Greeks denied access to SFB funds

On March 1, the Student Government Association (SGA) voted down a resolution to allow fraternities and sororities to request Student Finance Board (SFB) funding for on-campus events at its general body meeting.

The resolution, backed by Eric Pasternack, junior class vice president and member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, and Mike Levy, senator of Business and member of Phi Alpha Delta fraternity, requested that SGA “supports a policy that allows Greek letter organizations to file special appropriations with (SFB) for on-campus programming that is non-Rush related.”

The resolution failed 1-20-10, with many of those part of Greek organizations abstaining.

“Greek organizations sponsor dozens of events each year that are open to the entire campus and are usually very well attended,” Pasternack said. “Yet, Greek organizations are required to fund these events out of membership dues and fundraising.”

Julia Pratt, SFB executive director, said that SGA’s decision was determined because of the exclusivity of Greek organizations. She compared the decision to SFB’s past decisions to deny honor societies funding based on their exclusive nature.

“Exclusive organizations are precluded from receiving state funds,” Kevin Kelly, vice president of legal and governmental affairs, said. “Exclusivity is defined broadly as failure to open membership to every student on campus. Greek organizations are categorically discriminatory and exclusive.”

Pratt stressed the importance of democracy within SFB’s decisions and that money was allocated “as fairly as possible” for the benefit of all students.

“All students pay the (activity) fee, so all organizations sponsored (by SFB) should be open and inviting to everyone on campus,” she said.

Pasternack said that some Greek-sponsored programs are open to all students and not exclusive. For example, according to Pasternack, during Welcome Week, Phi Kappa Psi and Delta Phi Epsilon annually co-sponsor “Say What Karaoke,” which more than 150 freshmen attend.

“The resolution that Mike and I sponsored did not say that all fraternity and sorority-sponsored events should be funded, but that (fraternities and sororities) should be allowed to request funding and that (SFB) should make the determination as is done for every other organization on campus on whether or not to fund a specific event,” Pasternack said.

While SFB does not sponsor individual fraternity and sorority events, the Inter-Greek Council (IGC) annually receives funding through SFB for purposes such as bringing in speakers who address issues that affect the entire campus.

According to Pratt, because IGC is open to all students and any student can join, SFB funds it.

Liz Galetz, IGC treasurer and member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, said that the organization has had no problem in the past receiving funding for its events.

In the past, IGC has hosted a number of speakers to address various issues. Last spring it brought speaker Mitch Crane to campus to talk about the effects of hazing, an issue that affects many organizations, Galetz said.

According to Pratt, if sororities and fraternities were considered for SFB funding, they would then be required to keep all their funds within SFB’s accounts. Some sororities and fraternities, including Galetz’s, expressed concern about this policy.

“It’s just easier to have the ability to control the money for your organization through a bank such as Wachovia,” Galetz said. “You don’t have to go through the process of submitting vouchers and waiting to get checks. Budgets are more negotiable when you discuss things as a chapter.”

According to Galetz, handling taxes is also more convenient when done through the treasurer.

During the voting, Greek-associated members of SGA were asked to abstain from voting because of a conflict of interest.

“That the members of the senate with Greek affiliations abstained is noble, and I commend their self-recusal,” S. Lee Whitesell, vice president of Academic Affairs, said.

According to Pasternack, they should not have done so.

“The decision on whether or not Greek organizations should be able to receive funding affects everyone on campus equally, members of Greek organizations and members of currently funded organizations alike,” he said.

Kelly explained that it was a resolution proposed to SGA two weeks ago. A resolution acts as a formal statement of SGA’s position. If SGA passed the resolution, it would be a recommendation to SFB to fund Greek organizations.

“If the resolution’s sponsors were legitimately concerned about relaxing eligibility requirements to receive funds from an already depleted budget, they should have presented their overtures to SFB, not SGA,” Kelly said.

Kelly also questioned the motives of Pasternack and Levy’s proposal, as both are running on the same election ticket this semester. “Their decision to present this resolution to SGA was motivated by a desire to assemble support from members of other Greek organizations,” Kelly said.

Pasternack denied this suggestion, saying, “I truly believe that the Greek community is sometimes taken for granted on campus. As a member of the Greek community, I have seen this firsthand. My decision to sponsor the Greek resolution has nothing to do with any plans that I may have in regards to the upcoming elections.”