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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

CAB and Senate to discuss proposed reforms

A graph comparing total attendance of CAB events over the course of the last three semesters. (Johnathan Smith)
A graph comparing total attendance of CAB events over the course of the last three semesters. (Johnathan Smith)

On Jan. 26, Community Senate introduced a resolution proposing constitutional changes for the Campus Activities Board. The initial proposal, designed to institute a system of checks and balances and provide more support for CAB, ignited debate at the meeting about the relationship between CAB and Community Senate.  Following discussion at the Feb. 2 meeting, Community Senate and CAB executives decided to postpone a vote on the proposal pending further conversation between the two organizations.  

CAB Officer Selection

Currently, all CAB chair positions are determined through an interview process. The proposal would make a single chair in four committees selected by a campus wide election. The president and internal affairs and finance chairs would still be selected by application process. According to the initial proposal, elections would allow for more accountability within CAB.

“When organizations are allowed to operate without checks, like what an election would bring, it creates very esoteric organizations that continue within themselves,” said senior and Senate Vice President Patchouli Oerther. “I don’t think CAB perfectly exemplifies that trend, and I don’t believe that they’re a completely esoteric organization, but I do think that having a vote would allow for way more people to be part of it.”

Some community members commented on CAB’s “insular” selection process, suggesting that the organization can become disconnected from the community.

“What they call ‘insular’ is us trying to be a sustainable organization with people who know what to do,” said senior and Serendipity Committee Chair Hannah Kennedy. “Bad things happen in rugby if somebody who’s never played becomes the rugby captain. It doesn’t work for that organization, and in a lot of ways it doesn’t work for CAB.”

For others, this concern is outweighed by other values.

“You can never go wrong if you give students more freedom and voice in things that they are concerned about,” said senior and Senate President Dana Hamdan. “You can only improve things and open them up.”

CAB officers used to be elected, but consistently low interest in elections proved problematic.

“We went to appointments because we couldn’t get anyone to run for elected positions,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Aaron Fetrow. “There would be maybe a CAB president and no CAB board running, so we’d essentially be appointing them anyway.”

Oerther does not believe finding willing candidates will be a problem.

“We could have elections now because of the hard work they’ve done this year,” said Oerther. “Their events improved so much over the past year, and they’re a much healthier organization. I think their work enabled the interest for elections.”

“There’s a real legitimacy to having a democratic election for those positions,” said Fetrow. “That’s great as long as we have people to run. If we’re going to have an election, let’s have an election.”

CAB’s Budget

The resolution also proposes Senate oversight of CAB’s budget. Last spring, Senate decided to remove CAB’s budget from Senate’s oversight. This resolution would undo that decision.

“Last year’s Senate decided to remove CAB (from the student organization list) and give it a staff advisor who doesn’t have this conflict of interest like a student who wants power and access to the student activity fees,” said Fetrow. “Ideally, a staff member wants as many programs that can happen, to happen, and wants CAB to spend effectively and effectively plan programs.”

 “We realized that we had to stop telling CAB how to do their jobs because it clearly wasn’t working,” said Kennedy, who was a senator when Senate ceased oversight of CAB’s budget. “Senate is a policy-based organization, and CAB is a programming board; we could not tell them how to do their job.”

There are now concerns about CAB’s independent budget.

 “They would be asked to submit a budget proposal in the spring just like any other student organization,” said Hamdan. “It would be fair, just and equal to all student organizations. It’s basic checks and balances.”

Kennedy disagrees.

“By definition, having student organizations have the money split so that Senate isn’t the only organization with control of that money is checks and balances,” said Kennedy. “Division of power equals checks and balances … That’s what checks and balances are, and that’s what we did last year.”

Other Senate members see different reasons to give Senate oversight of CAB’s budget.           

“CAB doesn’t provide Senate an opportunity in any place to make a decision on anything about the organization,” said senior and Inter-Club Council Chair Alex Knox. “That puts CAB in a dangerously isolated position.”

Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Erin Fox says that in the current system, CAB does make an effort to be accountable to the community.

“CAB has gone to most ICC meetings, they’ve gone to Senate meetings and they participated in the student organization fair,” said Fox. “They’ve done things to stay involved in those processes. I’ve encouraged them to do that to support Senate and so that they, as student leaders, are engaged with the other student leaders.”

Oerther still believes that Senate oversight would be beneficial, especially during the budget allocation process.

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