Thursday, August 30, 2007

No one claims responsibility for Union Policy Board

Last year, the University Student Court denied that it had jurisdiction over decisions made by the Union Policy Board. This year, it's the Administration. Here is the redacted text of a letter sent by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Helen Mamarchev:

August 14, 2007

Dear [student organization representative]:

Following an extensive review of the Union Policy Board Constitution, I have determined that student organizations' rights to appeal are limited to the Union Policy Board, not the Director of the Student Union or the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Therefore, any request for appeal by [your organization] must be submitted to the Union Policy Board for their consideration.

Helen L. Mamarchev, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

This places the Union Policy Board in the unique position of being its own oversight board. So if a decision is clearly wrong, you just appeal it -- to the Union Policy Board. And if they refuse to hear it, appeal that decision -- to the Union Policy Board. This is obviously an exercise in futility.

The Union Policy Board Constitution states that the Union Director may appeal policies within ten days, and he may choose to send this appeal to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, but Dr. Mamarchev's interpretation of this is that student organizations may not ask for such an appeal, not even from the Union Director. This means that, if the Union Director is somehow unable to attend a Union Policy Board meeting at which a problematic policy is passed, and the record of the meeting does not allow him adequate time to file an appeal within ten days, a student organization representative can't inform him of the problem. Instead, this must be filed with the Union Policy Board itself, which meets every month -- far too late for any appeal.

Action needs to be taken now for there to be a legitimate oversight mechanism for the Union Policy Board.

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