Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why is it closed? And why was it ever open?

The Student Organization Programming Center (SOPC) has been closed since the start of the semester. While I was never a big fan of it, there has been no explanation as to why this place was closed.

My cynical side wants to assert the utter uselessness of the SOPC as a reason for closing it. But there are so many other things that operate at this university without any concern for such trivialities as usefulness, so that's not a viable explanation.

I have heard a rumor that it is related to the general defunding of programming centers by the Senate Finance Committee. Links, CVSL, Women's Resource Center and the LGBT Center were apparently told they were not eligible for student funding because they don't service the entire student population. I don't think they are related, but I do want to comment on the defunding.

The reasoning for defunding them came from the newly passed Senate Finance Committee Bylaws:

VII. Criteria for Funding Eligibility
C. The applicant must:
1. Provide a critical resource, as its primary mission, not offered by other campus entities.

D. "Critical Services" consist of:
1. Student Health Facility
2. Transportation services for students
3. Professional legal services for students
4. Student housing assistance
5. Direct administrative support for student organizations
6. Child care services for students
7. UWM Athletics Department
8. On-campus student resource center, not currently funded by SAC, whose primary mission is to serve the diverse needs of all UWM students

That last part is the key. The argument is that these centers don't serve all UWM students, but rather a limited subsection of students, and therefore don't qualify for funding. But each of these were created to enhance the services for an underrepresented group, and the sum total of their efforts do serve the diverse needs of all UWM students. This seems a bit shortsighted on the part of the SFC.

The actions of the SFC must be approved by the student senate and SA President before they take effect. But as of now, this is a rather dramatic departure from previous policy and it deserves to be looked at.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how the Athletic Department is "critical" and serves "all students", but a resource center that provides a safe space and a means for community building/organizing is/does not. I do view team sports as enriching, but some people prefer to exercise on their own terms and instead be on a team whose opposition is disrespect, discrimination and a hostile learning environment. Having resource centers that focus on underrepresented or overly discriminated groups enhances the quality of the learning environment for all students.

Furthermore, it has been said that these groups are unnecessary because their mission is already carried out by the Women's Issues Director or LGBT Issues Director, etc. What have these directors done for these groups in the past? Where can members of the student body go to seek support, advice and "resources" on these matters? The centers provide a visible, accessible, active group of leaders rather than one representative that supposedly serves the entire student body.