University News

Service funding board to identify chair

The spot could be filled via an appointments process or a campus-wide or internal election

Senior Staff Writer
Friday, December 6, 2013

With the newly created Service Group Funding Board nearing one semester of existence, leaders of the Undergraduate Council of Students are grappling with how to elect the next chair of the board.

Council leaders are deciding whether to fill the position this spring — through an appointments process or campus-wide election — or next fall, through an internal election, said Todd Harris ’14.5, UCS president.

“All of the options are on the table,” said Sam Gilman ’15, UCS vice president.

The chair is responsible for overseeing the activities of the board, which allocates $200 of baseline funding to service groups that successfully apply for it.

The position entails reaching out to service group leaders, reviewing funding requests and selecting board members, said Noelle Spencer ’14, the current chair of the board.

Spencer was elected last spring through an appointments process, in which the UCS Appointments Committee interviewed candidates and made a recommendation to the Council, which voted to approve the recommendation.

Harris said Spencer was a “logical choice” because she had “a lot of knowledge about service groups and their needs,” given her experience as both a member of the UCS Student Activities committee and as president of the service group Brown University Sexual Health.

An appointment could be the “ideal solution” if another candidate emerges with a very strong understanding of service group funding, Harris said.

The position could also be filled through an internal election at a UCS general body meeting next fall, in which interested UCS members would make speeches and then the Council would vote on the candidates.

Though only UCS members would be eligible to run in an internal election, “all interested individuals would have the chance to step forward, even if they were not on the Council,” Gilman said, citing the policy that any student can join UCS by collecting enough signatures.

The chair could also be selected through a campus-wide election this spring, in which the entire student body could participate.

“If the board ends up being as institutionalized as (the Undergraduate Finance Board) in the coming years, I can see that definitely necessitating a campus-wide election,” Harris said, noting that a campus-wide election is used to pick the UFB chair.

Several leaders of service groups that received funding from the board expressed support for a campus-wide election.

“It would be great if the whole student body could be part of this process, since service groups really affect the whole community,” said Julia Lynford ’14, co-president of Active Minds, a group that aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.

“Taking into account the whole student population, you have a broader spectrum of people, and you can make sure you find a high quality person who understands and cares about service groups,” said Faisal Khurshid ’16, a coordinator of Interfaith Exchange, a group that aims to foster dialogue about faith with Providence high school students.

“But I have confidence someone from UCS would be able to do a good job,” Khurshid added.

To hold a campus-wide election, UCS would have to change its code to include the chair of the board, said Ryan Lessing ’17, UCS parliamentarian.

Though two-thirds of the Council would have to vote to approve the code change, Lessing said he did not foresee the vote being contentious.

“I would not anticipate it being a long and drawn-out process or a controversial decision,” he said. “Something like this would be pretty routine.”

Looking ahead, UCS leaders will discuss how to fill the position with representatives from UFB, the Student Activities Office and the Swearer Center for Public Service, Harris said, adding that they will likely “settle on a plan” next semester.

Council leaders will also consider how to promote the board’s “sustainability” as an institution, given that it has only existed for one year, Harris said. “Before we create a method for electing someone to the position, we want to make sure the board is sustainable and has long-term support from the University.”

Topics: ,