As groups across campus struggle to find signatures for their Special Fees petitions, one group faces a more esoteric dilemma: Sigma Nu has discovered that, according to the ASSU Elections Commission, their fraternity is not an ordinary student group – and is thus ineligible to receive Special Fees.
On Sunday evening, ASSU Elections Commissioner Quinn Slack ’11 sent Andrew Beck ’10, Sigma Nu’s Financial Manager, an email informing him that the fraternity does not qualify for Special Fees.In reaching their decision, the Commission focused on the question of whether or not Sigma Nu, as an IFC fraternity, falls under the statutory definition of a VSO, or *Voluntary Student Organization*. As laid out in the ASSU’s Joint Bylaws, only two types of student groups – VSOs and *Chartered Organizations* – may place Special Fees requests on the ballot.
However, because it is their student members, and not the University, that govern fraternities and sororities, Greek organizations are not Chartered Organizations. Therefore, Sigma Nu must be considered a VSO in order to appear on the ballot.
The statutory description of VSOs is found in Appendix I, section 4(E)1(a) of the ASSU Joint Bylaws; as defined there, they are
organizations which are intended to be (and actually are) primarily composed of student members, require no student to join, are recognized by the University, and are either open to all students or open to only those students meeting certain criteria which are established and evaluated in an objective manner by the organization. In order to qualify under this provision, the ultimate constitutional, budgetary, and policy-making authority of the organization must be vested entirely in its student members. (emphasis added)
Ultimately, the Elections Commission felt that Sigma Nu did not meet the condition in bold, above.
In his email, Slack referred Sigma Nu to the Student Activities and Leadership (SAL, formerly OSA) website, highlighting a distinction between Greek groups and non-Greek groups as the justification for this decision. While the SAL requires Non-Greek Groups to limit membership only “when necessary and using objective criteria,” Greek groups are under no such obligation.
According to Zachary Johnson ’10, ASSU Senator and Sigma Nu Social Chair, the fraternity intends to appeal the decision to the Constitutional Council.
Stay tuned for my take in Part 2: That Depends on How Subjective the Meaning of ‘Subjective’ Is.