The how-to of approving an applicant Registered Student Organization
May 16, 2019
“Young Americans for Freedrom (YAF) meeting the requirements to become an RSO does not mean that Senate has to approve them,” Associate Justice Rob Zintl wrote in his dissenting opinion in YAF’s appeal of the Student Senate registered student organization (RSO) vote. “If it was just about checking off boxes on a list, what would be the point of the vote?”
This was in response to the requirements for RSO approval which was summarized by Bridget Colbert, interim general counsel for Santa Clara, in a presentation to Associated Student Government (ASG) during their weekly meeting on March 7. Colbert informed senators that if an RSO meets the minimum requirement, they had to be certified and granted RSO status.
Colbert’s explanation followed ASG’s approval of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) as an RSO. After ASG’s approval, many groups within the Multicultural Center and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), tried to have Senate’s decision overturned.
Valerie Rutenburg is a first-year and SSI president. After meeting with leaders of SJP, Rutenburg was informed by Tedd Vanadilok, director of the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) and Vice Provost for Student Life Jeanne Rosenberger that SJP did not have ground to remove SSI as an RSO.
On May 9, the ASG Student Court found in favor, 4-1, of YAF’s appeal of the Student Senate decision denying them RSO status. Prior to this, during the Week FourASG Senate meeting, YAF did not receive a super majority of the votes to gain RSO status. However, this appeal means that YAF will be given a clean slate and allowed to reapply for RSO status and present their case in front of the student Senate again.
Throughout the discussion concerning YAF’s RSO status, senators cited multiple reasons for voting against YAF becoming an RSO. The two main reasons discussed were difficulty in sustaining membership over time given the overlap of potential members with Turning Point USA (TPUSA) and being a duplication of TPUSA.
Eduardo Ruano, a junior and senator-atlarge for diversity and inclusion, voted against granting YAF RSO status. His reasons for voting against YAF included his belief that the club would become inactive over time.
“I voted no because of my personal thought of this club possibly becoming inactive in the short term,” Ruano said. “We have seen another RSO, TPUSA, with a similar political ideology become the face of the Conservative community here at Santa Clara University, and other similar clubs, such as Young Americans for Liberty, might lose some popularity over time.”
However, demonstrating that an RSO can be sustainable over time has not been a core requirement for RSO status according to senate chair, Alex Perlman.
Perlman describes the core requirements for a RSO as not having a significant overlap in purpose with a currently existing RSO, a minimum of 15 students interested and compliance with all school policies and local, state and federal laws.
These requirements are also the one’s used by the Center for Student Involvement (CSI), who are the first to review RSO applications.
Following CSI approval, members of the potential new RSO then present in front of the student senate during a weekly meeting. The senators will then vote to approve or deny them RSO status.
According to Perlman, student senators also vote on RSOs as they are more likely to have a better understanding of the various RSOs on campus and how the student body might react, despite considering the same requirements.
“Senators, as outlined by our founding bylaws, have an obligation to vote based on their constituency,” Perlman said. “For example, a Senator at Large for LGBTQ+ inclusion has an obligation to vote based on what their groups of students want or would be best for them. If that constituency has a concern about a new RSO then that Senator is obligated to address those concerns.”
If the student court had upheld Senate’s decision, YAF would have had the option to then appeal to Rosenberger who acts as a final check if students fail to uphold the relevant rules and laws.
Rosenberger made the decision to grant RSO status to TPUSA two years ago, after they were denied by the student senate and the student court.
In a previous version of this article, Rory Pannkuk was misquoted. When stating that he voted no, he was referencing the club Pokemon Go, not Turning Point USA
Contact Emma Pollans at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.