The Pursuit of Happiness: Eliminating Bureaucracy
Published: Monday, February 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 02:02
An unfinished version of the 2012 Student Life Report released to the press Sunday analyzes the effectiveness of the university's funding boards and the state of campus organizations, focusing on the levels of bureaucracy facing student groups. Among other things, the report, composed by the Student Life Report Committee, recommends that student groups be given more autonomy.
The administration should seriously consider adopting the report's recommendations, especially those geared toward improving the student space reservation system, the review process for student group finances and student groups' understanding of the Student Organization Standards.
The report calls for simple changes to streamline the bureaucracy student groups face, including the consolidation of the reservation system for student meeting space into one office and a single online portal. It also recommends that group officers have access to their own financial records.
The committee's most striking recommendation, however, pertains to club sanctions. At present, the sanctions for separate categories of Student Organization Standards violations are not coded. In other words, student groups have no way of knowing the exact consequences for violations or even what kind of conduct merits punishment. For the university to legitimize its authority to sanction student groups for improper conduct, administrators must more clearly communicate their rules and expectations. The consequences for violating the Honor Code or the Code of Student Conduct, for example, are explicit, and student groups should have a similarly clear understanding of the Student Organization Standards.
It's hard to believe that such basic practices are not already in place, as their absence adds a significant administrative burden for student group leaders. In addition to their day-to-day duties, these students spend an unnecessary amount of time and energy trying to understand what their groups can and can't do.
The first Student Life Report, published in 1999, helped elicit the administration's support for the construction of the New South Student Center. It is our hope that this year's report garners an equally strong commitment from the university to cutting down on bureaucratic impediments that hamper the effectiveness of student groups.