Duvall Introduces the “Big Change”

Duvall Introduces the “Big Change”

Stockton Duvall addresses UCOSA during the Congress meeting of the spring 2018 semester on Monday, April 16. Last week, Duvall introduced the “Big Change” which revises bylaws in UCOSA’s council system. (Ryan Naeve/The Vista)

Revised bylaws for the University of Central Oklahoma Student Association’s council system were passed during last week’s UCOSA Congress meeting, which modified annual budget allocations and introduced a three-year wait period before student organizations can be accepted to a council. 

The legislation, titled the “Big Change,” was introduced by UCOSA President Stockton Duvall to increase the delegated authority of each council and address the lack of a standardized system for increasing funding for each council when it began to oversee an additional student organization.

“We have seen that if too many new organizations join a council and the funding of the council remains the same, then each organization just keeps getting a smaller slice of the pie,” Duvall said. “We want to ensure that each organization has the resources it needs to stay successful on campus.”

To address these concerns, each of the four councils overseen by UCOSA are now limited to adding or removing student organizations once every three years during the fall semester.

For each three-year period, UCOSA’s Internal Affairs committee will review the percentage allocations of each council’s budget to determine if any changes are required. Any new budget allocations would then require the approval of the UCOSA’s Fall Legislature. 

Under the previous bylaws, councils could add or drop organizations at any point in a semester. This meant that if a council added five organizations, the previous organizations under a council’s oversight would be competing with the new organizations for funding without the council seeing a budget increase, according to Duvall.

“I am a huge advocate for the council system since it shares allocation governance with different areas in Student Affairs, but I felt there were some improvements that could be made to make the future system more successful,” Duvall said.

Other revisions to the council bylaws provided the councils with complete authority to appoint and approve their own leadership, an area that Duvall said differed between several councils.

The revisions also require that the UCOSA Congress Chair provides a period during Congress’ spring session for each council to give a presentation on their activities and that the UCOSA president or vice president meets with council leadership each fall session to discuss UCOSA’s funding. 

The council system was introduced by UCOSA four years ago to improve the allocation process for student activity fees among the university’s major campus organizations and create collaboration opportunities among student organizations with similar interests.

Previously, the system was divided into five councils that oversee the funding and operation of major areas of campus life: the Campus Activities Council, Diversity Round Table, International Student Council, Fraternity and Sorority Life Council and Sports Club Council.

As the offices of Campus Activities and Fraternity and Sorority Life merged into the Office of Student Engagement earlier this year, the revised bylaws reflected that administrative change by combining both councils into the new Student Engagement Council. 

The revisions also provided changes to UCOSA’s annual budget allocations, providing minor changes to the previous system’s financial distribution.

The Student Engagement Council was allocated 39 percent, which represented a slight decline from the combined 32 percent allocated to the Campus Activity Council and the 9 percent allocated to Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Diversity Round Table retained its allocation of 13 percent and the Sports Club Council and International Student Council allocations both increased from 5 to 7 percent, the first increases either council has seen since the system’s founding.

The remainder was divided outside of the council system, with 18 percent allocated to the UCOSA Ways and Means Committee and 16 percent allocated to the UCOSA Executive Committee, a reduction from the committee’s previous 18 percent. 

“This definitely provides a good chunk of change more than we’ve had previously, although I do wish we could have gotten more sponsorship for our country associations,” said Jared Scism, ISC faculty sponsor and assistant director of UCO’s International House. 

Representing UCO’s international student community, the ISC currently oversees 15 student associations that include organizations such as the Malaysian Student Association, African Student Association, European Student Association and Vietnamese Student Association.

The council has grown by 11 organizations since Scism took over as sponsor in 2013 and recently three more student associations applied to join the council in advance of the new three year wait period imposed by UCOSA.

Scism said that the new wait period will help ISC to maintain the allocations between the current student associations, but he said that it could potentially impact international students more than others. 

Organizations like the European Student Association are largely comprised of exchange students studying at UCO for usually only a year, which Scism said leads to those associations having large turnover rates and can result in an association going inactive.

With the new wait period, Scism said it could prevent new exchange students from reviving the organization because their visas would expire prior to the end of the three year wait period. 

“I think it does hurt our exchange students in that regard, but the overall purpose behind it is a good reason,” Scism said.

Concerns over the wait period were echoed by MeShawn Conley, the faculty sponsor of DRT, who said that such a restriction was what she was most worried about in the new bylaws.

“In the past, DRT has voted if they wanted an organization to join with the understanding that them joining would further dilute their funding, but this decision was their choice,” Conley said.

Comprised of eight student organizations focused on promoting cultural diversity and inclusivity on campus, Conley said that many organizations apply to join DRT but are rejected due to a difference in objectives. 

Only UCO’s chapter of the NAACP has been accepted to DRT within the last four years, although Conley said that DRT had been considering the addition of another student organization prior to the new wait period.

Conley said that she had raised concerns over the wait period with Duvall, but understood that UCOSA had introduced it to ensure that each council would receive adequate funding for the organizations they oversee.

For councils concerned about the wait period, Duvall said that a form will be provided that will allow a council to explain why they are requesting an exception and how the new organization would impact funding for the council’s other organizations. 

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