It has been almost 11 months since Student Community Government’s (SCG) funding was frozen. What sparked the freezing of this funding was SCG not having enough members to meet their bylaws regarding quorum. This is an ongoing issue facing SCG that, over the past couple of months, both sides, SCG and Rhode Island College, are optimistic that a resolution is near.
Where this situation currently stands is that the college wants SCG to sign an operating agreement in order for the frozen funding to be given back.
This agreement has terms that are being negotiated between both parties. Some of the agreement’s main terms that The Anchor have gathered via interviews with SCG President Matthew Thureson and RIC President Dr. Jack Warner is that SCG employees would become RIC employees, a defined relationship between SCG and the college, RIC views it as interdependent and reducing the required number of members to meet quorum.
The relevance of meeting quorum is, that without meeting it, SCG are not in compliance with their own bylaws. Another big discussion surrounding these bylaws is that SCG are looking to update and change them, but in order to legally do so, they need to meet quorum requirements. Currently, as it’s written, SCG would need half of the 54 maximum members that can join, plus one, to be present at a meeting, which totals to almost 30 members needed.
“So, the latest draft proposes the size of the group to be 20, which produces a quorum of 11,” Warner told The Anchor in a recent interview. “That gives the organization a fighting chance of actually changing the bylaws in a way that both the college and the student government would recognize as a reasonable way to do it.”
Aside from signing this agreement, the only other way SCG can meet quorum is to obtain the necessary number of members.
In regard to what SCG and RIC’s relationship is, Warner is adamant that it is interdependent, which he explains is the language included in this agreement.
“There really isn’t a way that Student Community Government can be independent of Rhode Island College,” Warner said. “If that were true, we wouldn’t be collecting the fees, assigning office space and all of that sort of thing. The true relationship is that there’s an interdependent relationship between the two and that’s the language we’ve included in the new agreement.”
Thureson talked about this aspect of the operating agreement in a recent post-parliament meeting interview.
“Another thing is around kind of this whole like idea of whether SCG is actually independent from the college,” Thureson said. “They view it as more of an interdependent relationship. There’s a lot of parts throughout the operating agreement where they seem to suggest that we should go through the college or atleast get advice from the college to make certain changes. And SCG is just weary of kind of giving up that kind of control right now, because we are supposed to be kind of our own separate 501(c)(3) independent corporation.”
As for the term regarding SCG’s employees, Warner explained why they would need to become employees of the college.
“The employees need to be funded by student government, but they need to be college employees,” he said. “They appear in offices that we provide and they appear to anybody transacting with those people that they are college employees. Without that, there isn’t an accountability system that we can put in place. They can become what we might call rogue employees if there is no other supervision. So, that creates some liability issues for student government that you should not have to be concerned with.”
This semester’s funding for SCG was unfrozen, which Warner said was “an act of good faith.” Last spring’s funding will remain frozen until the operating agreement is signed.
As the negotiations for this agreement continue into next semester, Warner said that RIC will “continue to operate in good faith” and release next spring’s student activity fees to SCG.
“I have no plans to hold next spring’s fees. The only thing we are holding is last spring’s,” Warner added.