It’s been yet another long year for ASFA. The student organization has faced problem after problem over the years; in fact many students have had time to graduate and these issues have still not been resolved. ASFA is tearing apart at the seams, and is filled with distrust, tension and anger from both its own council and executive team, as well as from students who watch their money flow into an organization that can’t seem to get its act together.
ASFA needs a change, plain and simple. The priority for ASFA should be to become functional again, whatever it takes. Students deserve better than the mess caused by countless people over the years—regardless of their intention—and without a major change, that will never happen.
It’s true that these changes are going to be difficult. ASFA’s new structure would mean orientation events won’t be organized by a central organization. But this is far from the end: it’s up to ASFA’s member associations to step up to the plate, either as a group or for individual programs. MAs can choose to unite and keep Launch Week alive. If it’s in their interest, they can even choose to hold their own orientation events for their students. For some MAs, holding an orientation event that appeals to their student base is a more attractive option than using funds for one big event. The amount of work, finances, and planning needed to host these big orientation events won’t change, just who takes the lead on them. Besides, most fun activities happen at the MA level anyway, such as JSSA trivia nights, or a PSSA 5 à 7. And those MAs can choose to recreate these big events if they want.
The restructuring plan up for vote isn’t perfect—even ASFA’s lawyers thought it could use another work-over before it was proposed, and it’s not going to fix everything, but voting “no” is taking a step backwards.
ASFA needs to change. We can’t allow the association that pays $16,000 for Laci Green to hold a talk at Concordia to continue on business as usual according to an access to information request filed by The Concordian. To put that amount into perspective take another ATI request which revealed the some $1,700 offered to Peter Mansbridge to come talk at Concordia, which was eventually donated back to the university by Mansbridge. We can’t allow an organization with a toxic culture in which a student can be targeted for their race or gender to go on business as usual. We can’t allow an organization whose own president, Jenna Cocullo, can say “we don’t have a clear idea of where ASFA’s finances are” to continue on business as usual.
Even if the first step is far from perfect, this seems to be a genuine attempt to fix the institutional issues this organization has faced. If this referendum doesn’t pass now, when will change occur? The “no” camp says the plan needs more work, but when the new council takes on their roles in September, the risk of ASFA falling back into its old habits is too high. The astronomical turnover rate could lead to a new council who is unable to take on this heavy burden and send ASFA careening further into the abyss. For ASFA’s sake, vote ‘Yes,’ and be prepared for a bumpy road ahead.
The Concordian would like to note that Co-arts editor Lydia Anderson disagrees with this editorial. Regardless of your stance remember to vote for the referendum March 16 to 18.