Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Student sues SGA’s FAC over membership changes

The SGA Financial Affairs Committee distributes $200,000 annually to various student organizations and event planners, providing funds for everything from awareness campaigns to student outreach. It is for this reason that John Brinkerhoff, a member of the SOURCE Board of Governors, is bringing litigation against the committee for changing its membership numbers.

Proposed by first-year senator Kristen Ellis, Bill B-22-13 was unanimously passed through the SGA Senate this month, adding two new seats selected from the Senate Committee on Finance to the now 15 member committee. Brinkerhoff, who helped design the 13 member model, is challenging the bill on its constitutionality, claiming that it violates “both common sense and legal terms” set forth by Article IV of the SGA Constitution.

After this issue was brought up, a new bill, B-26-13, was proposed. This bill would ensure that the two new members would be appointed by the Senate, instead of being pulled straight from the finance committee.

“If B-26 is passed, subsequently making B-22 repealed, it would change the sponsor of the bill,” Senate Speaker Cole Adams said. “B-22 was originally proposed by a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Given the judicial review requested, the chair of that committee wanted to be listed as sponsor instead.”

The new sponsor, Gregory Poole, would also be in charge of selecting the two new members from the Senate. SGA President Jimmy Taylor, however, told Brinkerhoff he is considering vetoing the new bill until the B-22-13 is addressed.

As it stands, the other five Senate members are selected from the Senate Committee on Finance, to be joined by the SGA Vice President of Financial Affairs, the SGA Treasurer, three members of SOURCE, two student organization leaders and the FAC Advisor.

“The FAC used to have 16 members, compared to only 13 today,” Poole said. “Therefore, the Senate unanimously decided that there should be added two additional seats, for a total of 15 members, in order to better represent the student body and student organizations, to return back to historical norms, and to better reflect the monumental increase of the student population in the past decade.…The reasoning behind this is that the Senate, like the U.S. House of Representatives, has the power of the purse in the SGA. This means we have a responsibility over how student tuition dollars are spent.”

Brinkerhoff said he feels the new committee representation takes too much power out of the hands of student organizations and plans to challenge the bill in front of the Student Judiciary.

“There has never been an FAC meeting where one organization has controlled the majority,” Brinkerhoff said. “This bill takes the unprecedented step of doing just that. It will compromise the FAC’s ability to ethically offer funds and given that the SGA is a political organization, student organizations denied funding would inherently question the integrity of the process.”

Poole said he offered Brinkerhoff two compromises, but both were rejected on the basis that they do not address the addition of two new members and Brinkerhoff’s belief that it would allow the Senate to give itself more power in the future. Chief Justice of the SGA Judicial Board Benjamin Sleight has agreed to hear the case between Oct. 30 and Nov. 15.

“The hearing follows the same format as hearings in appellate courts,” Sleight said. “In broad strokes, each side has a fixed amount of time to present their case on the merits and the justices can interrupt with questions throughout. There are no witnesses or evidence because it’s all strictly theoretical. Then the justices will deliberate, vote and issue an opinion by the majority.”

Brinkerhoff said he hopes to resolve the issue before the FAC’s next meeting on Nov. 4, and said he believes everyone involved has good intentions and hopes for a “genuine discussion on this bill’s constitutionality.”

“I am challenging this bill because I want to keep the FAC functioning the way it has operated for the past several years, with integrity and above the negative politics that often characterize individual organizations on campus,” Brinkerhoff said.


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