite examples such as the “Three Weeks for Relief” campaign and the Greek organizations.

“They offer similar things, but they have different flavors,” Torrey said.

Vice President Taylor Russ agreed with Torrey that it is beneficial to have a variety of organizations that support different and similar issues in multiple ways, but did not believe that the organization was coherent enough in its present form to merit a temporary status.

“My concern is that the special interests of this organization are not complete,” Russ said. “I support this movement for progressive change, I just think they need a little more time.”

Engineering Sen. Reid Varner agreed with Russ that SBS needed more time with the committee.

“It is never a good idea to just kill an organization,” Varner said. “These are our students, and we’re here to help them. I suggest giving them another week to work with the organizations committee.”

According to Organizations Committee Chair Katherine Tullos, the organizations committee did debate over increasing the time, but it ultimately had “reached a deadlock” because of the subjective nature of the requirements an organization must meet to become chartered.

The suggestion increase time with the committee did not affect Hatch’s stance.

“I understand that no one likes to vote down a club,” Hatch said. “But, we should not take our hands off and extend their time for what it seems is no coherent reason whatsoever. We need to affirm our standards today.”

President Liz Healy agreed that Senate’s standards needed to be affirmed, but not through the means such as Hatch believed.”We’re constantly addressing the issue of apathy on this campus,” Healy said. “Thank goodness we’ve got a group of students that have chosen to stand for something, get involved and make a difference on this campus. And, it is up to us to support them.”Healy encouraged senators to vote the current motion down and to compromise to find a solution that would support SBS. Upon this prompting, the first motion was shot down in a vote, and a new motion to allow SBS to work with the organizations committee for two more weeks was proposed by Varner.

“It’s up to us to help these groups,” Healy said. “So, it’s not what you feel about what the organization stands for. It’s about helping an organization that actually wants to do something. The fact that they got this far without these issues being addressed isn’t their fault – it’s ours,” Healy said. “I hope everyone supports the current motion.”

While the second motion did garner some support during debate, it was ultimately voted against. A third motion to move SBS into temporary status received only two nay votes and thus was approved.

SBS will now have all the privileges of a chartered organization except for the budget.

Though debate over SBS took up much of the meeting, much else was accomplished.

During Speaker’s Podium, Eric Johnson of the Wesley Foundation announced that SMU marketplace now has certified free trade products, such as hot cocoa and coffee. This certification ensures buyers that more of the profits are going directly to farmers as opposed to middlemen. He also thanked the Senate for helping to fund Wesley’s recent trip to New Orleans to assist with Hurricane Katrina aid.

Two new Cox senators, Kyle Carlton and Martha Fergeson, were inaugurated. Additionally, the Senate voted to approve the finance committee’s recommendation to fund in full $1,050 dollars for a French film festival, in addition to funding in full a request made by the PC Asian Cultural Committee. The organizations committee reported that the SMU Cycling Club has been removed from the chartering process after no contact could be made with any of the group’s members, and a meeting with the group’s advisor confirmed that the group has been inactive this year.

After some debate, a bill to fund $2,677.50 for the continued printing of Hilltopics was approved. The Senate also voted to approve a bill to fund the Association for Computing Machinery $1,418 to attend the ACM international collegiate programming competition.

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