Letter to the Editor from Adriana Guida

While there are many amendments up for a vote this Monday and Tuesday in the Student Government Association (SGA) special elections, one has struck up particularly fierce debate.  The constitutional change that is up for a vote removes the clause that currently automatically gives the The Berkeley Beacon eight percent of the student activities fees collected (this is eight percent of $160 for each of the approximately 3,400 Emerson undergraduate students). We are proposing this change to the student body not to remove any funding from the Beacon and not to threaten their journalistic obligation to cover the SGA in whatever manner it deems appropriate, but because it is the only organization that receives this automatic allocation, which we feel is inconsistent with the process that all other SGA recognized organizations must go through to apply for funding. 

The Beacon is not the only organization with the opportunity to report on SGA—any of the student organizations that produce news segments at Emerson are welcome and are invited to do so.  However, none of these organizations receives automatic funding.

The Beacon will have the opportunity to submit an application detailing all of its budgetary needs to meet its constitutional obligations to publish weekly, and potentially even receive money in excess of the automatic allocation, should it demonstrate through their application that it is necessary to its operation. SGA has no interest in influencing the Beacon’s reporting—in fact, we value the Beacon’s position as an organization that has the responsibility to report on our government to the student body—whether we are favorably portrayed or not. 

But approving this change should not affect this relationship. 

The financial allocation process that all organizations must go through is heavily regulated—we have very clearly articulated requirements for organizations to outline their budgets, and money is allocated based on each organization providing the proper documentation. This process is advised by the associate dean of students, and must be approved during an SGA meeting—meetings that are open to the Emerson population.  Conversely, journalistic ethics do not change relative to funding—if something is a prerogative of the Beacon before this vote, it should remain so after.

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It is up to the student body to continue to hold both organizations accountable.  Ultimately, your vote should not be made on the basis of your support for either SGA or the Beacon—and in fact, I would encourage you to support both organizations, as they are both vital parts of the Emerson community.  Your vote is an important tool that gives you, as a member of the student body, the right to tell us what you think should be or should not be, who should lead and what rules they should follow.  I encourage Emersonians to do their reading—it will only take a few minutes, I promise—consider the arguments, and make their own choices.  We will support you no matter what you decide. 

I am always available to answer any questions or address any concerns that any member of the Emerson population may have.  It is of course my hope that you will consider supporting SGA’s efforts to amend our constitution, because I truly believe that it will help us be better representatives to the student body as a whole.  This is just one change among many that will create a more defined structure for SGA and ultimately, a better government for the students.