BUS fights to save Allocation Committee seat

Jackie Valley

Three outraged members of Black United Students told the Undergraduate Student Senate yesterday that the group will fight to keep its permanent seat in the Allocation Committee.

Carla Smith, an Allocation Committee member representing BUS, said she thinks USS is “opening up a can of worms” with the proposed seat removal.

On Friday, Sean Groves, business and finance senator, proposed eliminating the three permanent Allocation Committee seats held by the All Campus Programming Board, Inter-Greek Programming Board and BUS. The proposal also includes allowing only one member of a student organization’s executive board to serve on the committee.

Groves said the proposal is an issue of fairness because all 218 student organizations cannot be represented in the committee.

Carla Smith said she thinks race is the underlying issue in the proposal.

“What you are saying is that this committee is not going to let two minority students sit on this committee,” she said. “Students are going to have a problem with this.”

Carla Smith and Academic Affairs Senator Preston Mitchum argued that expanding the Senate to create more diversity seems to contradict the Allocation Committee’s proposal to eliminate the permanent seats.

In a prepared statement to USS, Shanelle Smith, president of the Kent State chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said: “BUS has not made this a black/white issue, you have chosen to do so yourself. It is not in the interest of any minority group to constantly defend whether their program is just for ‘minorities’ or not.”

Groves said the proposed seat removal would not impact BUS’s funding from USS.

“No matter if there’s a permanent seat on the committee, if it’s a quality program brought to the committee, it will get funded,” he said.

Sasha Parker, president of BUS, told Groves she is not worried about the funding.

Instead, in a prepared statement to USS, she said: “To take away these seats sends the message that Senate, mainly the Allocations Committee has become a ‘Good Ol’ Boys Club’ where fraternal ties run deeper than your obligation to the constituency.”

Executive Director Ross Miltner said he was not surprised by the conflict between fairness and minority representation concerning the permanent seat removals.

“Politics is a struggle of power,” he said, especially when changes are being discussed.

Even so, Miltner said the student body should have expected the proposed changes since Groves won the USS election by a wide margin on the platform of removing the three permanent seats.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that he is going after it,” he said.

Miltner said USS will not vote on the changes made in the Allocation Committee’s ad hoc process until April 11.

“It’s a democracy process,” he said. “It will go on for weeks.”

Before the ad hoc debate, USS began its first of four discussions in what Miltner calls the “Constitutional Convention” — the reformation of the entire USS.

Miltner proposed changing the name of the USS to the Undergraduate Student Government to better represents his proposed two-body student government consisting of a senate and an executive cabinet.

The proposed executive cabinet would include the executive director and directors of programming, business and finance, community affairs, governmental affairs, academic affairs, student advancement and student involvement.

Sixteen undergraduate students would be elected for one-year terms to the proposed Senate, which would include representation from class standings, academic colleges and living situations.

Miltner said he thinks his proposed changes would “strengthen and diversify student representation” in Kent State’s student government.

University Affairs Senator Megan Sedello agreed with the idea but worried about generating enough student interest in the positions.

“Student involvement in past years has been low, so my concern is finding enough bodies to fill those seats,” she said.

Senators also voiced their concerns about electing freshmen, distinguishing between class standing and deciding which academic colleges should hold senate positions.

Still, the senators agreed that expanding the current Senate will be beneficial to the student body.

“I would rather be overrepresented than underrepresented,” Mitchum said.

The Senate’s next Constitutional Convention meeting is 1 p.m. Friday in Room 319 of the Student Center.

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].