Responsible Citizenship amendment fails in senate

Posted by Kat Kullman

On Tuesday, March 22, the SGA senate met to discuss a resolution to amend the Responsible Citizenship Internship Award (RCIA) operating codes' focus on financial aid. The resolution did not pass.

The RCIA is a fund intended for students who have acquired unpaid summer internships and would be unable to accept them without aid.

The award is given to 30 students and provides each with $2,500 for living and travel expenses.

A committee made up of senators and Willingness-to-Serve appointees review the applications and decide to whom the awards are given.

SGA President and senate chair Alex Stark '11 brought the resolution to the senate. The resolution stipulates that two members of senate sit on the RCIA committee, as well as a former RCIA recipient.

It also addressed the issue of financial aid. Currently it is stated in the RCIA operating codes that applicants do not need to be receiving financial aid to apply, although they do need to indicate if they receive aid.

The resolution stated that the importance of financial aid in the awards decision would be left up to the committee.

Jenny Snow '11, SGA vice president for communications and outreach, proposed an amendment to this section of the resolution.

"I think it's inappropriate for the RCIA committee to decide whether the process should be need-based or not. We should decide now whether or not to consider financial aid in the application," Snow said.

Many senators agreed with this, saying the emphasis should be placed on the financial need of the student, not the financial aid they may be receiving.

Several senators said financial aid only refers to the income of a student's parents.

While the parents may be able to afford tuition that does not necessarily mean that the student has the funds to accept an unpaid internship, some senators said.

Others disagreed and said financial aid should be a requirement for the applicants, because the awards would then provide opportunities for less privileged students.

SGA Vice President for Diversity Affairs Sulin Ngo '11 expressed concern about a change in policy. "I don't see here in this document anything that is based on financial need. If you're from a well-off family your opportunities and connections are likely better. For someone with fewer opportunities, this could be it. Financial need, not aid, should be a major deciding factor," Ngo said.

"One of the primary concerns of the award is how it fits into the student's educational and career trajectory. It's all merit-based; when the award was first established there was no mention of financial aid at all.

And either way, financial aid or not, the applicants need to explain why they need the money," Stark said in response to Ngo's concern.

After a close vote, Senate did not pass the amendment, meaning that the financial aid statement will remain in the document. However, the discussion has been tabled and will be continued at next week's meeting.

In other news:

• Senate unanimously approved a supplemental to allocate $300 to the Environmental Action Club for the "Reuse-a-ball" dance happening on April 2. People attending the dance are encouraged to wear only second hand clothing.

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