Inside the Senate

HBS students who want to organize new clubs are about to get a great deal more certainty about the procedures they need to follow.
The Student Association Senate is expected to approve amendments to its constitution at its meeting this Wednesday that will create a new Student Clubs Committee.

Senator Chris Grosso (OH), who helped lead an ad hoc committee that developed the new policies, said the new club by-laws would help institutionalize practices and theories that are already in place.
In general, he said they reflect a belief that students should make the decisions about which clubs should be officially recognized by the school, and the scheduling of major events like balls and conferences. In addition, having the committee organized under the umbrella of the Senate should ensure that the broadest possible range of opinions is represented.

The new bylaws require the SCC to meet at least once a semester to review applications for new clubs. The new committee will publicize its meeting schedule, so prospective club organizers will know deadlines for applying.

“This is trying to give people consistency in the process,” SA co-president Mark Plunkett (OK) said, noting that three clubs applied for and were granted recognition this term.

The SCC will also be charged with reviewing whether clubs remain active from semester to semester. Clubs that fall out of “good standing” will be placed on probation and eventually could be disbanded.

Senator Kevin Mohr (OI) said one consideration was that the committee felt it should seek to “limit the proliferation of clubs” so that they do not have to compete too aggressively with each other for scarce resources like corporate sponsorships and meeting rooms. “We want to try and make sure the existing clubs are stronger,” Mohr said.

The constitutional amendment seeks to simply lay out the issues the new committee will have to confront, rather than fully defining the deadlines for applications, and the criterion for deciding whether a club is in good standing.

The SA Constitution requires that proposed amendments be approved by two-thirds of the senators, and that the provision must be described at least one meeting before the vote to approve it is held.