By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Seeking to clean up after the “Big Shake-Up,” the Students’ Association Congress announced Wednesday an aggressive plan to market itself to student groups.
The plan, termed the “Alpha Project” and designed by the newly created Alpha standing committee, would make student groups of all sizes more aware of SA’s resources, abilities and budget intricacies, said Alpha committee chair Elizabeth Alvarez, author of the plan.
“We have this previous thought pattern: ‘If they don’t come to us, we don’t care,'” Alvarez told Congress, calling such seemingly apathetic groups “the most efficient to ignore. … But the fact that students are in a student group means they care about something.”
Alvarez, Administration Building representative, said a major step to present SA’s governing body to student groups would be an “Alpha packet” containing a cross-referenced guide to other student groups, several papers defining areas of SA’s budget process and a description of the executive committees-all of which would show groups what SA can do to help them serve students.
The plan was well received by Congress, including those who “lack sympathy” for groups and organizations inactive in student government.
“Maybe strict rules need to be set up where an SA liaison is a required position before they can get funds,” said Rep. Jason Knight, Edwards Hall. “We try to reach out to them, and they’re not coming to us.”
Executive president Jonathan Wilkerson created the Alpha standing committee this week and told Congress that while the plan focuses on SA’s budget, it “is not just about money. One of the things that is extremely difficult is that we struggle with open communication, staying in touch with all areas of the ACU community.”
The plan, Alvarez said, is an attempt to rectify a disparity created by the “Big Shake-Up,” which removed committees from the governmental structure.
After the Shake-Up was passed last year, such groups as the Spring Break Campaign committee, International justice Mission and Wildcat Kids stopped reporting to the executive vice president, began electing their own officers and no longer had exclusive access to the SA budget.
All student groups now may submit line-item requests at the beginning of each semester; however, the former Congressional committees have received more money, Alvarez said.
“The former SA committees are privy to information that other groups on campus aren’t privy to,” she said. “They have an advantage.”
The Alpha plan also attempts to battle a perception that Congress is financially capricious, Alvarez said, referencing an editorial cartoon in Wednesday’s Optimist that said Congress could be replaced by a “Magic 8-Ball” and an automated teller machine.
“We look like a giant, dysfunctional ATM” to many students, she said.
The packet would include budget guidelines that explain what SA will, and will not, fund. SA also would conduct several budget clinics in the Campus Center so groups could preview their budget before final submission, Alvarez said.
“I can tell you first-hand knowledge of how helpful it is to learn some of the stuff about SA,” said Chris Lemmons, president of Associated Computer Machinery. “Access to SA resources is wonderful, but we have to know they are there.”
Congress by voice vote unanimously passed a resolution encouraging future representatives and the university administration to find more ways to interact, using Thursday’s Mabee Hall visit by Dr. Royce Money, university president, as an example.