During ASUPS Formal Senate, SIRGE and De-Masc (a student group on campus) were awarded $700.00 to go towards power-based personal violence awareness programming. This is a huge success and Wetlands Magazine wishes to uplift the ASUPS’ decision in taking a strong stance against violence on our campus. This decision is not surprising to us, as the Editorial Board of Wetlands acknowledges the good intentions and hard work that the ASUPS Senate does regarding violence reduction and sustaining a vibrant campus life. The work done by the Senate is commendable and absolutely should continue.
While we are very pleased with the decision to support necessary programming on campus, Wetlands still feels that there are structural changes to the finance process that should be made. This does not reflect any individuals associated with ASUPS, as we as a publication are inherently associated with ASUPS as an official campus medium. We stand by our critiques of the finance process and hope that our concerns are taken into consideration.
All the best,
Editor-in-Chief, Wetlands Magazine
From the desk of the editors:
Editorial Note: The Editor in Chief is also the SIRGE Coordinator, a position that is wrapped up in this dialogue, but releases this editorial as the editor of Wetlands.
Sexuality Issues, Relationships, and Gender Education (SIRGE) is a part of the Office of Intercultural Engagement and Student Activities. SIRGE specifically does programming for sexual assault awareness and prevention, including things such as Green Dot, Take Back The Night, panel discussions, and various other programming aimed at reducing rates of violence. These activities are cited in official Title 9 Reports as indicators of violence awareness and prevention.
This semester, SIRGE requested money from Associated Students of the University of Puget Sound (ASUPS) to do said programming. The recommendation from the Finance Committee was grossly less than what was needed to do adequate programming. SIRGE was recommended for a total of $152 for the entire semester towards violence awareness and reduction – an amount that doesn’t even cover the cost of posters. Alongside SIRGE, other groups on campus are similarly lacking funds, including but not limited to Peer Allies.
Peer Allies is a student-group that serves as a direct resource for students who have experienced power-based personal violence. Last year, Peer Allies requested t-shirts to use as uniforms to not only spread awareness of the group, but also to solidify themselves as a formal club, and increase visibility so sexual assault survivors could access these Allies as a resource more easily. Senate made it difficult for Peer Allies to access these funds because it was not seen as a uniform or seen necessary. In the end, Peer Allies did get the t-shirts – only because the funds came out of ASUPS Capital, meaning that the shirts are owned by the university and have to be redistributed next year to the next group of Peer Allies. While this in itself it relatively benign, it becomes clear that ASUPS refuses to prioritize sexual violence awareness and prevention by making it difficult for organizations to access the materials they need in order to function.
While a recommendation from the Finance Committee is not a final verdict, being as all finance requests are ultimately approved or rejected by ASUPS Formal Senate, a recommendation that defunds violence-awareness programming indicates a lack of intentional spending in ASUPS. This low recommendation indicates a larger problem that needs to be immediately addressed: ASUPS needs to be more intentional about their spending and needs to absolutely prioritize sexual violence prevention.
ASUPS maintains the position that all clubs are to be treated equal, essentially saying the community impact from a small, limited-interest club is the same as violence prevention programming. This is a false equivalency because violence is widespread and pervasive in our society.
The severely low funding recommendation signifies indifference within ASUPS regarding violence that many students face. Specifically, power-based personal violence disproportionately affects women and marginalized people. Should ASUPS maintain the position of supporting the diverse lived experiences of the Puget Sound student body, then it must actively work to decrease violence against marginalized people. Funding programs seeking to do so is essential to practicing support for marginalized students.
It is not possible to both support the dismantling of rape culture and refuse to adequately fund violence-prevention programs at the same time.
While ASUPS maintains the position that it does indeed support and represent all students, it simultaneously allows the Finance Committee to operate with non-elected officials on it. The system of check-and-balances that ASUPS relies on is flawed because it allows members of the Finance Committee to absolve itself of ASUPS’ missions by focusing solely on numbers. The core mission of the committee is to maintain a balanced budget, allowing it to neglect considerations about the impact of its recommendations. We maintain that the committee must absolutely consider the implications of its decisions.
One of the committees core functions is to consider each incoming request individually. Complicating this is the vast array of Senate-driven, blanket-policies that either permit or prohibit funding for things such as catering, clothing, and transportation. These one-size-fits-all policies limit the capacity of the Finance Committee to make thorough decisions. If ASUPS does not trust the Finance Committee to analyze each request individually and make sound decisions, then why does it exist?
If ASUPS seeks to represent the student body, including women, marginalized people, and survivors of power-based personal violence, then it must reconstruct the way in which finance allocations are considered, weighting the requests that are inherently centered on violence reduction. As long as the University of Puget Sound continues to cite events such as Take Back The Night in its Title 9 Reports, then it needs to ensure that adequate funding is available to put on such events. It is not enough for ASUPS to simply be aware of the issues that surround campus, it must take direct actions to ensure that our campus is safe for people of all identities and backgrounds.
This does not mean defunding existing clubs or devaluing the important social events occurring throughout the year – the huge diversity in clubs is necessary for a vibrant campus life – but there needs to be a nuanced conversation about campus impact of an event before a finance recommendation is decided.
If ASUPS feels that supporting survivors of sexual violence, as well as aiding the university in complying with Title 9 requirements, is something of merit, then it fundamentally has to uplift and prioritize student-initiatives that decrease power-based personal violence.
The Wetlands Editorial Board
Aryeh Conrad, Editor in Chief
Shanna Williams, Executive Editor
Rory Wong Jacobs, Online Media Director
Natalie Scoggins, Senior Copy Editor
Kaitlyn Vallance, Events Director & ASUPS Senate Chair
Leanne Gan, Art Director
Simone Quinanola, Poetry Editor
Kailee Faber, Prose Editor